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industry affairs

Deep Silver x Atlus photo
Deep Silver x Atlus

Deep Silver to publish Atlus and Sega games (and Persona 5) in Europe

Took 'em long enough
Jul 06
// Josh Tolentino
Time for some relief, European otaku: You'll get Persona 5 - and more - in your neck of the woods. Atlus and Sega have found a new partner for European publishing. The agreement comes in the wake of NIS America cutting i...
Lynn  photo

Yikes: Lynn and the Spirits of Inao gets canceled in the midst of payment-related allegations

Justice has been served?
May 20
// Salvador G Rodiles
It felt like it was only yesterday that I was looking forward to the 2D platformer game known as Lynn and the Spirits of Inao. As of now, my hopes for seeing this game get made are shattered as the title's Kickstarter campaig...
Yuko Mizutani photo
Yuko Mizutani

Veteran voice actress Yuko Mizutani passes away

Gone too soon
May 20
// Josh Tolentino
Deaths may be a fact of life, but it's always sad when someone is taken too soon. That's the case for Japanese voice actress Yuko Mizutani, a veteran of Japan's voice acting scene who was best known for playing Sakiko Sakura,...
Anime Expo photo
Anime Expo

Uh-oh: Anime Expo could be harmed by sudden regulations

Why now?
May 16
// Josh Tolentino
I think we can all agree that youths need protection from creeps and other predators, but what's happening at this year's Anime Expo in the name of protecting the children seems to be a bit...undesirable. Last week, the ...

Anime Industry :( photo
Anime Industry :(

Want to make anime in Japan? Don't expect to get rich doing it

Not unless you're a celebrity, at least
May 12
// Josh Tolentino
One of the more common pieces of fan mail we get comes in the form of inquiries from fans looking to break into anime creation. It's not an uncommon impulse, to want to try your hand at making what you love to watch, but impu...

Uh-oh: NIS America cuts ties with Atlus in Europe, Oceania

Apr 26
// Josh Tolentino
It's been a long time since it has truly sucked to be a European gamer, but this latest development certainly qualifies, particularly for Europeans and residents of Australia and Oceania that are fans of Atlus' games. NIS Ame...
PlayStation 4 photo
PlayStation 4

Sony may sell an upgraded PlayStation 4 model codenamed 'NEO' soon

A half generation update?
Apr 19
// Josh Tolentino
It looks like it's almost officially A Thing now: After weeks of rumblings and rumors regarding its existence swirled, more concrete (though still unconfirmed) information has emerged around supposed plans by Sony to produce ...
RIP photo

Rest in Peace: Digimon Song Performer Kouji Wada passes away

A great singer has left our side
Apr 08
// Salvador G Rodiles
It's time for a moment of silence, as Kouji Wada, the guy who sang most of the themes from the Digimon franchise, has left our world on April 3 at the age of 42. The cause of his passing was due to cancer in his upper pharynx...
GDC 2016 photo
GDC 2016

GDC pays touching tribute to the late Satoru Iwata

Not a dry eye in the house
Mar 17
// Josh Tolentino
One of the sadder events in recent memory for gamers was the passing of former Nintendo President Satoru Iwata. Aged 55, he played a key role at Nintendo for many years, contributing to the development of games like Balloon ...

