New Dragon Ball Z Anime Series Announced. Begins July. It’s Official.

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For the first time since 1996, Dragon Ball Z will be returning to television.

Thanks to the success of two hit movies, 2013’s Battle of Gods and this year’s Revival of F , a sequel series to Dragon Ball Z will be coming to tv in just a few short months.

Taking place after the end of the Buu saga, Dragon Ball Super will continue the story of Goku and his family returning to a peaceful life before the shocking arrival of a new villain that the show’s producer’s promise “will be stronger than Buu and Frieza”.  Sure the idea of an even more powerful enemy showing up was already pretty tired after DBZ’s Cell Saga let alone during the latter half of 1996’s semi-unofficial sequel series Dragon Ball GT (taking place at the end of Z but not based on Akira Toriyama’s original manga) but this is exactly why people love this series.  High powered demi-gods getting into comically obscene battles while firing blasts that could easily decimate planets…sounds like we’re getting exactly that.

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Dragon Ball Z’s cast of characters after the Buu Saga

Unlike Dragon Ball GT however, Fuji TV producer Osamu Nozaki  tells us that Dragon Ball Super is being written by creator Akira Toriyama himself:

As I read the plot [of the series] I’ve already received from Akira Toriyama my dreams for this begin to expand. An enemy even stronger than Buu or Freeza may appear…”

Apparently the series has been secretly in production for some time now, AnimeNewsNetwork reports that the series will premiere as early as July of this year.

**UPDATE: Toei Animation has released an official statement on their website:

TUESDAY 28TH APRIL 2015

 

After 18 long years of waiting, the information arrived today! Toei Animation will produce the new Dragon Ball series, entitled Dragon Ball Super (Japanese title; tentative for English release)!
Overseen by Akira Toriyama, the series will debut on Japanese screens in July 2015 on Fuji TV.
Direct sequel to Dragon Ball Z, the series will bring together all the characters and tell their adventures after Son Goku’s fierce battle against Majin Buu.
“Having loved Dragon Ball since childhood, it is very exciting to be a part of this project,” said Osamu Nozaki, producer for Fuji Television. “Mr. Toriyama has developed a plot that’s not only a dream come true for Dragon Ball’s millions of fans, but one that will foster in a new generation of viewers.”
“I hope that this series will last a long time and have the same impact around the world as its predecessor.” said Masako Nozawa, Japanese voice actress of Dragon Ball’s Son Goku, Son Gohan and Son Goten.
Introduced as a manga in Weekly Shonen Jump (published from SHUEISHA Inc.) in 1984, Dragon Ball has evolved into a globally beloved brand.
Seen in more than 70 countries, with over 230 million copies of its comic books sold, Dragon Ball remains one of the most popular anime series of all time.

There you have it.  No crappy fanart, no Dragon Ball AF prank, it’s the real deal.  Hard to believe isn’t it?

In the meantime, be on the lookout for the English-dubbed release of Dragon Ball Z: Revival of F to hit theaters later this summer.

 

Find deals on Dragon Ball Z DVDs and BluRays on Amazon, including the new Dragon Ball Z: Battle Of Gods for $9.99

Dragon Ball Z Revival of F trailer has some surprises

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A new teaser trailer for Dragon Ball Z: The Revival of F, which you can view below, has aired in Japan.

A few things worthy of note- first off, we’re finally getting our first look at the reborn Frieza in action.  What’s interesting about this, Frieza apparently starts off the movie in his first form and works himself back to the more advanced transformation that we’re more used to.  Frieza also has a brief line in the trailer where he threatens Goku with his “new, evolved form”.  Piccolo also mentions that Frieza is different this time around, and more of a monster than ever before.

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I also liked how the trailer seems to depict a full-scale Ginyu invasion, similar to what was described when we first learned about how Frieza and his planet-cleansing business in Dragon Ball Z.

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…and finally, ROSHI IS FIGHTING?!

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I’ve already bought my ticket.

Dragon Ball Z new animated movie to revive Frieza

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Because DBZ still prints money, a sequel to the surprisingly fun 2013 animated movie Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods is on the way.  While Battle of Gods introduced a new threat and put a new spin on Goku and “Super Saiyans”, the follow-up will return to more familiar territory by bringing back a certain raspy-voiced villain.

