Artist depicts kill count of major Dragon Ball heroes in cool illustrations

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RocketNews 24:

Insofar as you can say that a character in the Dragon Ball  universe can really “die” (Krillin has supposedly “died” so many times we’re suspicious he’s actually a Terminator) there have been a lot of major deaths in the franchise, and the large majority of those kills are, unsurprisingly, at the hands of the series’ primary protagonists.

Even though the series is ostensibly a kids’ show, the weighty subject matter, with battles often fought to determine whether or not entire worlds and/or solar systems will be blown up, basically demands that somebody’s gotta give up the ghost once in a while. But it’s hard to get a handle on the true extent of the carnage, given that every major death is typically punctuated by nine episodes of people yelling and grunting.

Now, though, we can finally get an at-a-glance picture of how many kills each hero in the series has racked up, thanks to these neat illustrations by DeviantArtist, Alberto Cubatas.

It’s not entirely clear what medium Cubatas used to put together these amazingly detailed pieces which emulate series creator Akira Toriyama’s art style to a T, but to our (admittedly untrained) eyes, it looks a hell of a lot like they’re hand-drawn and colored. So far, Cubatas has put together kill-count illustrations for series heroes Goku, Gohan, Vegeta, Piccolo, Yamcha, and Trunks:

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Now, I’m not going to even pretend that I know who most of these murdered villains are – which explains why, to me, Goku’s kills kind of just make him look like a serial animal abuser – but it’s clear that Cubatas has done a pretty exhaustive job of representing each character’s victories. Still, we’re well aware a lot of our readers are hardcore DBZ fans. If you notice Cubatas has missed a corpse or two, sound off in the comments section below.

Be sure to check out Alberto’s page over on DeviantArt.

The Hollywood Reporter: Is Japanese anime finally making money abroad?

'Stand By Me Doraemon'

‘Stand By Me Doraemon’
The Hollywood Reporter (by Gavin J. Blair):

Japanese anime has attracted a cult following around the globe for decades, but has long struggled to parlay that dedicated fandom into revenue.

Complex rights holder arrangements in Japan, slow international releases and pirated versions with fan-created subtitles have all contributed to restrict the financial rewards for both anime TV series and movies in the global marketplace.

However, the latest Doraemon movie brought in nearly $100 million outside Japan, while Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ is nudging $50 million in the middle of a 74-country release.

Meanwhile, TV anime series are getting faster international distribution, including day-and-date releases on some platforms. With a shrinking home market, the pressure is on to better leverage the global fan-base that has helped make anime one of Japan’s most recognizable cultural symbols.  

The most successful Japanese anime film to date is Hayao Miyazaki‘s 2003 Academy Award-winning Spirited Away, which scored around 85 percent of its $275 million global tally in its home market. To put that in perspective, Stand by Me Doraemon took nearly double Spirited Away‘s overseas total over the course of 11 days in release in China alone.

Nevertheless, Toho, which handled its domestic release and international sales, thinks it’s too early to say that the overseas box-office conundrum for anime has been cracked.

I think it’s the strength of the film itself. And the Doraemon brand is very strong, especially in Asia,” Takemasa Arita of Toho’s international business department tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s not like any animation from Japan is going to automatically succeed overseas now.”

Stand by Me Doraemon was no slouch at home, clocking up $70 million last year before landing $3.2 million in Italy, $3 million in Indonesia, $2.7 million in South Korea and $1.2 million in Thailand. It was the $5 million-plus, record-breaking take in the small Hong Kong market though that was a harbinger of its performance on the mainland.

Released on May 28 – due to political tensions, the first Japanese film in Chinese theaters in nearly three years – the cat-type robot racked up $86.9 million in less than two weeks. Although the rise of China as a box-office giant is a game changer across the global film industry, anime is getting paid elsewhere, too.  

Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ is the 19th installment in the franchise and not the first to get a wide release internationally. 2013’s Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods did approximately 40 percent of its $50 million global box office outside Japan, and Resurrection ‘F’ is on course to surpass that. Co-produced with Fox International, the anime feature’s world premiere was held in Los Angeles in April. Still performing well in South and Latin American markets, it has U.S. and China releases to come.  

