The first annual American Anime Awards gala will be hosted in New York City on February 24th by New York Comic Con. Something like a cross between the Golden Globes and the All Star Game, the winners will be chosen by the fans, voting online for the best in anime imported from Japan in several categories. To be specific, these awards are for the production teams that bring you the US versions of the Japanese movies and TV shows, so when voting you should keep in mind how well the program is being presented, not necessarily how much you enjoy the show itself. But in addition, there are ballots for picking the best shows in separate categories, and there doesn’t seem to be any time frame for qualification.and no distinction is made between features, OVA and TV series (voice actors from Akira can compete with those from Desert Punk). Voting ends January 31, then the top five in each category will be announced on February 5, and the winners announced on February 24 at the gala in a ceremony hosted by pretty voice actresses (billed as “Anime Babes” to give the proceedings some class) and you can watch it over the Anime Network (if you get it via your cable outlet – some areas only carry Video On Demand).
Confused? Me, too. But since this is the first time they’ve tried something like this, I don’t want to rag on them, and the intention – to honor the folks that work hard to bring us the anime in English – is noble. I’d list the nominees here, but instead of narrowing it down to just a few, they’re using a catch-all approach that makes the list too long to reprint. You can go here to vote.
SPOTLIGHT OF THE WEEK
You know I loves me some anime, but what I like even better than getting a series in chunks (or “volumes”, as the labels call them) of four or five episodes is to get ALL the episodes of a series I already know I like in one box. It takes that bad taste out of your brain that gets in there when you are missing volumes 4 and 8 of a twelve volume series because you somehow fell behind in your shopping or “thought you already bought that one”. Here’s this week’s best slab of series:
(O) HEAT GUY J Complete Volumes 1-7 (Geneon) Android J was secretly built by the government as a special agent to combat crime in the oceanic city-nation of Judoh. While J initially appears to be human, the illusion quickly disappears in clouds of scorching steam when he fights. Together with his partner, Daisuke Aurora, the steaming hero fights crime in all its strange forms. Excellent sci-fi action from the creators of the Escaflowne movie.
NEW DVD RELEASES
Here’s a rundown of the constant stream of anime comin’ at ya on DVD from around the world:
(O) BEET THE VANDEL BUSTER: THE SACRIFICE (Westlake) Tongue-twister title of the week. Darkness and despair have overtaken the Earth as a demon race known as Vandels roam freely and terrorize mankind. The Zenon Warriors, Earth's greatest Vandel Busters, struggle against the tyranny of the Vandels, along with Zenon's determined younger brother, Beet. In a dramatic showdown, the Dark Overlord of the Vandels, Beltorze, faces off against the Zenon Warriors in an epic battle to save Beet s home village. But when Beet's actions compromise the team, Zenon is forced to make a decision that will affect Beet and the Zenon Warriors forever! Meanwhile, Beet's childhood friend Poala braves the Bog of the Dead and gets the attention of a new Vandel, Mugine, who initiates a vile plot to destroy her!
(O) BLACK CAT Volume 2: The Catastrophe (Funimation) Creed tries to force Train to come back to the assassination game.
(O) BLEACH Volume 2: The Substitute (Viz) As seen on Adult Swim. With her Soul Reaper powers transferred to Ichigo, Rukia Kuchiki, disguised as a transfer student, must assist Ichigo in learning to use his newly acquired powers to destroy soul-devouring Hollows. But more trouble arrives in the form of a modified soul who takes over Ichigo's body and starts running amok all over town, literally! Jump on quick to get in at the start of this long running hit series.
(O) DIARY OF A WORM… AND MORE GREAT ANIMAL TALES (Scholastic) Oprah throws a tantrum when the diary turns out to be fiction.
(O) GAOGAIGAR King of the Braves Volume 3: Ninja Robots (Media Blasters) Professor Shishio and the GGG team are working around the clock to discover the secrets behind the Zonder Metal. This strange substance is turning the people of earth into bio-mechanical monsters. As the enemy steps up, GAOGAIGAR receives backup in the form of Volfogg, the resourceful ninja AI Robot developed by GGG's on computer genius, Entoji. But then Entoji's old rival, Inubouzaki, infiltrates HQ as a Zonder virus. Mamoru and Volfogg are sent on a desperate race against HQ's own self-destruct! When the Zonder Robo attacks, the Gao Machines can't boot. Gai leads the GGG team on the first ever manual docking to finally form GAOGAIGAR.
(O) LEGEND OF THE DRAGON Volume 2 (Genius) Ang understands that as Golden Dragon, he must stop the Zodiac Master and Ling, the Shadow Dragon, to protect the universal balance at all costs.
(O) LEGEND OF THE DRAGON Volume 3 (Genius) The challenge is to find the right combination to defeat the Golden Dragon.
(O) OPEN SEASON (Sony) A domesticated grizzly bear (misvoiced by Martin Lawrence) gets lost in the woods 3 days before hunting season starts and is forced to rely on a nutty mule deer (misvoiced by Ashton Kutcher) to survive. CGanime feature also includes the voice talents of Gary Sinise, Debra Messing, Billy Connolly, Jon Favreau, Patrick Warburton, Jane Krakowski and Georgia Engel. With commentraks by the filmmakers and the characters, bonus short, games, featurettes, music video and more.
(O) TRINITY BLOOD Chapter 4 (Funimation) As seen on Adult Swim. As the Order of Rosencreuz up the stakes, cooperation and goodwill between the Vatican and the Empire grow imperative. Adept at intrigue and manipulation, insinuated deeply within both sides of the struggle, this new order leads all in a deadly dance.
BLU-RAY DISC CORNER
(O) OPEN SEASON (Sony) With commentraks by the filmmakers and the characters, bonus short, games, featurettes, music video and more.
(O) OPEN SEASON (Sony)
And be sure to check back next week—and every week—for Mania’s Anime Avalanche! And check in every Tuesday for the latest DVD Shopping List!
Anime Avalanche (© 2007 Brian Thomas) is our weekly anime column. Brian Thomas is the author of the massive book VideoHound’s DRAGON: ASIAN ACTION & CULT FLICKS, available now!
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