Yes, Frieza is back.  After being revived with the Dragon Balls by two mysterious new characters, Frieza looks to exact revenge on Goku, Vegeta and presumably Trunks.  This may be disappointing to those who were pleased with the fresh concepts introduced in Battle of Gods but at the very least, the poster reassures us that Beerus (Bils), the cat-like God of Destruction from the previous film, will be back.  His role in the overall conflict is still unknown at this point- given his nature, maybe he antagonizes Frieza and pushes him to fight or perhaps he joins the “Z fighters” and stands amongst Krillin, Tien, Yamcha and Piccolo…fading into obscurity so Goku can save the day again.

Dragon Ball Z: Revival of F will be first released in theaters in Japan, April 18th 2015.

V-Jump has released more details:

The January issue of V-Jump, officially slated for release this Friday (21 November 2014), features a detailed “DB Scoop” on the upcoming Dragon Ball Z movie (originally reported by Anime News Network). The scoop features a new visual for the film, the first seen since the movie was announced this past July. It is more than likely the movie’s official poster, which features our main protagonists, Beerus, Whis, Freeza, and two new unsavory characters.

The movie poster also reveals the film’s official title and release date:

Dragon Ball Z: Revival of “F”

Opening day, set at last!!! Saturday, 18 April 2015: A super-wide release nationwide in 2D and 3D!!!

Unlike with the previous film, Kami to Kami / Battle of Gods, no supplementary or alternative English title is provided. The movie will premiere nationwide in Japan 18 April 2015 in both 2D and 3D formats. This release date is a bit earlier than expected by most, but it is perhaps intended to build the movie’s momentum going into the Golden Week holiday break.

At the moment we cannot verify plot details — or Toriyama’s comments — beyond what is currently described elsewhere. However, the general plot details from Anime News Network are as follows:

An Earth where peace has arrived. However, remnants of Freeza’s army Sorbet and Tagoma arrive on the planet. Their goal is to revive Freeza with the Dragon Balls. Their dastardly wish is granted, and the “F” that plans its revenge against the Saiyans is revived…! 

Two new characters will appear in the movie: Sorbet (ソルベ) and Tagoma (タゴマ), shown below on the left and right, respectively. Following the fine nuances of the name puns in the last film, these name puns seem awfully transparent. As with all of Freeza’s minions, as described by Akira Toriyama in the Super Exciting Guide volumes, the names are “unified as food items that one puts inside [a refrigerator]”. Therefore, Sorbet gets his name directly from the frozen dessert “sorbet”, while Tagoma’s name is derived from the Japanese word tamago (卵), meaning “egg”.

Toriyama’s original designs for the characters are included in the magazine, along with a brief description:

A mysterious pair of planetary warriors, equipped with the latest type of battle armor!! “Tagoma” in particular looks to be wearing a new type of Scouter!!

The tidbit about the new type of Scouter is very reminiscent of what Toriyama revealed in his interview with Naho Ooishi in the July 2014 issue of Saikyō Jump. He stated (bold added for emphasis):

If you’re a soldier in Freeza’s army, you can have one made to order to fit your ear. The different screen colors can be chosen to fit the peculiarities of different aliens’ eyes, or to suit one’s tastes. Also, dual-eye types exist as well.

This comment came just one month prior to the new movie being officially announced, so it is likely that Toriyama slipped this tidbit in solely because of his work on the upcoming movie, possibly having just drawn these character designs. Also of note is the text reading “更なる変” that is cut off in the upper right corner. This is likely the phrase “更なる変身”, which means “further transformation(s)”. Based on the image available, there is no indication whether this is in reference to Freeza or a Saiyan warrior.

http://www.kanzenshuu.com/2014/11/17/v-jump-unveils-new-dragon-ball-z-2015-movie-title-date/

 

Farewell Naruto, it’s been an awesome 15 years.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years since Naruto first debuted in Shonen JUMP! as the story of an orphaned prankster cursed with a Nine Tails fox demon, determined to earn the respect and love of his village despite being ostracized and hated.  It was silly, it was outlandish, it was exciting and it knew exactly how to tug at the heartstrings.  Even 700 chapters later, the story of Naruto still knows how to make us laugh just as easily as it can wet our cheeks with fresh tears.