Toei Animation, the company behind Dragon Ball, is one of five studios, along with two ad agencies, that launched the Daisuki online anime platform in 2013, aimed at overseas fans of TV anime. At the end of last year, the private-public Cool Japan Fund invested around $8 million in the venture, forming the Japan Anime Consortium, to boost its worldwide presence.  

Many Japanese anime content holders are small companies, and it’s difficult for them to breach the global market, with all the costs of localizing productions,” a Cool Japan Fund spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter. “Piracy has also been a major problem, and the plan is to release some anime series simultaneously with their broadcast on Japanese TV.”

In addition to pay-per-view offerings and original content, the Daisuki platform also sells anime merchandising, though it doesn’t disclose its viewing figures.

Japan’s population fell by more than 260,000 last year and is rapidly aging. Under-25s, the key demographic for anime fans, now make up only around 20 percent of the population, and their numbers are set to continue falling.

Amid those trends, the industry will have to learn to tap more of the global market if it is to survive in anything close to its present form.   

Dragon Ball makes a return to TV after 18 years

Dragon Ball will be making a television comeback in an all-new anime show titled Dragon Ball Super. It will be the fifth television series to spring off of Akira Toriyama’s original anime series and will be unlike any of the previous shows that aired almost 18 years ago. The revamping effort is being written by Toriyama himself, and will be taking place a couple of years after Goku defeats Majin Buu.

Dragon Ball Super will be premiering on Fuji TV in Japan this July. Fuji TV producer Osamu Nozaki revealed, “As I read the plot I’ve already received from Akira Toriyama, my dreams for this begin to expand. An enemy even stronger than Buu or Freeza may appear…

There’s no word on a North American English release yet, but we’re sure one will be following soon.

Japanese voters pick the top manga, anime, and other works they wish to see introduced abroad

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RocketNews 24:

With the ever-growing presence of Japanese media abroad, fans of various mediums might sometimes find themselves at a loss as to which series to begin next. Fortunately, a massive poll has now made the process much easier by picking out the cream of the crop as chosen by the Japanese public.

Sponsored by Japanese newspaper the Yomiuri Shinbun, Sugoi Japan recently held its first Grand Prix to determine which works in four categories–manga, anime, light novel, and entertaining novel–people deemed most worthy of being introduced abroad. Though the choice of Attack on Titan as the top manga will surprise few, given its explosive popularity, the winner of the anime category might catch some by surprise.

The award was established last year to mark the 140th anniversary of the Yomiuri Shinbun. Among works released between January 1, 2005 and July 31, 2014 (hence, no Neon Genesis Evangelion, Dragon Ball, etc.), voters were asked to choose those which they would like to see gain greater recognition around the world or which they thought most likely to prove successful with foreign audiences.

The list of choices, which included both expert and general recommendations, comprised a total of 203 works. Participants could cast three votes in each category any time between October 1 and December 31, 2014.

Attack on Titan won over the agriculture-themed Silver Spoon and volleyball shōnen Haikyū! to take the top manga prize. Meanwhile, Magical Girl Madoka Magica, a dark take on the popular “magical girl” genre, emerged victorious in the anime category with a total of 77,631 votes.

Iwakami Atsuhiro, the Aniplex producer of Madoka, was present at the award ceremony to collect the prize. He commented:

Anime as a genre has had a big impact these past ten years, even while undergoing many changes–for example, the birth of late-night anime and hit series. I think this award proves just how active the industry has been. I want to carry Japan’s creative works abroad, so I’d like to see them gain even greater recognition at home.”

Foreign publishers and filmmakers are certainly keeping a close eye on products from Japan. For example, one prominent contest endorsement comes from none other than Guillermo del Toro, the acclaimed director and self-proclaimed Japan fanatic whose film Pacific Rim (2013) notably paid homage to the mecha genre. In a statement on the Sugoi Japan website, he writes:

The Sugoi Japan project will reveal amazing Japanese properties that will enrich the exchange of ideas, characters and stories that has connected both hemispheres of the globe for centuries now. I, for one, couldn’t be more eager to discover them and be stimulated by their great creativity and originality.”

Take a look below for the top ten in the four categories. Personally, we found our to-read list just doubled looking through these.

