This is some pretty significant news if you're a fan of Studio Ghibli films. It was announced just today at Italy's Venice Film Festival by Studio Ghibli president Koji Hoshino that acclaimed Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki will be retiring at age 72 from future production of Ghibli films. This is off the heels of the studio's release of Miyazaki's latest work, The Wind Rises, which has been playing in Japanese theaters since July 20.
Many anime fans are likely familiar with the work of Hayao Miyazaki. He has been involved in animation direction since the 1970s, directing a number of TV anime titles during the period like episodes of the first Lupin III TV anime and Future Boy Conan. His directorial film debut, The Castle of Cagliostro, is still recognized as one of the best films in the Lupin III franchise among fans of the popular Monkey Punch thief character.
Miyazaki was one of the original founders of Studio Ghibli in 1984, having directed a number of films for the studio like Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Kiki's Delivery Service and Princess Mononoke. His 2001 film, Spirited Away, is still the highest grossing film of all-time in Japanese theaters and the only Japanese animated film to receive an American Academy Award for Best Animated Film in 2003.
The man will definitely be missed by me in the world of anime as I've been a fan of many of his films for years with Kiki's Delivery Service being one of the very first anime titles I seen in the late-1990s, just as Walt Disney Home Entertainment started up their deal with Ghibli to release many of their films internationally to home video and theaters. How do you guys feel about Miyazaki's retirement from film direction?
Rurouni Kenshin: New Kyoto Arc was a two-episode OVA series animated by Studio Deen that was released in Japan on March 21 and August 22 of 2012. The series adapts the Kyoto arc of Nobuhiro Watsuki's famous 1990s shonen manga title, Rurouni Kenshin. The OVA series was released to DVD and Blu-Ray video formats earlier this year by Sentai Filmworks.
In Meiji era Japan, former government hitokiri Makoto Shishio is out to wage war against the new government, leading a group of swordsmen called the Juppongatana to overthrow the government and institute his own rule of survival of the fittest. Hearing of this threat, Kenshin Himura returns to being a wanderer to seek out Shishio, while being accompanied on his journey by a young Oniwabanshu ninja girl named Misao Makimachi.
Perhaps a bigger stain to the Rurouni Kenshin franchise than the Reflection OVA, New Kyoto Arc is a compressed take on the major events that took place during Rurouni Kenshin's famous Kyoto arc.
Having only ninety minutes total to tell the developments of the whole arc, New Kyoto Arc is very rushed in its developments, greatly limiting major character depth and development that took place throughout the span of the arc. What make this rather bad is the Kyoto arc was a major point within the Rurouni Kenshin storyline as the series delved more into Kenshin's past as a hitokiri with the man forced to come to terms with his bloody past when dealing with the indirect consequences his decisions had on influencing Shishio's later actions.
This rushed pacing also affects the many battle scenes that are scattered throughout the arc. While the series is polished and nicely-detailed with scenery and character designs, the title's limited run time leads to quick battle scenes that lack the polished choreography, depth and engagement that were offered from the manga and TV anime. As mentioned, depth is an issue here since Rurouni Kenshin was known to exploring conflicting ideologies between characters, shown through the battles that these characters had with one another.
Alongside the rushed pacing, New Kyoto Arc also adds in new scenes and some significant changes to the Kyoto arc's storyline from the original series. These changes either significantly affect later events in the title's plotting or are placed there to fit the OVA's 90-minute total run time. For example in the OVA, Kenshin has his final battle with Shishio aboard the Purgatory ship. Yet in the manga and TV anime, said final battle took place later on after Kenshin and his allies went through a gauntlet-style battle against several of Shishio's comrades and the Purgatory was destroyed earlier in the arc.
Dark Blue was a two-episode hentai OVA series animated by PoRo and released on April 27, 2012 and March 29, 2013. The series is based on an eroge game created by LiLiM DARKNESS.
Yukito Aizawa brings his two sisters to the mansion of his childhood friend and crush Otoha Kunoji. However, one of Yukito's sisters is mysteriously murdered as everyone stays in the mansion to seek refuge from the killer and indulge in their own pleasures.
Dark Blue's plot is mostly a backdrop to the various sexual acts shown in graphic detail involving Yukito's roommates and the boy getting arousal from seeing them occur without stepping in to halt them. What makes this element to his character rather irksome is he lets arousal get too much to his head to halt his sister being raped by her teacher and stopping his crush, Otoha, from getting nailed by Reiya.
But with this being a hentai, character depth is secondary to graphic sexual scenes playing out with all the typical foreplay you can expect with oral and anal sex, doggy style, hand jobs, breast fondling and a few other sexual positions at work.
As for the murder plot that the series eludes to, the second episode's conclusion has a poorly-explained finale revealing who the killer is without any kind of buildup or foreshadowing thanks to this title's heavy focus on its sexual antics.
Funimation and Sentai Filmworks made big announcements just today at Otakon over titles they license rescued from Bandai Entertainment. It was reported by Anime News Network back in May that both companies were in talks with Sunrise to acquire titles that were formerly distributed to home video in the North American market since Bandai's closure last year. It appears the major acquisitions have begun of Bandai's old license library. Here are the titles that Funi and Sentai had acquired from their dealings with Sunrise.
Anyone else who hasn't followed news on Bandai titles, Funimation had also announced earlier in the year that they acquired several titles in the .hack franchise with Sign, Legend of the Twilight, GU Trilogy and Roots.
In addition, Discotek picked up a couple former Bandai titles with Blue Submarine No. 6 and Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade. Blue Submarine will be getting a DVD and Blu-Ray release later in the year, while Jin-Roh will be released sometime in early 2014.
Also, RightStuf announced earlier in the year that they have acquired video distribution rights to Gundam Unicorn, as they plan to release the series to DVD in four volumes with the first three volumes consisting of two episodes each and the fourth containing the hour-and-a-half long final episode that will be released to video in Japan in Spring of next year. The first and second volumes will be released later this month on August 20.
Queen's Blade: The Exiled Virgin was a 12-episode ecchi/ action anime that aired from April 2 to June 19 of 2009. While airing uncensored during its broadcast run on AT-X, the series was heavily censored on other channels it aired on in Japan. The series was based on a manga series franchise made for several seinen magazines like HJ Bunko and Comp Ace, which were published from 2007 to 2011. The series was released to DVD for American audiences by Media Blasters in 2010.
A battle tournament called Queen's Blade is held every four years within the Continent's capital, Gainos, between various female warriors to crown a new Queen who will rule the Continent. A young woman named Leina, heiress of the acclaimed Vance family, travels to Gainos to take part in the tournament and encounters several warriors along her journey who have differing reasons for being involved in the tournament.
If there's a fetish or character type that appeals to the otaku crowd, Queen's Blade is likely to have it. For the most part, the series is one big excuse to show off the attire of its scantily-clad fighters and the perverted quirks that a number of them indulge in. There are plenty of boob and ass shots to be seen throughout the series, along with a nice amount of nudity and sexual predicaments that come along thanks to the antics of a number of this title's characters.
The first season of Queen's Blade is meant to introduce many of the characters who will be competing in the tournament. While many of them do get their focus to explore why they are participating in the tournament, it is hard to get attached to their characters when their personalities are paper-thin archetypes and the most prominent aspect that fans tend to focus on will be either their well-endowed figures, the fetish that they personify and/or the notable sexual quirk that they have. The series is also intentionally left open-ended for the second season of Queen's Blade, which would focus on the progress of the tournament.