Rescue Me, Rightstuf!

hisui_icon_4040 The phoenix has risen from the ashes that was Bandai Entertainment! When the U.S. release of Turn A Gundam was canceled in January of 2012 it was SO CLOSE to coming out that you could practically reach out a hold the disks in your hands. They even had trailers for the show and I have heard stories that people had gotten review copies. But then Bandai Entertainment closed up shop in the US. It seemed like Turn A Gundam was doomed to be one of the few Gundam series that was not officially released in English. I have to say that was a sad scenario as Turn A is not only my favorite Gundam series but also one of my favorite anime in general.

But that is no longer the case. You can order Turn A Gundam from the RightStuf on DVD. Best of all it is coming out for a reasonable price to boot. (Side Note: If you are complaining that Turn A Gundam is not on Blu-ray and are going to throw a fit on the Internet because of that then you’re not allowed to be part of my law firm.)

But this is not (just) a commercial for the DVD release. This title being pulled from the fire reminded me that there are several other titles I would love to see put back into print. They might have gotten a decent run in English at one point in time but these shows either were never finished or have become rather rare since they were released. These are all titles I would love to see the Right Stuf or a similar anime distributor pick up.

All these titles are series that we enjoy so while there might be one or two series that would do smarter to pick up they are not going to be on this list. This is a list of love and not one of accounting. Also the series had to have some sort of release in the United States. We would all like to officially watch Legend of the Galactic Heroes but it cannot be on this list.

narutaki_icon_4040 I pretty much get excited when ever NIS, Discotek, or Right Stuf have an anime announcement to make. Not everything is to my taste, how could it be, but all these companies still put a smile on my face. Right Stuf is kind of like if Discotek and NIS had a baby. Right Stuf tends to release older or smaller titles but with nice packaging and extras.

With Right Stuf’s team-up with Bandai, it got us thinking of what we’d like to see rescued from the backcatalog elsewhere. There is plenty of nostalgia on this list, but we’ve tried to be fair!

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Manga of the Month: Master Keaton

Master Keaton (MASTERキートン)
by Naoki UrasawaHokusei Katsushika, and Takashi Nagasaki

hisui_icon_4040 Master Keaton definitely has an interesting history in the United States. I’m sure there were fans of Naoki Urasawa before 2003 but Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl never had anywhere near the success of its sister anime Ranma ½ in the English-speaking fandom and all the fans of Pineapple Army could probably fit in one room. So when the Master Keaton anime was released by Geneon on June 10, 2003 it hardly had any name cache. The series was a critical darling but a financial flop. Despite that the anime garnered itself a small but devoted following. Then jump ahead to February 21, 2006 when the Monster manga is released. That was the title that made Naoki Urasawa a name in otaku circles. 20th Century Boys and Pluto only solidified his reputation. So that small fandom for Master Keaton finally had hope that maybe the manga that spawned the series they loved might be released in English. But that was not meant to be.

Apparently the title was tied up in a legal battle between Naoki Urasawa and Hokusei Katsushika’s estate. The battle was fierce enough that not only could the title not be licensed in the US but they could not even reprint the series in Japan. So it seemed like a series that would always just be out of reach. Then in March of 2012 Naoki Urasawa started Master Keaton Remaster, a sequel to the original series, as sort of capstone to the end of the legal battle that had engulfed Master Keaton. It seemed that there was hope again and on Viz licensed Master Keaton. So after that long journey December 16, 2014 marked the day fans could finally buy Master Keaton. I have talked about the series several times on the blog but now I can official endorse it as a series that you can just order on-line and buy.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #224

narutaki_icon_4040 Hey everyone, did you know that the Axe Cop cartoon is now on? I have been looking forward to this ever since it was teased. With eps. 1-2 you get a great sampling of what you’re in for if for some inexplicable reason you have never read the comic.

The opening of the show gives you a very quick rundown of how Axe Cop became Axe Cop, a perfectly necessary thing to do. What elevates it is the kid narrating, who may very well be writer Ethan Nicolle, giving just the right amount of gravitas to the premise. So already each and every episode starts off on the right foot.

Axe Cop’s voice is perfect and the delivery of the absurd dialogue is spot on. The animators capture the world of Axe Cop quite well and they have a good idea for funny background details.

The stories so far are an amalgam of what has been in the comic but put together in different ways to create semi-new insane tales with different interactions and jokes. Flute Cop’s role comes off as the most changed as he is a straight man to the wackiness often times. I hope that he turns into Dinosaur Soldier in an upcoming episode.

This show is a perfect fit for Fox’s animation block.

hisui_icon_4040 If there is one thing you cannot accuse Axe Cop of it is a slavish devotion to the conventional narrative structures we all know. I mean there is some semblance of your standard plot. It is not Ulysses or Gravity’s Rainbow here. (Somewhere a literature major threw up inside their mouth when I put Axe Cop in the same paragraph as those two books. But they are a literature major … so no one cares.) It is just a show that hops from plot point to plot point with an extremely stream of consciousness sense of progression.

That actually makes sense since Axe Cop in the creation of the adult Ethan Nicolle, who does the art, and his young son who is the writer. Is it theoretically about a cop who has an axe that fights crime. It is actually about the strange adventures of testosterone laden Gary Stu who goes around being a man’s man in a way that would make Brock Samson and Golgo 13 look like the forgotten members of the Golden Girls. That means he kills zombies, ninjas, dinosaurs, and the King of all Bad Guys with extreme violence and kid logic.

And that is the selling point of the series. When Bat Warthog Man’s friends are all eaten by the King of All Bad Guys it is up to Axe Cop to assemble a team so he can blow a horn inside the huge villains head. This lets dinosaurs can eat the villain’s brain. Mr T, a dinosaur rental store, scatological humor, and giant chicken bodied generalissimos get involved along the way. And that is the first episode. The second episode has super intelligent poop as a villain. Also we learn that Axe Cop is too cool to defecate like normal people.

I think the real question comes down to  how does this compare to the original comic. The original comic just feels tighter. Things just HAPPEN. But since it is all centered around one page stories so it just feels odd organic despite its almost absurdest nature. With 11 minutes to fill they try to keep that same vibe while centering everything around an actual plot structure. In a way that loses a bit of the original’s charm. Not enough to kill the momentum but enough to make one a clear winner.

Also at 11 minute half episodes this still works but if they take these plots and try to make them half an hour episodes they are just going to meander most of the time. Maybe two 11 minute half episodes in each episode would work but full episodes would stretch the premise too thin. Also something makes me roll my eyes at the thought of Axe Cop episodes trying to have B plots.

Also despite what Naruatki says the real reasons she likes this so much is because they often involve dinosaurs in the comic. It really makes you think how badly Terra Nova had to botch things up for her not to like that series.

The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching and reading outside of our main posts on the blog. We each pick three things that we were interested in a week and talk a bit about them. There is often not much rhyme or reason to what we pick. They are just the most interesting things we saw since the last Ongoing Investigation.

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