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Firms unveil fresh batch of anime and manga


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POSTED: Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Last week was an unusually busy week in terms of announcements of new anime and manga, with three companies unveiling new products within days of one another.

Viz announced it would be releasing two new manga series in coming weeks. “;Beast Master,”; debuting today, might sound like yet another catch-all-monsters shonen (boys) manga in the vein of “;Pokemon”; and “;Yu-Gi-Oh,”; but it's actually a shojo (girls) title being published under the Shojo Beat imprint. The “;beast”; is Leo, a wild-eyed boy and a social outcast with a special connection to animals. Yukio loves animals. You can probably figure out what happens next - if you said “;they hook up, and an unorthodox, made-for-shojo-manga romance develops,”; have a cookie.

“;Jorgumand,”; out next week under the Signature imprint, is an action-adventure series for older readers. It follows Jonah, a child soldier under the tutelage of arms dealer Koko Hekmatyar and her team of mercenaries. He professes to hating violence, but as luck (and long-standing manga cliches) has it, he's the most effective fighter out there.

Over at Section23 Films - the entity born out of the ashes of ADV Films - three anime under the Sentai Filmworks label will be released in coming months. “;Hidamari Sketch,”; being released in manga form in the U.S. by Yen Press under the title “;Sunshine Sketch,”; is a slice-of-life story about four girls attending an art school. “;Glass Mask”; is based on a long-running manga about the trials and tribulations of a teen waitress who develops into a talented actress; while there was an anime that aired in Japan in 1984, the version being released is the 2005 remake. “;Neo Angelique Abyss,”; based on a series of video games in Japan, is yet another series about a typical schoolgirl who - surprise! - has a rare, latent ability that could save her world from the nasty demons attacking it.

Then there's Digital Manga Publishing, arguably the leader in yaoi manga, about pretty boys loving other pretty boys. At Yaoi-Con in San Francisco last weekend, DMP announced it picked up nine yaoi series, plus 20 more general-interest romance series under the Harlequin line for online-release.

Of particular note is the resurrection of two series that previously in limbo elsewhere: “;Kizuna: Bonds of Love,”; formerly the property of now-defunct Central Park Media's Be Beautiful imprint, and “;The Tyrant Falls in Love,”; a series to which long-in-financial-limbo publisher DramaQueen held the rights but never released.

U.S. 'Ponyo' video release on calendar

Time now for an update to a column I wrote in August, when I warned about the dangers of buying bootleg “;Ponyo”; DVDs ahead of official releases.

That warning still applies, but at least we have a U.S. target date thanks to U.S. co-producer Frank Marshall. On Thursday, Marshall confirmed on his Twitter account that the movie would be released on DVD and Blu-ray on March 2. He also noted that the two-DVD set will come with a limited-edition plush Ponyo doll.

Yes, that's a long time to wait ... longer than, say, “;G.I. Joe: The Revenge of Cobra,”; out on DVD and Blu-ray today, 88 days after it debuted in theaters. Also of concern is that, according to Anime News Network, the U.S. “;Ponyo”; won't include the Miyazaki documentary that is being released as part of the Japanese Blu-ray release in December. Still, though, I definitely support picking up official anime releases.