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Casper on DVD
By BRIAN THOMAS
May 28, 2007
© Sony Pictures Classics
If you want to see the Naruto movie, you’ve got to be in Canada and you’ve only got one day. Naruto: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow will be playing at 33 Cineplex theaters across Canada on June 23. Viz Media is releasing the film as an experiment whereby theaters can have special screenings of anime features for one day. The original plan was to release the film in theaters in the USA as well, but apparently that fell through.
It’s an interesting idea and I hope it works out. Some of the smarter multiplexes are reserving one of their many screens for foreign or arthouse type marginal films, and though the popularity of Japanese anime is still exploding in North America, it still fits in this marginal category, so getting it into theaters takes this kind of unusual distribution.
SPOTLIGHT OF THE WEEK
Receiving a more traditional theatrical release right now is – no, not another CGanime flick about animals, but a real cel-animated anime feature.
(O) PAPRIKA (Sony Pictures Classics) The latest mind-bender from director Satoshi Kon (Paranoia Agent) is about a machine that allows therapists to visit their patients’ minds – sorta like in The Cell. But it gets stolen, causing pandemonium. Very trippy stuff.
NEW DVD RELEASES
Here’s a rundown of the constant stream of anime comin’ at ya on DVD from around the world:
(O) THE BACKYARDIGANS: Movers & Shakers (Nickelodeon/Paramount) Nick originally titled this 4-episode disc after the first episode, “Movers of Arabia”, but someone must’ve thought pre-schoolers would find it too political. Includes music videos.
(O) BEST OF CASPER THE FRIENDLY GHOST Volume 1 (Classic Media)
(O) BEST OF CASPER THE FRIENDLY GHOST Volume 2 (Classic Media) Casper is the ghost of a young boy who doesn’t enjoy the spiritual pursuits of scaring the living. In a series of formulaic cartoon shorts starting with 1945’s “The Friendly Ghost”, Casper finds himself shunned by both the living and the dead until an act of heroism gains him a bit of friendship. These collections each contain a dozen or so shorts.
(O) BLEACH Volume 4: The Substitute (Viz) With hordes of soul-eating Hollows descending on the human world, Soul Reaper Ichigo and his rival Uryu have their hands more than full! A Hollow that can turn humans into zombies attacks the school, and in the struggle to save her friends, Ichigo's classmate Orihime discovers her own unique spirtual powers.
(O) CASE CLOSED Season 3 Volume 2: Death Wears A Blindfold (Funimation) Conan Edogawa tries a number of relaxing diversions, but finds that murder and mystery follow him.
(O) CHARLIE & LOLA Volume 4: It Is Absolutely Completely Not Messy (BBC) Seven stories with the cartoon kids, plus outtakes.
(O) EL-HAZARD OVA Volume 1: The Magnificent World (Geneon) The discovery of extraordinary ruins beneath the high school becomes the adventure of a lifetime when several students and their teacher are transported to the magical world of El-Hazard! There, each learns to cope with strange new powers and even stranger surroundings. First four episodes plus hidden surprises.
(O) ERGO PROXY Volume 4: Wrong Way Home (Geneon) Pino enters a cave and discovers a mysterious giant, Re-l is taken over by a not so pleasant doppelganger, and Vincent is forced to participate in a game show with deadly results for the loser.
(O) GAKUEN HEAVEN Volume 2: School of Love (Media Blasters) Based on the Japanese PC game. Keita is still struggling to find his place in Bell Liberty Academy. Each of the graceful young men in the school seems to be a genius at something, either studies or sports or music, but he feels decidedly average. The keys are the fragments of memories that torture him, memories of a boy he met when he was younger, and a tragic separation. Perhaps he can find solace in the arms of the school chairman, Endo Kazuki.
(O) HIKARU NO GO Volume 8: The Awful Opponent (Viz) Hikaru is ready to qualify for the Pro Exam and take the next step to becoming a Go master. But can he handle the pressure of top competition and overcome his own inexperience?