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■ Manga Top 10

1. Attack on Titan

2. Silver Spoon

3. Haikyū!

4. March Comes in Like a Lion

5. Space Brothers

6. Everyday

7. One-Punch Man

8. A Bride’s Story

9. Saint Young Men

10. Assassination Classroom

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■ Anime Top 10

1. Magical Girl Madoka Magica

2. Tiger and Bunny

3. Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion

4. Idolmaster

5. Love Live!

6. Mushishi

7. Attack on Titan

8. Natsume’s Book of Friends

9. Psycho-Pass

10. Steins;Gate

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■ Light Novel Top 10

1. My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU

2. Sword Art Online

3. Spice and Wolf

4. No Game No Life

5. Humanity Has Declined

6. Fate/Zero

7. The Irregular at Magic High School

8. Baka and Test

9. Horned Owl and King of the Night

10. My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute

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■ Entertainment Novels Top 10

1. Library War

2. From the New World

3. The Night is Short, Start Walking Young Maiden

4. Tenchi: The Samurai Astronomer

5. Confession

6. Genocidal Organ

7. Another

8. Accuracy of Death

9. The Glorious Team Batista

10. It’s Me, It’s Me

A brief history of Hollywood trying — and mostly failing — to adapt anime

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A weird truth: Even in the midst of the current comic book gold-rush, major studios can’t seem to get a good anime or manga adaptation off the ground—although the influence of those works can be seen everywhere. This weekend’s Big Hero 6 is based on a Marvel comic that’s heavily (perhaps even problematically) inspired by anime and manga. As tangentially connected to the art form as Big Hero 6 is, could it be the harbinger of a sea change in Hollywood’s approach to manga and anime?

Tackling this question can be kind of tricky—after all, “anime” and “manga” are styles rather than the names of genres. While works that fall under those umbrella share a general visual language and similar approaches to storytelling, anime and manga tell all sorts of stories—slice of life, romance, mystery, supernatural thriller, action.

One of the reasons it took so long for American filmmakers to even begin considering adapting manga or anime is because of how long it took for the source material to even become popular stateside. The first anime to find success here weren’t the action-heavy, mind-bending sort that would become prominent in the boom years of the late ’80s and early ’90s, but much lighter fare like Speed Racer and Astro Boy in the ’60s and ’70s. But even during those boom years, anime adaptations usually didn’t fare well. For example:

The GuyverOne of the first notable anime adaptations to be made in the US, this 1991 film starred Mark Hamil and was based off the 1985 manga Bio Booster Armor Guyver, by Yoshiki Takaya. Both the film and manga centered on a young man who discovers The Guyver Unit, an alien device that spawns a sort of biological super-suit that an unwitting young man bonds with in order to fight an evil megacorporation (and also alien monsters). The film was panned both for being B-movie cheese and also for straying from the source material’s far darker, more violent story.

A direct-to-video sequel, Guyver: Dark Hero would stay closer to the manga’s more violent roots, but the rubber-suited aliens still left a lot to be desired when compared to the manga’s anime adaptation.

Street Fighter: While not technically based on an anime or manga, Capcom’s legendary fighting game would go on to inspire plenty of adaptations—including the notorious 1994 Jean Claude Van Damme film. There are many reasons why this did not go well, but at least people saw it—unlike the 2009 reboot, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li, which you’re probably remembering for the first time right now.

Fist of the North Star: Another hyper-violent action anime received an unfaithful adaptation that doubled as a really bad movie. Here’s clip from that movie. It is very bad. Unless it’s after 2 A.M., and you’re looking for this sort of thing. Then I suppose it’s great.

The MatrixWhile, again, not technically based on an anime or manga, The Matrix represents a watershed moment in how Hollywood looked at anime. According to producer Joel Silver, the Wachowskis pitched him the film by showing him an anime film (according to Wikipedia, it was Mamoru Oshii’s 1995 classic Ghost in the Shell), saying “We want to do that for real.” The 1999 film, with its mix of philosophical science fiction and stunning action scenes, is the closest a major Hollywood release had ever gotten to faithfully depicting the medium of anime. Incidentally, while a large number of anime adaptations would enter development in the intervening years, none would make it to the big screen until the Wachowskis’ next directorial effort, five years after 2003’s The Matrix Revolutions.