Reflecting on Women in Anime and Manga

Mar 15 // Yussif Osman
Like everywhere else in the world, pressures surrounding gender roles in Japan are great and these pressures are disproportionately great on women. Women in Japan are expected to stop working after they get married and are then expected to perform the typical duties of a wife and a mother. But like most places in the world, I argue it is getting better, at least in the way people see and treat one another, if not structurally. Hayao Miyazaki, who is notable for creating great, leading female characters, remarked facetiously that he has so many strong female animators, that he may need to make more films with male protagonists to encourage men. He's joking and life is still very difficult for women around the world, but in certain spheres we see strides being made, whether that's a female presidential candidate in the US or increasingly inspiring and strong female protagonists in anime and manga. With regards to Studio Ghibli, we can point to the powerful and driven San from Princess Mononoke or the resourceful and resilient Chihiro from Spirited Away, but I would like to in particular flag up the lesser known Only Yesterday which though released in Japan in 1991, would not be released in North America until over two decades later in 2016. This is a mature and therapeutic film which deals with memory and growing up from the perspective of the twenty-seven-year-old Taeko. The positive outcome of the film being released so late is that we millennials were able to see it as we become Taeko's age and wrestle with the same issues she does, like love, career and working out where we belong. Taeko recalls her childhood whilst seeking to escape her life in the city by doing seasonal work in the countryside. Taeko leads viewers in the same stage of life as her by example, encouraging us to reflect and discover what truly makes us happy as she decides to ultimate to stay in the countryside. Taeko might not be Hokage or a pirate captain, but she is still a leader, in a very meaningful and important sense. Another character who strikes me personally is Mari from Tokyo Magnitude 8. Mirai and Yuki are separated from their from their family when a devastating earthquake hits Tokyo and Mari, a complete stranger takes it upon herself to make sure they reach home. What strikes me here, in particular, is how their coming together was written. Often, something binds characters, meaning they have to come together, often by chance or fate, but this isn't the case here. Mari simply chooses to take responsibility for the children, it's a choice she freely makes to undertake this heavy mission and that says a great deal about her character. Through the course of the story, she becomes more than the typical older sister often found in older young women in anime. She is a protector and a guardian, a teacher, a guide and a parent. She helps them hope and in doing so becomes pivotal for their survival. Not just that, but through her they learn about each other and grow as brother and sister. Another reason this character is so compelling is that it's easy to present a heroine who is strong because she is just written as fighting strong enemies like Ryuko from Kill la Kill, instead, the enemy here is an earthquake and cannot simply be fought and must instead be navigated through, not with strength or attacks, but with character, with optimism and audacity, will and hope, human characteristics which inspire us and should. That said, I believe there are still 'fighting' female protagonists who bring a-lot to anime and manga, more so than their male counterparts. I would like to use the example of the two Nonos from Gunbuster and Diebuster. Both characters are dreamers who discover themselves in their dreams of becoming space pilots and grow as people. But even as shounen-like characters, their fights are spectacular and outshine the battles found in One Piece, Naruto and Dragonball Z. Why do I say this? Whereas in most shounen anime and manga, the protagonist fights by showing off attacks, skills or new techniques, with the Nonos instead what we get is a display of sheer willpower and fury. Where Naruto relied on ascending to his various fox and frog forms to fight progressively stronger foes and Goku has to go super saiyan, the Nonos had to learn, grow and display impossible willpower, resulting in an awesome displays of human perseverance. In short, it's awesome. There remain issues, it is assumed that shounen anime and manga in the mainstream require male protagonists, depriving young boys of strong female role models which I believe are necessary to foster a healthy and fair society. Instead, for most shounen anime and manga, the female characters either need protecting or are a love interest, feeding into existing stereotypes and perpetuating them. As I have described here, strides are being made, but there is still a long way to go. There's one series in particular that I would like to place emphasis