Now both animation innovators Joseph Barbera and his partner William Hanna are dead, and last week a key creative force in their studio followed them into the Great Beyond. January 15 marked the passing of Iwao Takamoto, a character designer responsible for the look of the whole Mystery Inc. gang, as well as Scooby-Doo’s canine comrades Muttley and Astro, the alien Gazoo, and lots more characters that defined the influential Hanna-Barbera style. Takamoto picked up illustration skills in an internment camp during World War II, and after the war was hired by Disney to work on their features. In 1961 he moved on to H-B and eventually became a vice president at Warner Bros. Animation, but kept on storyboarding and designing characters to the end.
In last week’s column, we opened our Prize Closet for an early giveaway of two copies of Avatar the Last Airbender Book 2 Volume 1. Since it was actually released this week, and I haven’t sent out the prizes yet, I decided to repeat the contest again this week so more of you have a chance to enter. To enter, just send an email to which includes your name and address DVD Shopping List, and in the subject line put the word “AANG”.
SPOTLIGHT OF THE WEEK
This looks like another promising new series from Funimation:
(O) SOLTY REI Volume 1 (Funimation) Amidst the brutal, damaged outskirsts of Dome Shell City, there's only one rule: every man for himself! In this future dystopia, humanity has seriously lost its way. Even worse, a freak atmospheric phenomenon called the Electrotsumi hs killed an maimed more than 100,000 people. Roy Levant, a tormented ex-cop turned bounty hunter, unwillingly becomes entangled with Solty, a mysterious android. The two are hurled into a web of violence and intrigue. Also available in a Starter Set collector box.
NEW DVD RELEASES
Here’s a rundown of the constant stream of anime comin’ at ya on DVD from around the world:
(O) ALI BABA & THE FORTY THIEVES: The Lost Scimitar of Arabia (Genius) Continuation of the adventures of the famous thief.
(O) ALVIN & THE CHIPMUNKS: A Chipmunk Valentine (Paramount) Four Valentine themed episodes. Hey, if someone gives you helium balloons instead of flowers, you can use them to sing along.
(O) BAKI THE GRAPPLER Box Set 1-6 (Funimation)
(O) COMIC PARTY REVOLUTION TV Volume 3: The Party’s Over (ADV)
(O) ERGO PROXY Volume 2 (Geneon) Re-l leaves the safety of Romdo in order to bring Vincent back and clear his name. Leaving the shelter of the city is a test of courage, but dealing with the realities of life outside the dome is a test of conviction. The idyllic illusion of life within Romdo begins to crumble for Re-l and Vincent as they forge into the darkness that surrounds them and travel away from the light.
(O) HOPELESS PICTURES Season 1 (Genius) As seen on IFC. Mel Wax (voiced by Michael McKean) is the head of a dysfunctional Hollywood indie movie studio, Hopeless Pictures, who struggles to reign in out-of-control, pill-popping Swedish directors and egomaniacal stars, while coping with a vengeful soon-to-be ex-wife (Lisa Kudrow), assorted affairs, his idiot nephew/head of production (Bob Balaban), a hostile takeover and an inept psychiatrist, Dr. Stein (Jonathan Katz).
(O) THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN (Lionsgate) A billionaire industrialist and engineering genius creates a powerful suit of hi-tech armor to use against an ancient Asian evil he resurrects. The latest direct-to-DVD Marvel Comics adaptation, plus featurettes and more.
(O) KYO KARA MAOH!: GOD(?) SAVE OUR KING Season 2 Part 2 (Geneon) In order to separate Yuri from Wolfram, Stoffel introduces an eligible girl for Yuri to marry! But the bride-to-be shocked everyone by she is really Wolfram's fiance' and she challenges Yuri to a duel. Then, Dunheely Weller's past is revealed. His stepson, Gwendal, hates him, and long ago, a trip to a remote ghost town provided Gwendal with the truth that would change his future. After a quiet interval, the nation of Big Cimaron begins moving again and requests an "exchange program" with other contries - but it may be a ruse to take hostages! Yuri and Adalbert join forces to escape the Big Cimaron army together.
(O) RANMA ½ TV Season One Digital Dojo Box (Viz) Boy gets wet. Boy becomes girl! One of the top anime TV series finally gets seasoned. 18 episodes on 4 discs.
(O) THOMAS & FRIENDS: A Big Day for Thomas (Anchor Bay) Also available with toy train.
(O) THOMAS & FRIENDS: Trust Thomas & Other Stories (Anchor Bay) Also available with toy train.
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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