The debt that the film franchise owed to anime would be acknowledged in the direct-to-video release The Animatrix, an anime anthology of short stories set in the film’s world.

Stronger: Kanye West’s music video for his hit 2007 single heavily references Katsuhiro Otomo’s landmark 1980s anime film/manga series Akira. Let’s talk a little bit about Akira. Both the manga and the film adaptation are pinnacles of their respective mediums, cyberpunk masterworks that use their dystopian futures to explore deep philosophical and societal quandaries. Critically acclaimed in the U.S., Akira is largely responsible for popularizing anime and manga stateside. A Hollywood film adaptation has been in development hell since at least 2002—the last update came in February of 2014—but don’t hold your breath for it. It’s quite likely that Kanye’s music video is the closest we’ll get to an American adaptation—and maybe that’s a good thing.

Speed Racer: While it was poorly received at the time, the Wachowski’s Speed Racer succeeds by being exactly what it set out to be—a bright, colorful adventure for kids. Which, in turn, makes it exactly like its source material. Unfortunately, the film’s poor critical reception and box office performance very likely served to further stigmatize anime adaptations to big studios.

Dragon Ball: Evolution: Akira Toriyama’s seminal manga Dragon Ball and the anime it inspired, was, along with Sailor Moon, an entire generation’s introduction to the medium. As such, the series is pretty sacrosanct in the eyes of fans—and even if it doesn’t hold up all that well, it retained a certain heart and charm that never really gets old. The film that came out in 2009 had none of these things.

Pacific Rim: Like The Matrix, Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 blockbuster isn’t an adaptation of any particular manga or anime. Instead, it’s a Western take on giant mecha-action epics like Gundam. While it’s a pretty straightforward bit of sci-fi action, it is very, very good at what it does—and perhaps clears the way for the genre’s stranger, more complex fare like Neon Genesis Evangelion.

Oldboy: Spike Lee’s 2013 revenge thriller is an unfortunate case of Hollywood’s inability to leave well enough alone. Originally a 1996 manga by Goron Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi, the story already received an acclaimed film adaptation in 2003 by South Korean director Park Chan-wook—one that’s far preferable to the American version. Which is a shame, because the U.S. cast is pretty stellar.

Edge of Tomorrow: Although it received really good reviews, Edge of Tomorrow didn’t perform so well in the box office. Perhaps if it kept the name of the manga it was based on — Hiroshi Sakurazaka and Yoshitoshi Abe’s All You Need Is Kill—it would’ve been more more memorable to those watching the trailers. But as the latest Hollywood effort in manga/anime adaptation, it’s quite the hopeful note to end on.

[UPDATE — As some readers have pointed out, All You Need Is Kill was originally a novel. The manga adaptation, by Ryusuke Takeuchi and Takeshi Obata, came out roughly at the same time as the film.]

While this list is pretty spare, it doesn’t include the wealth of optioned material languishing in development hell or shelved for any number of years. James Cameron’sBattle Angel Alita is a great example—the director has the rights to make a movie, but won’t even start thinking about that until he’s done with the next ten Avatar films.

But if you’re not too jaded by the number of non-starters, it’s quite possible that we’re now on the cusp of a new wave of quality Hollywood films based on anime and manga. With the previously-noted critical success of Edge of Tomorrow and reports of Scarlett Johanssen signing up for the lead role in Ghost in the Shell, it looks like Hollywood is finally ready to start looking at comic books that weren’t made in America for inspiration. If they do, then movie theaters will doubtless become a stranger—and more interesting—place.

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Japanese Teens Fight Each Other With Tuba Guns in New Photo Meme

Tuba Gun

photo via @MkHr0318

Japanese teens have created Tuba Guns, another clever photo meme in which band members fight one another with musical instruments. Previously, we posted about photo memes including staged Dragon Ball Kamehameha attacks,Harry Potter Quidditch games, Vadering, and fights with human-eating giants from the Attack on Titan anime.

Kotaku’s Brian Ashcraft has more on the newest Tuba Gun meme.

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photo via @yu1aaa

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photo via @Bergamot624

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photo via @CityTuba

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photo via @9220Shiho

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photo via @hornhrk315

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photo via @kasundaaaaa

Tuba Gun

photo via @Ren565

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Japanese Teens Fight Each Other With Tuba Guns in New Photo Meme