Pre-order the sleek new Batman figure envisioned by prolific video game designer Tetsuya Nomura

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RocketNews 24:

Tetsuya Nomura is the mastermind behind this upcoming Batman figure, the likes of which you’ve never seen before. The 44-year-old video game artist/designer/director of Square Enix fame (he’s a veteran of both the Final Fantasy series and Kingdom Hearts) personally designed this version of the Dark Knight, and if you’re a fan of both his work and DC Comics, you’d better ready your wallet now!

Even by Batman standards, this new figure is a relatively dark interpretation of everybody’s favorite brooding superhero. One look at its design and Nomura’s stylistic flourishes are evident in every little detail, from the incredibly intricate bladed arm gauntlets to the flowing, jagged cape. A pair of mobile arms sprouting from the figure’s back, which can be “deactivated” at your pleasure, add a nice personal touch.

This definitely seems like the Final Fantasy X Batman crossover that we’ve all been waiting for.

Check out these promotional images:

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The glossy black coloration accented by a rich red does wonders to further stylize the Dark Knight. Just watch out for those claws!

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At approximately 306 millimeters (12 inches) tall and weighing 670 grams (1.5 pounds), the figure has quite the threatening presence.

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Nomura’s figure is currently available for pre-order on Amazon Japan’s site for 19,786 yen (US$166.01), which is also listed as being 26% (6,998 yen/$58.72) off the list price. The actual release date is slated for July 31.

Can’t wait for Utada Hikaru’s new music? Reminisce with these 5 songs

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Audrey Magazine/Team-Yellow:

Let’s hear it for our former boss, J-Pop singer Utada Hikaru! Unlike most J-Pop idols, Utada Hikaru is well-known for writing and producing all her music, a feat that has paid off with the 52 million albums she’s sold. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Jpop, you may recognize Utada Hikaru for her Kingdom Hearts songs “Simple and Clean” and “Sanctuary.”

Although she was considered one of the most influential Japanese artists of the 2000s, Utada Hikaru announced she was going on hiatus in 2010 for personal reasons. She added that the hiatus shouldn’t last more than five years.

Now it’s 2015. Although she stepped out of the limelight, rumblings from her personal life have made it’s way to the public. Some of the news, such as her marriage, were good. Other news, such as her mother’s death, were tragic. All the while, fans made it clear that they missed her. A tribute album was released in Japan featuring artists such as Sheena Ringo and Ayumi Hamasaki.

But recent news has hinted that the wait may finally be over. Utada Hikaru has announced via twitter that she is working on a new song with the working title “Sasshire Cappucino.” Is it the end of her hiatus? No one is sure yet. But new music from Utada Hikaru is welcome and we here at Audrey thought it would be great to reminisce on five of her greatest songs while waiting for “Sasshire Cappucino.” Ranked in no particular order, here they are:


1. First Love

Released as her third single in 1999, “First Love” was written and composed by Utada Hikaru at the tender age of sixteen. This is especially surprising considering the first lines of the song translate to “our last kiss, taste like a cigarette.” Despite this edgy opener, “First Love” is primarily a song of heartbreak, with a chorus that is both wistful and devastated. Who wouldn’t cry when she sings “I’ll remember to love, you taught me how.”

 


2. Passion

Primarily known as the Japanese version to the second Kingdom Hearts opening theme, “Passion” is a beast on it’s own. The closest English equivalent would be an Enya song, but that doesn’t even fully capture this ethereal rock-ballad with the soaring background vocals. There’s also quite a few english lyrics sung backwards in the chorus. Can you find them?

 


3. FINAL DISTANCE

A ballad re-arrangement of her song “Distance,” Utada Hikaru reworked the song after she heard that the 6-year-old victim of a school stabbing, Rena Yamashita, was a fan of hers. It’s hard to do a slow, mostly-piano driven ballad without boring the listener, but “FINAL DISTANCE” always seems to evoke tears.

 


4. Kiss & Cry

Speaking of working song titles, Utada Hikaru once revealed the working title of “Kiss & Cry” was called “Dancing Leah” after the Filipina American model Leah Dizon. While “Kiss & Cry” certainly has a danceable beat, it’s not exactly club material. But then again, as long as “Kiss & Cry” is playing, we are down for anything.

 

 


5. Flavor of Life (Ballad Version)

Lastly there is “Flavor of Life (Ballad Version),” which many know as the theme song to Hana Yori Dango 2 (Boys over Flowers 2). Equally heartbreaking and catchy, “Flavor of Life” is undeniably one of Utada Hikaru’s biggest hits. In Japan alone, it sold 700,000 physical copies and 7.7 digital downloads in the year of 2007. Yeah, it’s huge and we can understand why.

 

 


 

BONUS: Sakura Nagashi

We’re cheating with this one, but this song, which was released in 2011 (after the the hiatus) for the Neon Genesis Evangelion movie, is simply exquisite. Bring on your new material when you are ready, Hikki-chan!