In the final two-part issue, the first part concluding the Ninja World War arc for good and the second part a full-color time-skip epilogue, author Kishimoto Mashashi showed us that he still remembered what Naruto was always about.  Story elements that trace back as far as the very first issue, came full circle as we saw the characters who struggled and grew finally reach new heights just as a younger generation steps in to carry the torch.

If it sounds like I’m being vague, it’s because I don’t want to deprive anyone of the gift of a well-earned ending.

Shonen-style manga and anime aren’t for everyone.  They span years, sometimes even decades, introducing continuous plot-threads and twists, oftentimes never returning to solve them.  Naruto, though not without it’s lulls or occasional oddball moments, is not one of those shonen.  Naruto has earned it’s gorgeous ending and that’s something I rarely get to say when it comes to manga like this.

The story of Naruto has come to a close but the universe and it’s characters will continue on.  The anime still has a ways to go, a new movie taking place after the series (but before the epilogue) releases in December, a stage musical is in development, manga spin-off chapters are in the works and a short “encore” series will begin next Spring.

If you are new to Naruto, you can always read the manga here or watch the series on CrunchyRoll, as long as you remember to use this filler guide.

I will be putting together a compilation of Naruto’s best moments.  Until then, check out this incredibly badass tribute video set to Infected Mushroom, showing off some of the coolest fight animations in the second half of the series:

Naruto comes to an end on November 5th

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After over a year of teases and hinting from author-artist Masashi Kishimoto, it has finally been made official.  Naruto is ending on November 5th, 2014.

Love it or hate it, Naruto has easily been the most popular shonen-style manga since Dragon Ball.  Starting out as the tale of a widely disliked and ostracized orphan boy, the popular manga-turned-anime, chronicled Naruto’s journey to be recognized and loved by his village while overcoming the curse of having the Nine Tails Fox demon that destroyed his village being sealed within him.

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The first chapter premiered in Shonen Jump Weekly magazine in October of 1999.  Since then the series has enjoyed a 15 year-run popularity streak that also included two anime series, a spin-off manga, over 30 video games and over a dozen theatrical films.  The series has gotten a lot of criticism over the years for it’s English dub, the overabundance of filler episodes and the franchise’s overall popularity with younger audiences.

So where’s the appeal?

Well for starters, the eponymous main character is more complex than your usual shonen protagonist.  We’re used to seeing a fish-out-of-water type who is supported and loved by a ragtag group of friends, has an upbeat friendly attitude and goal that involves protecting the people he loves.  Naruto Uzamaki was not a Goku or a Luffy.  He was a mischievous, clumsy, rude, dopey brat who was almost universally despised by not only his classmates, but by the entire village of children and adults alike.  He had to work hard, build new skill sets, suffer great losses and constantly prove himself throughout the course of his teen years.  In doing so Naruto gradually attracts a massive array of fascinating, unique and well-developed characters that begin to support his dream of being village’s leader or “Hokage”.

…but perhaps the most alluring element of this series is the understatedly complex bond that Naruto shares with the boy he considers his best friend, Sasuke Uchiha.  Some of the series most gripping, heart-wrenching moments are built around Naruto’s bullheaded devotion to Sasuke, a morally-ambiguous character who has overcome countless horrors not limited to experiencing the murder of his entire family at the hands of his older brother.  Sasuke is constantly tortured and tempted by power, fueled by his unresolved suffering and hatred that drives his treasonous, often murderous actions.  One of the most powerful moments that comes to mind is a scene that involves Naruto suffering a very realistic panic attack when his friends reveal some news regarding Uchiha- without spoiling the details, I’ll say that he’s like Anakin Skywalker, only well-written.

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Naruto boasts some of the most emotionally captivating moments in all of anime, offering both readers and viewers alike a great deal of payoff for their invested time.  It’s shame that that so much time is required in the first place.  Unlike Naruto, it’s a bit easier to tell people to watch some of the greats like Cowboy Bebop, Steins;Gate or Gurren Lagann which all fall under 30 episodes.  I’ll even push people to watch Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood- because despite it’s 64-episode long run, each episode is bursting at the seams with character depth, emotional impact and exciting action sequences.  Between Naruto and it’s sequel series Naruto Shippuden however, there are over 560 episodes.  Yes, it helps to have a guide of filler episodes to skip, or a nifty fan re-edit, but even if you were to cut the series down to 200 episodes, it’s still a little much for today’s viewing audience.

