Thursday, March 31, 2011

March 2011 Haul


March was a good month. My wallet disagrees.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

It's Time to Stop Dueling

TV Tokyo Corporation and Nihon Ad Systems have ended their license arrangement with 4Kids Entertainment for the Yu-Gi-Oh! franchise. And they are suing 4Kids for over four million dollars. The Japanese licensors claim 4Kids withheld money owed to them from profits made from deals with Funimation and Majesco to produce Yu-Gi-Oh DVDs and video games. After some unsuccessful attempts to settle the dispute, 4Kids have lost the rights to Yu-Gi-Oh.

I find this to be sad news even though I'm not personally affected. I've never been much of a fan of Yu-Gi-Oh. Granted Yu-Gi-Oh 5Ds does have the greatest premise of all time; in the future people battle against each others in packed stadiums by playing trading card games while simultaneously racing against each other on motorcycles. And yet I can't say I've seen an entire episode. I did like the surprisingly dark early chapters of Kazuki Takahashi's manga before the story was overtaken with card games. But beyond that I'm not a fan.

Still is a world without Yu-Gi-Oh a world we want to live in? Okay the world will still have Yu-Gi-Oh and it probably won't be absent from North America for very long either. There's a new series, Yu-Gi-Oh Zexal, debuting in Japan very soon. I'm doubtful they would continue making new Yu-Gi-Oh series if not for their international appeal. TV Tokyo and NAS will probably find a new distributor for Yu-Gi-Oh. However if Yu-Gi-Oh isn't as integral to this new distributor as it was to 4Kids then I could see the production of new episodes eventually drying up.

This isn't the first property 4Kids has lost. They lost the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when Mirage sold the rights to Viacom. Before that was Pokémon. My understanding is that Nintendo underestimated how profitable Pokémon would be and felt they were giving up money by letting a third party company handle it. Pokémon has turned out to be consistently popular so that loss probably hurts 4Kids now more than it did when it happened. Yu-Gi-Oh on the other hand isn't as successful as it once was.

4Kids hasn't had a new hit in awhile. Years old repeats of Sonic X outperform any of their other shows. 4Kids even commissioned an additional season of Sonic X that did not air in Japan. I'm surprised they haven't ordered even more episodes, but there is a rumor that 4Kids' relationship with Sega has deteriorated. In interviews former CEO Al Khan said he wanted to decrease his ties with Japan. Perhaps that was an early hint at their problems? He said "Japan" was a fad and was over. He wanted to develop original properties that they wouldn't have to share. However Viva Piñata and Chaotic did not set the world on fire, and they seemed to have re-embraced anime as the basis for their programming, rebranding the CW4Kids as Toonzai and airing Dragonball Z Kai.

People have been predicting the end of 4Kids for some time now. While the end hasn't come just yet, the loss of their biggest cash cow is a huge blow. It's theorized that the recent retirement of CEO Al Khan may be the result of knowing this lawsuit was coming. Is a world without 4Kids a world we want to live in? Yeah, most would. A lot of the damage done to the company has been self inflicted. Most fans hate them, with good justification, and would love to see them go away. My own sense of schadenfreude is a bit less than I would have expected, but it's there.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Goku Needs Your Energy



Watch this message from DragonBall and Dr. Slump creator Akira Toriyama. All proceeds earned from views of the video will be donated to relief efforts for the earthquake in Japan.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

First Full Captain America Trailer



The digital Chris Evans as pre-super serum Steve Rogers is ...weird. I think it's his shortness. I think if all they did was make him look frail I wouldn't have thought twice about it.

Updated 3/29: The video has been removed. The trailer is viewable at the official site.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Skeletor Figures I Want In Masters of the Universe Classics

I only recently got into Masters of the Universe Classics and I don't yet have figures of the big two, He-Man or Skeletor. Both characters had a few different variations in the vintage line and with Classics meant to encompass all incarnations of Masters of the Universe there's potential for way more. Mattel has already released some surprising version like Preternia He-Man. Battle Armor Skeletor went on sale on Tuesday and is already sold out. That's not a Skeletor figure I have a great interest in but there are a few that I would like to see. Here are five incarnations of Skeletor I want to see included in Classsics line.

5. Horde Skeletor

This is a sketch for an unproduced figure of Skeletor wearing what appears to be Horde armor. He has his own version of the Horde bat insignia with his face on it. I think we could see this design finally turned into a figure in Masters of the Universe Classics. With Vikor, Mattel has shown they're willing to turn unused concepts into action figures. How will they fit this design into Classics canon? Perhaps it represents Skeletor soon after merging with Demo-Man, hence the more demonic appearance.

4. Laser Light Skeletor


Along with Laser Power He-Man, Laser Light Skeletor was one of the last toys to be released in the original line. They were only made available in parts of Europe. Another thing that makes the figures interesting is how they have a similar aesthetic with the New Adventures toys and act as a bridge between the two eras. In some ways I prefer Laser Light Skeletor to the New Adventures version. I like his cape and hood and the translucent red Havoc Staff.