 

New Evangelion film’s team make video for Hikaru Utada’s new cover album

Anime News Network:

 

The official website for Hikaru Utada‘s new cover album Utada Hikaru no Uta revealed on Tuesday that the team behind the new Evangelion films will create a video for the album.

The new album will feature other artists covering Utada‘s work. The album is the second one the artist is releasing this year to commemorate her 15th anniversary. The first one was a remastered version of her debut album First Love that shipped on March 10.

Utada has also set up a special website that will feature works by different creators with a theme of one of Utada‘s songs. Aside from the Evangelion team’s video, Square Enix designer and director Tetsuya Nomura (Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy franchises) has also drawn a collaborative art piece for the project.

The website also has a work by Kumamon designer Manabu Mizuno (Utada released a single in 2006 with a song titled “Boku wa Kuma” or “I Am a Bear”).

Utada Hikaru no Uta will ship on December 9, and will feature the following artists:

  • AI
  • Yousui Inoue
  • Trio Ohashi
  • Yasuyuki Okamura
  • Miliyah Katō
  • KIRINJI
  • Ringo Sheena
  • Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis feat. Peabo Bryson
  • tofubeats with Bonnie Pink
  • Hanaregumi
  • Ayumi Hamasaki
  • Kazuya Yoshii
  • Love Psychedelico

The official website has not yet announced which songs each of the artists will perform.

Utada has been on hiatus from the entertainment business since the beginning of 2011, although she returned to host a monthly radio program called Kuma Power Hour with Utada Hikaru on the InterFM station starting in April 2013. She did contribute the song “Sakura Nagashi” as the ending theme for 2012’s Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo (Evangelion Shin Gekijō-ban: Q), but her management emphasized that the song did not represent a full-fledged return from her hiatus.

Utada‘s father Teruzane Utada had originally said in a Twitter post in October 2013 that he and his daughter would be involved in the Kingdom Hearts III theme song, but he took back that comment the next day, saying that “as of now it’s undecided.” Utada contributed the two theme songs that have been used for every game so far in the Kingdom Hearts franchise.

 

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Famous celebrities you forgot did Anime voiceovers

There are plenty of notable anime properties that are packed to the gills with A-list actors. Many of Disney‘s Studio Ghibli releases are a fine example of this, using household names like Patrick Stewart and Claire Danes as a means to draw audiences to the theaters who normally otherwise wouldn’t have given the property a second glance. Amongst them, Princess Mononoke (Billy CrudupClaire DanesMinnie DriverBilly Bob ThorntonGillian Anderson, Jada Pinkett Smith), Castle in the Sky (Anna PaquinJames Van Der BeekMandy PatinkinCloris Leachman, Andy Dick), Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (Alison LohmanShia LaBeouf, Uma ThurmanPatrick Stewart), and Kiki’s Delivery Service (Kirsten DunstPhil HartmanJaneane Garofalo) are some of the most star-studded.

But there are a lot more mainstream celebrities whom you might not have realized—or just plain forgotten— also starred in anime properties.

Do you remember the 1995 cyberpunk quadrilogy Armitage III? Back in ’97, all four OVAs were compiled into one release (called Armitage III: Poly-Matrix) by now-defunct Geneon, who was then called Pioneer. Fans may have forgotten this over the years, but it turns out that Armitage III: Poly-Matrix was full of celebs, including Keifer SutherlandElizabeth Berkley, and Bryan Cranston.

Before Keifer Sutherland blew up as Jack Bauer in 2001 on 24 (but after the incredible 1990 Flatliners, a movie about med students who experiment with visiting the afterlife that also starred Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, and William Baldwin), he played Ross Sylibus in Armitage III: Poly-Matrix.

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Co-starring with him was Elizabeth Berkley (Saved by the BellShowgirls), who played Naomi Armitage.

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Naomi Armitage has also been played by Juliette Lewis (Natural Born KillersWhat’s Eating Gilbert Grape), who played the character in Armitage III: Dual Matrix.

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And of course, the one that fans love to pull out the most to blow everyone’s minds is Bryan Cranston who is beloved for his roles in shows like Malcolm in the Middle and most recently, Breaking Bad. He has his fair share of anime credits, though, including Matti Tohn in Wings of Honneamise, Eddie Borrows in Armitage III, and most famously, Isamu Dyson in Macross Plus.

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Meanwhile, action fans might be surprised to learn that the 1986 Fist of the North Star movie showcased none other than James Avery, whom many might recognize as Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Or, as Shredder in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series.

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But wait, there’s more.

Although these examples dip back into the Disney x Studio Ghibli pot, some of these actors and actresses hadn’t yet skyrocketed to fame when these films were released, while other roles just deserve a reminder.

For instance, only a short while after she first played Princess Mia Thermopolis in the 2001 The Princess DiariesAnne Hathaway got to play another princess—this time, Haru, the bride-to-be for the Cat Prince in 2002 Studio Ghibli film The Cat Returns. Although she only had a couple roles under her belt at the time, she starred alongside a varied cast of noted film actors, amongst them Tim Curry [Rocky Horror Picture Show] (who played the Cat King), Elliot Gould [Ocean’s Eleven/Twelve/Thirteen] (Toto), and Cary Elwes [The Princess Bride] (Baron Humbert von Gikkingen).