on which turns this issue on its head. Revolutionary Girl Utena is about a young woman who seeks to become a prince; i.e. someone who is brave, proud and strong, rather than a princess. The result is a protagonist who plays much of the roles taken by male protagonists in shounen anime, including combat, but with a feminine perspective that brings something new to the table. Rather than simply defeating her foes, Utena empathises with them, understands where they're coming from and in doing so, brings the conflict to resolution, rather than simply beating them into submission. The result is far more compelling and interesting episodes than the average anime. The way the show explored gender and sexuality would also go on to inspire the American cartoon Steven Universe where female alien gems fight, protect and fall in love. Utena empathising with her enemies is akin to Allen Walker liberating the spirits of his akuma foes in D. Gray-man and this brings us to Katsura Hoshino. Hoshino has fought waves of illness and continued to bring D. Gray-man to the world, a story filled with mystery, stunning art and a complex, detailed world with even more complex characters. Hoshino brought us a world of very troubled and traumatised characters, who deal and work through their trauma throughout the story, creating vibrant journeys of self-discovery and startling revelations. D. Gray-man is one of the few shounen manga to have truly empathetic villains, who suffer and have complex lives behind their actions. This is in contrast to even Naruto, which though seeks to portray some of its villains such as Pain and Obito as having reasons for the terrible thing they've done, they're not 'alive' or 'real' in the same way that D. Gray-man villains are who are complicated in virtue of more than just motivations, but quirks and behaviour, personalities that are more than just bitter, rather they are filled with humour and bonds of their own. This may be a trait that female authors and creators bring to their work in a more effective way than their male counterparts, that their characters are simply more complex, multi-layered and interesting. The Millenium Earl and the Noah family are more than just evil, they are a family and genuinely likeable. Likewise, Hoshino's heroes are more than just good, they're odd and bizarre with a billion flaws and detailed likes and dislikes and personalities. Compare multiple Naruto side characters like Tenten or Shino who are given special abilities, but who are basically two dimensional, compared to a single D. Gray-man side character like Lavi, who has a complex personality and backstory of his own. Whereas Lavi is a reluctant Bookman, seeking to record the history of the world, we never learnt a thing about Tenten or Shino which could make us care more about them. I don't know, it might be unfair of me to say that female authors create more compelling characters and stories, but I know that these female authors most certainly did, and so did Hiromu Arakawa, who is responsible for arguably the perfect anime and manga in Full Metal Alchemist and Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Arakawa built an incredible world and went as far as to create a science from scratch for the sake of the story in the form of Armestrisian alchemy. The hero-villain axis is fluid as people's motivations bring them dynamically in and out of line with one another, Scar and Greed being primary examples. The story covers issues such as race relations and military occupation, family and international relations, the ethics of science, religion and humanism. The sheer originality of the series is amazing as entire ontologies, countries and philosophies flow into existence before our eyes. Not just that, but the series itself becomes incredibly complex with a range of characters doing multiple things across multiple locations, whilst events still coalesce and work together seamlessly regardless. The story is enjoyable, interesting and moving and I think I speak for all of us when I say I hope we all see more of Arakawa's original work in the future. Having lived and work in East Asia and in Japan in particular, I can say that gender is an issue that still has a long way to go. Stereotypes, societal pressures and expectations make life incredibly difficult for girls and women, but I believe that through the medium of storytelling, we have opportunities to make strides in gender equality and the perception of women. Japan is blessed with a massive storytelling industry in anime, manga, light novels and video games and so, I believe ample opportunity to make a difference.
International photo
Celebrating women characters and authors
This article comes a week late, but I think better late than never and better a little late than very late. I wanted to do something for International Women's day and thought why not reflect on a couple of female characters and creators who have made the world of anime and manga a better, more compelling place.

