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This Week in Anime

For the week of: 4.13.06

You know who I love? That guy at every intersection who's cranking that "Push for Walk Signal ->" button like there's no fricking tomorrow. There's one at every interstion, it seems, and hitting that thing once simply will not do. These guys are convinced that the button must be broken, so they'll stand cranking it endlessly, as if, yeah, they'll fool the stoplight into thinking there are a ton of people that need to cross the street. Yeah, nice work, jackass. News: that doesn't work. The way those things are set up is that pressing the button doesn't do anything more than a car pulling up to the intersection does. A city planner once told me that those things are mainly just there to placate pedestrians; they don't really do much, if anything. Some aren't even hooked up to anything. I love watching people slam that thing repeatedly and get no result, yet their vigor isn't diminished in the least, like they're being chased by assassins, yet want to cross the street legally. This column is dedicated to you, obsessive pedestrians.

Anyway, Tim's in jail. Here I am writing the anime column.

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Disgaea Anime - Biased Preview Toronto College Kids Get Their Anime On Online Rental Joint Rolls End Credits
Heath Writes About Shinkai Collection to Avoid News

Disgaea Anime - Biased Preview

Japanese TV is now showing the long-awaited Disgaea: The Anime (official site linked here). From the looks of things, it appears to be an alternate telling of the original PS2 game's story, by taking the same set-up, but showing notable differences right away. The overall structure of the plot seems to remain intact, but the show is only one episode in, so any change in direction could still happen, for all the viewers know.

The series maintains the same wacky type of humor players experienced within the tactical RPG that started this whole craze. Plenty of funny faces, unexpected outrage, and situational humor have shown themselves already in the first episode.

While a foreknowledge of the game is definitely not required to enjoy the anime, those who have played it will have a somewhat enhanced experience, as the characters are of course their old, lovable selves; Larharl is still as egocentric as ever, Flonne is still delightfully naive and trying to teach the underworld about love, and Etna's still got all the style in the world. There's also about a five-minute running joke/conversation about boobs, and the thing about this sentence is, I couldn't find anywhere else to weave that into the preview; it had to go somewhere, nonetheless.

So far, this anime is a winner. It'd be nice to see it translated and released proper-style in America. Expect a full review at the series' end.

Toronto College Kids Get Their Anime On

York University in Toronto, Canada will play host to the International Conference on Asian Comics, Animation, and Gaming (ICACAG) on May 18-19, 2006. According to the conference's official site, "The purpose of the conference is to promote scholarship and intellectual engagement between academics and cultural production professionals on the conference themes and topics from various backgrounds." Read more at the link.

Online Rental Joint Rolls End Credits

Anime Forest recently sent out an email to users of its online rental service, announcing its impending closure. It read:

"Thank you for your interest in AnimeForest.com. We regret to inform you that AnimeForest.com have ceased all per-rental DVD rental operations as of April 7, 2006 and that all subscription DVD rental operations will stop as of April 30, 2006.

"AnimeForest.com was started in July of 2003 to fill the niche of making Anime available to all fans nation-wide, and was the first Online DVD Rental service dedicated solely to Anime. The staff at AnimeForest.com (all Anime fans) have enjoyed serving the Anime community and wish to thank everyone for supporting us these past 3 years."

Giving props, I read this over at AnimeNewsNetwork.com, which apparently got its tip from a cool cat named David Honda.

Heath Writes About Shinkai Collection to Avoid News

So the decision for me to write this column was made in a bit of haste, and quite frankly, I don't feel like hunting down any more news right now. Therefore, here comes an evaluation of a two-DVD set that you may have seen at your local anime shop: The Shinkai Collection.

The package contains two movies (okay, well, one full length and one half-hour short film) made under the direction of Makoto Shinkai. The first, and for some reason most popular, is Voices of a Distant Star. This 30-minute feature tells the story of two young lovebirds torn apart by circumstance. With alien forces poised to attack Earth, Mikako must go help the effort to fight them off, while her boyfriend Noboru doesn't quite make the cut. It tells a sad, sad story from there on out, all the while delivering good music and great direction. Read the full review of this short film by itself here.

The Place Promised in Our Early Days, is the real highlight of this collection. The size of Shinkai's staff has increased since the days he had to put together Voice of a Distant Star so ghetto-like, the way he did. This benefits viewers greatly, as Place Promised turned out visually stunning. Beyond that, however, is a truly great story told by Shinkai's signature style of direction. Everything the staff did in this movie was done well. Know why by reading the full review.

Now then, we come to the issue of these things being bundled together. Sold separately at the normal price for an anime movie (about $30), The Place Promised in Our Early Days would be worth it, no question. But Voices of a Distant Star, on its own, tends to go for the same price, and that's just wrong. It's an enjoyable piece of work, but not worth that price. Enter the Shinkai Collection. For suggested retail price of $40, the pack offers both films, in their own separate DVD cases as if they were purchased separately, and includes some special exterior packaging to let people know "hey...I bought the collection." $40 is decent if that's how you roll, but dude, this is 2006. I highly recommend looking around online for a deal on this, particularly eBay, which can easily save you at least $12 if not more, or DeepDiscoutnDVD.com, which currently has it for $24. Just make sure if using eBay that you look at the seller's feedback first, duh. In short, the Shinkai Collection is a winner.

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Now I can say "wrote an anime column" on my resume. Hopefully whoever it is that gets it doesn't ask me for a link....

-Heath Hindman is pretty funktastic.

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