Still, if you decide to take the plunge and marathon the series or even power through the manga (which would be much faster), you will find yourself immensely satisfied.  There’s a good reason why Naruto has lasted as long as it has.

Though the manga officially ends the story on November 5th, Naruto fans still have a lot to look forward to.  The anime is far from over, there will still be plenty of video games, including the new Ultimate Ninja Storm release, and finally, a theatrical film to be released in December titled Naruto: The Last, rumored to be penned by Kishimoto himself and detail events taking place years after the manga’s ending.

Much like the undying Dragon Ball Z, this franchise is far from over.


This trailer quite effectively sums up why Naruto is such an epic tale.

Cowboy Bebop Finally Getting Blu-Ray Release In U.S.

Often cited as the greatest anime of all time,  Cowboy Bebop introduced a generation of young adults to anime over a decade ago. I like to think that it finished what Akira started, proving to the United States that anime was a medium to be respected, not just “cartoons for kids”.

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With an assortment of exciting and engaging stories, intriguing and fun characters, beautiful animation, a stunning jazz soundtrack and a legendary ending that left audiences breathless, the series quickly reached “classic” status, pushing director Shinchiro Wantanabe to direct other beloved series like Samurai Champloo, Kids on the Slope and Space Dandy, even inspiring medium beyond Japan (ahem…FIREFLY). Cowboy Bebop enjoyed high ratings on Adult Swim and Toonami thanks to Cartoon Network frequently bringing the series back due to audience demand, despite the series only having 26-episodes. In fact, this just happened AGAIN though the network admits the episodes are not in HD. Ok fine, we’ll just buy them on…oh wait. Though Cowboy Bebop: The Movie got a Blu-Ray release, the only official releases of the series have been in VHS and DVD form (in virtually the same quality). Last year Japan and Europe enjoyed a Blu-Ray release but there hasn’t been any word on a US release until now. Yes, Cowboy Bebop is finally coming to blu-ray and fully remastered too!

Before you get scared about the quality being ruined by softened outlines, cropping and darker colors, take a look at the comparison below. comparison1 Looks great right?

Fans will have four options for purchase:

o   DVD standard edition
o   Blu-ray standard edition
o   Amazon Exclusive BD/DVD Premium Edition
o   FUNimation.com Exclusive BD/DVD Premium Edition   The two Premium Editions will each feature different packaging and premium items, but their precise details will be announced later.

Cowboy Bebop: The Complete Series will be released later this year on December 16th.

Pre-order Cowboy Bebop: The Complete Series – Amazon Exclusive Edition (Blu-ray/DVD Combo).

Move over Attack On Titan, Gurren Lagann is coming to Adult Swim

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During Cartoon Network’s Toonami Tumblr Q&A on Sunday it was announced that the Adult Swim block has snatched up the rights to begin airing anime cult-hit Gurren Lagann. The award-winning series was previously owned by The SciFi Channel (when it was spelled that way) and first aired the series in 2008 as part of their Anime Monday scheduling.

Produced by animation studio Gainax (FLCL, Neon Genesis Evangelion) and written by Japanese novelist and playwright Kazuki Nakashima, Gurren Lagann originally found it’s footing with absurdist humor and surreal post-apocalyptic landscapes, frequently satirizing the popular “mech” genre of anime. The series eventually takes a dramatic turn, exploring themes of death, self-reliance, suicide, friendship and a heavy emphasis on existentialism. Without losing it’s surreal scope and humor, Gurren Lagann becomes a very emotional, weighted series that has been heavily analyzed by fans for it’s philosophical bearings.