RIP photo

Rest in Peace: Creature Artist Yasushi Nirasawa passes away

An amazing monster designer has left us
Feb 05
// Salvador G Rodiles
Sad news, everyone; it turns out that the great creature illustrator Yasushi Nirasawa passed away at the age of 52 on Feb. 2. According to his Twitter page, his passing was caused by kidney failure. In case this is your first...
RIP photo

Rest in Peace: Masayuki Izumi passes away

A great antihero has left our world
Aug 04
// Salvador G Rodiles
Ladies and gentlemen; it pains me to tell you all that Masayuki Izumi passed away on July 28. Sadly, the guy left to the other side at 35, which was too soon for someone at that age. The cause of his death was an undisclosed ...

Studio Ghibli shutting down...sort of

Aug 03 // Josh Tolentino
Though this may come as a surprise to the average fan, especially considering Ghibli's latest film, When Marnie Was There is still in theaters in Japan, rumors that Ghibli was to close its doors have been moving through the channels among industry watchers. And even then, this isn't a death entire for the studio. According to Suzuki (and let's emphasize that none of this has actually happened yet), Ghibli will continue on, mainly to manage the studio's existing properties and trademarks. It'll also keep a small crew on hand to support founder Hayao Miyazaki's projects, as well as continue to support its "Momonoma" division. Momonoma is a special freelance group run by Yoshiyuki Momose to create music videos, commercials, and other small projects. What could be getting the axe is its Animation Production department, which is both the root of the problem and the core of Ghibli as it existed for many folks today. The issue is that without a big luminary like Hayao Miyazaki or Isao Takehata to keep big movie projects flowing - and unlike most animation studios, Ghibli's output is almost entirely exclusive to feature films - its staff of long-term employees is too expensive to just keep around doing nothing. As such, Ghibli would restructure, reverting to a more freelance-centric system, not unlike it did things prior to producing Porco Rosso. Thus it's best to think of the move as more of a reboot for the studio, as it opts to wait for new projects to come in rather than scramble for work just to keep the lights on. Perhaps it's best to think of the restructuring as a short break rather than a true closure. Suzuki himself said: "On what to do with Studio Ghibli's future, it is by no means impossible to keep producing [movies] forever. However, we will take a pause to consider where to go from here." In the meantime, the optimist could look forward to a possible new flood of talented animators and producers formerly exclusive to Ghibli entering the more traditional anime industry (despite its mainstream recognition, Ghibli was always the exception rather than the rule) and lending their own creativity to other studios.  At this point it's really wait-and-see, though there's no doubt that if or when these changes take place it'd be the end of an era...for this particular iteration of Studio Ghibli. [Via Catsuka, IGN, ANN and others]
RIP Studio Ghibli photo
More of a reboot, really
It looks like a number of rumors swirling around the internet have just been confirmed: The legendary production house Studio Ghibli - they of a large proportion of anime films worth watching - might shutting down. The announ...

Chroma Squad photo
Chroma Squad

Report: Power Rangers co. Saban sues indie Sentai game

Teens with too much attitude
Jul 19
// Josh Tolentino
I love the story of Chroma Squad, a little indie game from Brazilian outfit Behold Studios. They took something they loved - tokusatsu and Super Sentai - and made it into a unique game concept - putting players in the shoes o...
Sony haet Square photo
Sony haet Square

Signs of Doom! Sony sells off its Square Enix stock

Apr 16
// Josh Tolentino
Fanboys and girls rejoice, for the corporations you've pledged your loyalty to have given you some extra ammo to use in your eternal conflict. It seems consumer electronics giant and PlayStation maker Sony has decided to offl...
TokyoPop photo

TokyoPop founder Stu Levy does AMA on Reddit

Read about how a former industry titan toppled
Apr 05
// Brad Rice
Buried in the midst of Reddit's Ask Me Anything section, TokyoPop founder Stu Levy popped in for two hours to answer questions from fans about the company, the industry, and manga in general. One of the more interesting quest...