3. New Adventures Skeletor


I still have to rank New Adventures Skeletor just above Laser Light Skeletor. Skeletor's first figure from the short lived '90s He-Man line has probably the best chance of the variants on this list to actually be made as Classics toy. It'd be a little different from the original with a stockier build. I think Skeletor worked better as a slimmer character than New Adventures He-Man did. Additionally I think it'd be cool if the NA Skeletor figure's staff, instead of being molded in solid gray like the original toy, featured a deco that matched that of the role-play staff.

3. Disk of Doom Skeletor

Technically this is also a New Adventures Skeletor. Disk of Doom Skeletor was his second figure in the line and was incorporated into the cartoon. Although I'm using an image based on the toon, I would greatly prefer a figure based on the original toy. I had it as a kid and I loved the detail in the figure who was even more "cyborgy" than the first NA Skeletor. But most of all I loved the face mask that opened up and revealed a face that strongly resembled the vintage Skeletor toy.

1. "Lifetime" Skeletor

I want a Frank Langella movie Skeletor as much as the next guy, but Mattel doesn't have the rights to the movie and honestly I wouldn't be interested in a "Classic-ized" movie Skeletor. I want a movie Skeletor figure to look like Frank Langella as Skeletor.

You know what figure I would love to see in the Classics line? Skeletor as seen in "Lifetime", a two-part storyline that ran in 12th and 13th issues of the Masters of the Universe comic book published by Star Comics. I only had the second part as a kid but I loved it. In "Lifetime" Prince Adam travels to a future where Skeltor has conquered Eternia. The future Skeletor wore an outfit clearly inspired by the live action movie. A Classics figure based on that design would be a way to pay some homage to the movie as well a pretty cool story from the comics.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Anticipated Blu-ray Discs 2

It was a year ago today that I wrote about some movies I wanted to see released on Blu-ray disc. Amazingly a large amount of the titles I mentioned ended up being released in the past year including the Alien Anthology, the Back to the Future Trilogy, the 1933 King Kong, Seven Samurai, the theatrical cut of Grindhouse and Disney’s animated Alice in Wonderland.

In addition to those the Star Wars Saga, Citizen Kane, and the original Tron have all been announced as coming this year. That’s amazing. So what titles from last year's article are left.

Jurassic Park - It hasn't been officially announced but the rumor is it's coming soon. Hopefully sometime this year.

Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair - There's been some major recent developments concerning this one. Tarantino will be screening the complete cut at the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles beginning at the end of the month. Supposedly this will be more than just Vol. 1 and Vol.2 edited together. O-Ren Ishi's origin story features newly animated footage. I think some kind of home video release for The Whole Bloody Affair will happen soon enough.

Suspiria - Dario’s Argento's Inferno comes out on Blu-ray at the end of this month, but what of Suspiria? I think the Weinstein Company has the rights and they might be sitting on them until the remake gets off the ground.

The Rocketeer - It's an obscure adventure title from the early Nineties, but I was the right age to be a fan of it when it came out. Since then the film has developed a nice cult following. I think the Rocketeer stands a chance of being released on Blu-ray, especially if Disney tries to capitalize on the film's director putting out another WWII era superhero movie this year.

Super Mario Bros - Much of what I said about The Rocketeer applies here as well except Mario Bros lacks a cult following. Actually it’s pretty widely derided. I enjoy the movie out of nostalgia and in an "I can't believe this movie even exists" sort of way. I don't know if there are enough people out there who feel similarly to warrant Mario Bros getting a Blu-ray release. But if the Van Damme Street Fighter is on Blu-ray release then I can't completely give up on Mario Bros.

Disney Classics – There are certain movies expected to be released as part of the Diamond Edition line and others which do have the same guarantee. Last year I wrote about Aladdin and Dumbo, the latter of which did get a Blu-ray disc just not in the U.S. The outlook has improved with Disney releasing animated classics that are not considered Diamond Editions including the recently announced The Fox and the Hound. And Fantasia was not labeled a Diamond Edition which leaves room for Aladdin to be a part of the line.

Studio Ghibli films – I mentioned Princess Mononoke and Only Yesterday by name in the previous article, but I'd love to see all the Ghibli films come to Blu-ray. One that just came out is Nausicaä. It was released in Japan first, and I think that's the key to how the Ghibli films will be distributed in North America. We won't get titles until after Japan does. Currently Laputa: Castle in the Sky and My Neighbors the Yamadas are available in Japan. I have a hard time imagining Disney giving the Yamadas a hi-def release in North America. Still I'll be very much looking forward to Laputa on Blu-ray.

End of Evangelion - On a similar note I don't think an End of Eva Blu-ray is in the cards until Gainax releases one in Japan. With their focus on the Rebuild of Evangelion I don't see it happening for awhile, but it is inevitable. When it comes to Evangelion Gainax isn’t going to leave money on the table.