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Also on the cast list for The Cat Returns was Kristen Bell, who was still two years away from her breakout role as Veronica Mars. She plays Hiromi in The Cat Returns. She’s no stranger to voice acting, though; she’s also voiced a few video games, including Astro Boy: The Video Game and a handful of Assassin’s Creed games.

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Spirited Away
 had some famous names as well, including Big Love and The Ring actress Daveigh Chase as Chihiro, and Bob Newhart Show co-star Suzanne Pleshette, but fans of Fantastic Four and The Shield might not realize that Michael Chiklis was also in the film, as Chichiro’s dad Akiichiro.

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With Michael Keaton‘s long and storied career, one might forget that he also played title character Porco Rosso in Studio Ghibli‘s film of the same name. Cary Elwes was also in that film, as Donald Curtis.

mkIGPXImmortal Grand Prix is less so “actors you forgot were in the series” as it might be, “series you forgot existed.” A co-production between Production I.G and Cartoon Network, it tried to get audiences to tune in by casting talents like Michelle Rodriguez [AvatarThe Fast and the Furious] and everyone’s favorite ex-child actor, Haley Joel Osment [The Sixth SenseA.I.] (who of course is famous for also playing Sora in Kingdom Hearts, alongside a slew of celebs like Hayden Panettiere, Billy Zane, Mandy Moore, and Lance Bass, amongst others).

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The IGPX dub also included Star Wars hero Mark Hamill as Yamma, who in addition to lending his voice to a billion American-animated series and video games, was also in Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles as Commander Taylor, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind as Mayor of Pejite, Dante’s Inferno: An Animated Epic as Alghiero, Castle in the Sky as Muska, and Afro Samurai: Resurrection.

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Speaking of Afro Samurai, lest anyone forget, that title also made quite the effort to stuff its cast with A-listers, including Samuel L. Jackson as Afro and Ninja Ninja, Ron Perlman as Justice, Kelly Hu as Okiku, and producer RZA as DJ (and music composer). They reprised their roles for the sequel, Afro Samurai: Resurrection, which also added Lucy Liu to the cast as Sio. Jackson has since aligned himself with several live-action anime adaptations, including Kite and the probably-dead-forever Afro Samurai.

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Check out this link:

Famous celebrities you forgot did Anime voiceovers

Video

KINGDOM HEARTS III – D23 Expo Japan 2013 Trailer

Disney nerds and Japanophiles, rejoice! This week at an exhibition in Tokyo, Square Enix showed off the first in-game footage of the newest game in their beloved collaboration with Disney, Kingdom Hearts III.

Enjoy…

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NY Times Best-Selling manga of the week

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  1. ONE PIECE, VOL. 68, by Eiichiro Oda. (VIZ Media.)
  2. ATTACK ON TITAN, VOL. 6, by Hajime Isayama. (Kodansha Comics.)
  3. ATTACK ON TITAN, VOL. 1, by Hajime Isayama. (Kodansha Comics.)
  4. DEMON LOVE SPELL, VOL. 4, by Mayu Shinjo. (VIZ Media.)
  5. NARUTO, VOL. 62, by Masashi Kishimoto. (VIZ Media.)
  6. ATTACK ON TITAN, VOL. 2, by Hajime Isayama. (Kodansha Comics.)
  7. ATTACK ON TITAN, VOL. 3, by Hajime Isayama. (Kodansha Comics.)
  8. JUDGE, VOL. 1, by Yoshiki Tonogai. (Orbit.)
  9. ATTACK ON TITAN, VOL. 4, by Hajime Isayama. (Kodansha Comics.)
  10. KINGDOM HEARTS II, VOL. 2, by Shiro Amano. (Yen Press.)

Check out this link:

NY Times Best-Selling manga of the week

Kingdom hearts

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NY Times: Best-selling Manga of the week

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Best-selling Manga of the week (sales for the week ending August 10, 2013):

  1. Naruto, Vol. 62 (VIZ Media)
  2. Bakuman, Vol. 20 (VIZ Media)
  3. Fairy Tale, Vol. 28 (Kodansha Comics)
  4. Alice In The Country of Hearts: The Clockmaker’s Story (TOKYOPOP)
  5. Pokemon Adventures, Heartgold & Soulsilver, Vol. 1 (VIZ Media)
  6. Black Butler, Vol. 14 (Yen Press)
  7. Attack On Titan, Vol. 1 (Kodansha Comics)
  8. Kingdom Hearts II, Vol. 1 (Yen Press)
  9. Attack On Titan, Vol. 2 (Kodansha Comics)
  10. Attack On Titan, Vol. 3 (Kodansha Comics)

Check out this link:

NY Times: Best-selling Manga of the week