Square Enix and Yen Press announce worldwide digital partnership

Mar 24 // Brad Rice
NEW YORK, NY (March 24, 2014) – Yen Press, the graphic novel imprint of Hachette Book Group, and leading Japanese gaming and manga publisher Square Enix in conjunction with the Tuttle-Mori Agency announced today that their highly anticipated inter-corporate initiative for the global distribution of Square Enix's English language manga will commence on April 8th. By virtue of this groundbreaking agreement, fans of Square Enix’s manga in over 200 countries will have access to the authorized, English-language ebook editions of 175 titles through Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Google and Kobo with new volumes available concurrently with future print releases. Launching first with internationally best selling series like Atsushi Ohkubo’s Soul Eater, Yana Toboso's Black Butler, and Yoshiki Tonogai's Doubt, Yen Press will roll out additional series weekly throughout the month of April with a blockbuster assortment that includes Hiromu Arakawa's Fullmetal Alchemist, Jun Mochizuki's PandoraHearts, Ryukishi07's Higurashi WHEN THEY CRY, and Until Death Do Us Part by Hiroshi Takashige and DOUBLE-S. As an added bonus for fans, these ebook editions will include color pages not reproduced in the titles' print counterparts. In addition to this ambitious launch of their cooperative digital publishing endeavor, Yen Press and Square Enix have also unveiled a program for the digital English language serialization of new chapters of two ongoing series – Atsushi Ohkubo's riotous successor to Soul Eater, Soul Eater NOT!, and Yoshiki Tonogai's latest mind-bending mystery thriller, Secret. Chapters not already contained in the collected volumes of these series will be released as digital comics in advance of the latest chapters slated for publication April 14th. Kurt Hassler, VP and Publishing Director of Yen Press, said of the agreement, "In much the same way that video streaming technologies transformed the way fans consume anime, the digital availability of manga content stands to revolutionize readers’ access to the material they love. Particularly exciting to us is the opportunity Square Enix has provided international audiences to enjoy and support the latest installments of continuing series at the same time as Japanese fans. Manga has a truly global community of enthusiasts, and Yen Press could not be prouder to help connect these brilliant creators with the worldwide readership clamoring for their work." Katsuyoshi Matsuura, Division Executive of Publication Business Division and General Manager of Digital Publishing of Square Enix Co., Ltd., commented regarding the commencement of the service, "I am extremely pleased to know that our work will be available to manga fans to whom it was previously inaccessible. At the same time, I am very encouraged and excited to be able to implement this service in cooperation with Hachette Book Group and to work with them to address the ever expanding needs of enthusiasts while providing them with the most exciting experience possible." About the authors of the serialized chapter publications: Atsushi Ohkubo’s debut manga series, B.Ichi, originally appeared in Square Enix’s Monthly Shonen Gangan magazine. Upon completion of the work, his concept for Soul Eater began as a series of shorts appearing in the same magazine and later became the long-running work that has earned him international renown. The final chapter of Soul Eater recently ran in the September issue of Monthly Shonen Gangan. Ohkubo is still at work on his spin-off series, Soul Eater NOT!, the animation for which is slated to begin airing this spring. Yoshiki Tonogai leapt onto the manga scene as the artist on the Time Killing Arc of Ryukishi07's epic Higurashi WHEN THEY CRY. He then went on to create his first solo work, Doubt, which was serialized in Square Enix's Monthly Shonen Gangan, the success of which inspired its sequel, Judge. Tonogai's latest murder masterpiece, Secret, kicked off its serialization in Monthly Shonen Gangan in October 2013, and he has been a recurring presence on the New York Times manga bestseller list.
Yen Press photo
175 English-language titles to appear in over 200 countries
Yen Press and Square Enix just announced a partnership to put eBook versions of 175 manga titles online, giving the English-language versions of Square Enix's manga worldwide reach. Starting April 8, you'll be able to access ...

Gunpla photo

Gunpla Banzai: Barnes & Noble selling Gunpla kits

Build Fighters to follow?
Mar 15
// Josh Tolentino
It's actually funny: For as much access as North American anime fans have to Japan's pop culture output these days, there really are some things that are still difficult to find over there. For example, it's easy to get your ...
PS4 photo

Yay Consumer Electronics: PS4 sells 322,083 in Japan

A good start
Feb 26
// Josh Tolentino
In case you didn't know, the PS4 has just launched in Glorious Nippon, three months after its North American and European debuts, and the numbers are in for the new platform's first two days of Japanese sales: The console ha...
Doujinshi photo

The doujinshi fanzine industry is worth a lot of money

Fans arise!
Feb 04
// Josh Tolentino
I suppose it should go without saying for some more savvy otaku, but the fan-comic industry (aka doujinshi) is pretty big in Japan. That said, not everyone knows just how big it is. Until now. A representative from Comitia, a...
BitSummit photo

BitSummit's Japanese indie-fest returns!