Perfect Blue - Here's an anime movie that does have a Blu-ray in Japan. Why hasn't it been issued here? I'm pretty sure Manga’s license expired and unfortunately no other company has picked up the rights. I hope one does soon.

Pokémon movies – Yeah I don't see this happening anytime soon. FWIW the fourth through seventh Pokémon are now being distributed by Echo Bridge Entertainment. They might willing to put them out on Blu-ray. I wouldn't hold my breath though.

Now let’s add some more films to the wishlist: Rumble in the Bronx, Jaws, Jackie Brown, Hackers, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers The Movie, Dick Tracy, Airplane!, The Blues Brothers, Castle of Cagliostro and Millennium Actress. Let's see how lucky I get the second time around.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Nickelodeon Ninjas

The Wall Street Journal has an article about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series set to air on Nickelodeon in 2012. It can only be read by subscribers but some kind folks saved the image from the article.


The actual cartoon will be CG so I'm guessing this is just concept art. It looks alright. Michaelangelo is suitably wacky. His nunchucks have been replaced with a different weapon. This isn't the first time this has happened. Mikey had a grappling hook in the later episodes of the original toon and tonfas in the live action TV show. Apparently the illegality of nunchucks in certain areas even extends to their depiction in cartoons. In this pic it looks like Mikey is wielding a surujin, a chain with a weight on the ends. It actually seems more dangerous than nunchucks.

I know I wrote about an upcoming animated series based on a preview image just yesterday, so apologies for another one so soon. A Fistful of Suck: don't expect much variety.

Updated 3/11: Well that didn't take long for something more substantive to appear. There's a brief teaser trailer online. Seeing the turtles in their CG forms, they remind me of the Mirage designs.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Uncanny Anime

Marvel and anime studio Madhouse have been producing series based on Marvel's characters. Iron Man has already aired in Japan and Wolverine is in the middle of its broadcast. The next series will be X-Men and Blade. Eventually they'll be airing on G4 in the U.S. which doesn't do me any good since my provider dropped G4.


The promotional campaign has already started for X-Men which premieres April 1st in Japan. It looks like the team will consist of Professor X, Cyclops, Beast, Storm, Wolverine and most interestingly Armor. That's a pretty clever of them to use her. They can try to appeal more to the Japanese viewers while still staying true to the comics, and put a character in the spotlight who hasn't been done to death. They easily could have used Sunfire instead and it would work just as well, but anime runs on bishoujo.

I'm excited for this one, moreso than the other Marvel anime. I like the X-Men. I liked Wolverine first, since before I could remember. There's something intrinsic about the character that appeals to kids. But when I learned there were a group of heroes that Wolverine pals around with, I latched on to them as well. I read the comics but they passed the point of accessibility before I discovered them, probably before I could even read. But the X-Men seem to work as a television format. I ended up liking X-Men Evolution and Wolverine and the X-Men and my memories of the Fox Kids toon are better than the other Marvel '90s cartoons. I hope this new series follows suit.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Smarch

  • The 3D version of Star Wars Episode I will be released to theaters on February 10th, 2012. I wasn't expecting it to come out in less than a year, but I thought about it and it makes sense. It's probably wise to release it in the typically slow month of February. Just the fact that it's a re-release of a thirteen year old movie sort of limits it's box office potential. That it's also the least popular Star Wars movie won't help either. I might check it out. I don't think I've watched in full since 2000.

  • And on a related note the packaging design for next year's Star Wars products has been revealed. It's clearly Episode I focused, featuring a grimacing Darth Maul. However the blue logo on white background is more reminiscent of The Clone Wars packaging. It'll be odd to see an image of Darth Maul used for The Clone Wars line. Then again it could be a perfect fit if what the end of "Witches of the Mist" implies actually pans out.

  • Here's the trailer for the upcoming Tron Uprising animated series. The series is set between the events of the two Tron movies. It debuts next year on Disney XD.

  • And here's another animated trailer. This one is for the new Thundercats series. Looks like a lot of action taking place on Thundera. Will they even go to Third Earth in the new series? Or am I being duped by clever editing? The new Wily Kit, Wily Kat and Snarf are much cuter.

  • We got a pretty good, if brief, look at the Red Skull in the Super Bowl ad for Captain America: The First Avenger. But Entertainment Weekly has the first official picture of Hugo Weaving as Red Skull. He looks pretty much perfect. I think Weaving in this role could end up being the highlight of the movie.

  • The second G.I. Joe movie will arrive on August 10th 2012, from the writers of Zombieland (Sweet) and the director of Never Say Never (Yikes). Although no officially confirmed, Rachel Nichols says the only ones returning will be Duke, Snake Eyes, and Storm Shadow. I don't know if that actually refers to the characters or the actors who played them: Channing Tatum, Ray Park and Byung-hun Lee respectively. I don't see the point in making the movie without the main villains. Both Cobra Commander and Destro could easily be recast, though I'll miss Joseph Gordon Levitt as the former. I'm not attached to any of the other actors, yet I do admire that Nichols is eager to reprise her role as Scarlett. I hope she gets her chance.