Gurren Lagann takes place in the distant future, in a world where the human race has been mysteriously condemned to live in caverns deep below the surface. A boy named Simon, an outcast in his village, is an expert at drilling for treasure despite grappling with some major PTSD over the crushing (literally) death of his parents. Eccentric and theatrically machismo fellow villager Kamina assumes a “big brother” role for Simon, protecting him from danger and inspiring him to dig past the surface and discover the dangerous world above. The duo allign themselves with a diverse and colorful cast of friends, overcoming shocking twists and eventually learning the truth behind humanity’s downfall.

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Gurren Lagann not only has a reputation for being an inspirational and deeply empowering series, it also spawned a popular internet meme back in the late 2000’s. Just don’t be surprised if you recognize some of the dialogue or a certain pair of orange shades.

I cannot emphasize this enough, Gurren Lagann is an incredible anime that deserves your time and attention. There’s a good reason why it is often mentioned in the same breath as FLCL, Death Note and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. It is quite simply one of the most powerful and engaging anime series of the 2000’s.

Gurren Lagann will premiere through Adult Swim’s Toonami block on Cartoon Network August 16th at 2am.  If you don’t want to wait until then, you can always view the series on Crunchy Roll, Hulu, KissAnime or grab the dvd sets on Amazon.

Check out the official Toonami announcement here.

 

FYI- if you’re already a Gurren fan, they just released the official artbook in the United States in May.

Cowboy Bebop Director’s Terrorism Anime May Cause Controversy

Hot off the hype of Space Dandy, Wantanabe is premiering yet another new series later this summer.  Zankyō no Terror or “Terror In Tokyo” will team Wantanabe with Cowboy Bebop composer Yoko Kanno and Samurai Champloo character designer Kazuto Nakazawa.

We’ve actually been hearing from Shinichiro Wantanabe a lot more in recent years. For the uninformed, Mr. Wantanabe directed two episodes of the Animatrix (Kid’s Story, Detective Story), the animated sequence in Kill Bill, the hip-hop infused Samurai Champloo(2004) and the critically adored Cowboy Bebop(1998).  In more recent years, we’ve seen the release of Kids on the Slope, a manga adaptation about misfit high school kids bonding over jazz, reuniting him with Cowboy Bebop music director Yoko Kanno.  Only two months ago the duo also premiered Space Dandy, a self-aware spoof of classic space-themed anime, on Cartoon Network’s Toonami block.   Often described as “Cowboy Bebop on acid”, you would do yourself a great disservice by not checking out this trailer.

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Quite the resume, is it not? Though his new series looks to carry quite a different tone from his previous works…

Terror In Tokyo depicts a modern-day Tokyo in shambles after a massive terrorist bombing has wrought unimaginable death and destruction upon the city. Unbeknownst to the authorities, the terrorist group behind the violent attacks, known as Sphinx, are just two young boys…two young boys with grandiose plans that will encompass all of Japan.

Yes, that’s right. In his new series, the child protagonists are behind terrorist bombings in densely populated areas. While morbid concepts such as this are not exactly foreign to the medium, it’s quite shocking to see Wantanabe take this kind of route. Maybe the series will play out like Death Note, a cat and mouse game where the protagonist isn’t the good guy and is someone we eventually desire to see fail…most of us anyway. Even so, it’s hard to imagine a series like this reaching television without any controversy or objection, especially when it inevitably begins airing on Cartoon Network in the United States.

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Look at the two smoking buildings in the promotional poster. If that’s not a bulls-eye for Fox News to use the word “anime” for the first time in it’s 18-year existence, I don’t know what is.

It is possible that the trailer and promotional materials are meant to mislead the audience, causing us to speculate how we could possibly root for child-characters who successfully execute 9/11-style attacks on a massive civilian population.  “Trust in Wantanabe” I say, he is a master of the unexpected and knows how to build a series that can be appreciated by an internationally wide audience.

He has my curiosity that’s for sure. Check out the first trailer:

Terror In Tokyo premieres in July.

Gurren Lagann art book gets a US release date!

 

I just wanted to make a quick public service announcement to inform people of something that they need to kn- who am I kidding? “Just who the hell do you think I am?”  I’m a Gurren Lagann fanboy and I’m really excited that the art book for this gorgeous series is finally getting a U.S. release date on June 10th!

 
Now if only it were socially acceptable to wear Kamina’s glasses in public…

            Click here to pre-order “Gurren Lagann: Art Works” on Amazon