In lovely Kyoto
Jan 15
// Josh Tolentino
I'd hardly be the first guy to say that Japan's gaming industry isn't having the best time right now. In fact, the gaming industry in general is suffering creatively. But whereas western gamers have been increasingly looking...
Cool Japan photo
Cool Japan

Cooler Japan: Japanese gov't opening new anime channel

Coming to an Asia near you
Jan 04
// Josh Tolentino
I'm hardly in a position to say whether Japan's culture export-focused "soft power" initiative, dubbed "Cool Japan" is successful, but whatever you think of it, it's good news to see that they're still rolling along with it. ...
Crunchyroll photo

Crunchyroll issues statement on Chernin investment

Everything's going to stay the same, business as usual
Dec 10
// Brad Rice
Back at the end of October, we heard that The Chernin Group bought a stake in Crunchyroll, boosting its valuation somewhere short of $100 million. Crunchyroll finally came out with a statement to assuage fans' concerns, and i...
Puzzle & Dragons photo
Puzzle & Dragons

Puzzle & Dragons is now crazy popular in the West

They did the monster...match-three
Nov 10
// Josh Tolentino
Whenever folks talk about the supposed decline of the Japanese game industry, there's always one bright light shining in the gloom and doom. Strangely enough, it's not Monster Hunter, but rather Puzzle & Dragons, the mons...
RIP photo

Rest in peace: Tomoyuki Dan passes away

The man behind the Weather Dopant is now gone
Oct 12
// Salvador G Rodiles
Another great person departs from the world of the living, and it happens to be someone from Kamen Rider W. Unfortunately, it was too soon for him to leave our side. On October 10th at 11:49 pm, Tomoyuki Dan passed away at th...
Gaming photo

Will gamers decide the fate of the Neo Geo X?

"To be or not to be, that is the question."
Oct 08
// Tim Sheehy
For those of you who haven't kept up with the drama, there's been an on-going dispute between SNK Playmore USA, and publisher Tommo Inc., who manufacture the Neo Geo X Gold portable gaming device. Earlier this month, SNK Play...
Crunchyroll photo

Crunchyroll bringing simulcasts to France

Expands service to include French language support
Oct 03
// Tim Sheehy
Crunchyroll has announced today that they'll be expanding their Simulcast service to France, complete with subtitled French language support. The service will only be launching with a select number of series to start, which i...
RIP Hiroshi Yamauchi photo
RIP Hiroshi Yamauchi

RIP, Hiroshi Yamauchi: Nintendo ex-prez passes at 85

A pioneer of the gaming industry
Sep 19
// Josh Tolentino
When you think of Nintendo, chances are you'll think of a name like Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of Mario and all that good stuff the Big N is known for. But there's another name you should know, one without whom good ol' S...

And the new owner of Atlus is...

Sep 17 // Salvador G Rodiles
Atlus photo
Let's pray that Atlus' great localization streak remains unaffected.
[Update #2: Sega Sammy have confirmed their acquisition of Atlus. Sega Dreams, a new division formed by Sega, will be the ones to handle Index Holdings.] [Update #1: Sega Sammy have initially denied report...

Hayao Mizayaki retires photo
Hayao Mizayaki retires

Watch Hayao Miyazaki on the internet!

The legend says goodbye
Sep 05
// Josh Tolentino
In case you hadn't heard, legendary animator and all-time anime great Hayao Miyazaki is retiring. Best shed a tear, and perhaps consider opening your wallet to pick up any of his films you haven't seen yet. "But wait!" you sa...

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