(O) KARIN Volume 1: Infusion (Geneon) Karin Maaka leads an ordinary life in spite of the fact that she is from a family of vampires. Unlike the rest of her family, she has no problem with bright lights, sleeps in a bed instead of a coffin, loves to eat garlic, and even makes her own blood. Everything begins to unravel when she gets uncontrollable urges every time she gets near her classmate, Kenta Usui. Also available in a limited edition box.
(O) THE LITTLE CARS 2: RODOPOLIS ADVENTURES (Inspired) Vroom! Errrr!
(O) THE MAGIC VOYAGE (Hannover House) Christopher Columbus sets out on a voyage of exploration with his pet worm in this 1992 German feature.
(O) THE MELANCHOLY OF HARUHI SUZUMIYA Volume 1 (Bandai) A schoolgirl falls in with a club of weirdos in this hit series. Include four songs. Also available in a special edition box with pencil board, CD, iron-on, cosplay ribbon and more.
(O) MISAKI CHRONICLES Complete Colletion (ADV) Hot chicks battling evil in mecha-armor.
MOEYO KEN TV Volume 3: Love is a Many Splintered Thing (ADV) Join Yuuko Kondou, Toshie Hijikata, and Kaoru Okita for the pulse pounding finale as the Mobile Shinsengumi risk everything in cataclysmic combat for the heart and soul of team member Ryuunosuke!
(O) NARUTO Uncut Box Set Volume 3 (Viz) Deep in the Forest of Death, Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura must battle their rival Genin to collect the scrolls of Heaven and Earth.
(O) NARUTO Volume 12: Byakugan Battle (Viz) Episodes 45-48. With Naruto watching, Hinata is not about to step down, even when she must go up against her cousin Neji, who bears a deep resentment against her branch of the Hyuga clan.
(O) OZIE BOO! Volume 3: Learn To Live Together (Allumination) Penguin kids.
(O) PEACH GIRL Volume 2 (Funimation) When it looks like Sae might finally get what’s coming to her, a chance romance with a teen-idol sends the scheming schoolgirl back to the top of the food chain.
(O) ROZEN MAIDEN Volume 1 (Geneon) This is the story of one young boy and an exquisite doll and their adventures as they strive to help each other in overcoming their fears and the very real dangers of the Alice Game. Limited edition includes collector box.
(O) SOLTY REI Volume 4 (Funimation) The dead are in charge. Includes auditions.
(O) TO HEART Volume 2: Finding Courage (Right Stuf) Episodes 5-7. Based on one of Japan’s most popular games, the series follows childhood friends Akari and Hiroyuki, and their classmates, as they deal with life’s everyday – and not-so-everyday – dramas.
(O) YU YU HAKUSHO: Five Standing (Funimation) 14 episodes on two discs. A grudge match simmers between the younger Toguro and Yusuke. Yusuke reveals to Toguro that he has not been fighting at full force and removes the Spirit Cuffs that bind his power...but now Toguro has powered up to his top level and stares down Yusuke's most powerful Spirit Blast.
(O) YU-GI-OH! Season 5 Part 1: Dawn of the Duel (Funimation) 13 episodes on two discs. The Pharaoh and Yugi revisit the history museum to attempt once again to unlock the secrets of the Pharaoh’s ancient past.
NOT ON DVD CORNER
We welcome the input of Maniacs who want to share input on this section, where we highlight a different genre feature that has yet to come to digital disc format – just send your suggestions to Anime Avalanche in an email identified with “NOT ON DVD” in the subject line.
(O) NEXUS (Lionsgate? Sony? Paramount?) Master comic-book artist Steve Rude has been struggling for nearly 20years to get the terrific First Comics series he created with writer Mike Baron into animated form. With after hours help from folks at big name studios, Rude put together a promo reel a few years ago in the hope that a TV network would snap it up for a series, but nothing happened. You would think that with the wide variety of anime being produced these days that someone would rescue this wonderful idea, but so far Nexus is not on TV, in movies and definitely NOT ON DVD.
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!