Shenmue is Back (Again!) and Coming to a Small Screen Near You

The announcement comes after the release of Shenmue 3 only last year, which is unprecedented in of itself given the 18-year gap between Shenmue 2 and Shenmue 3.

Shenmue, Yu Suzuki’s revenge-driven, slow-burn saga that oddly encourages capsule toy and gambling addictions, is getting an anime adaption, courtesy of Crunchyroll and Adult Swim.

For Shenmue, this new production will only serve to boost a franchise popular both yesterday and today. The first Shenmue was released in 1999 for the short-lived but excellent Sega Dreamcast console, as did its sequel two years later. The demise of the Dreamcast, as well as Yu Suzuki’s departure from developer AM2 years later, meant the future of the franchise was up in the air since 2001. The successful Shenmue 3 Kickstarter campaign began back in 2015, the highest-funded video game project in its 11-year history, and was released in November last year.

The series tells the tale of teenager Ryo Hazuki, who, after witnessing his father’s murder at the hands on Lan Di, wishes to avenge his father’s death. It is an 1980’s-set journey that traverses the Far East, from Yokasuka in Japan, through Hong Kong and Guilin in China. Shenmue served as an open-world schematic for many video games that followed, and continues to do so to this day. The enveloped environments, including a day and night system, interaction with NPC (Non-Playable-Characters), daily schedules and free reign to explore at will, brought a living, breathing world at your fingertips.

This unprecedented animated project comes with series creator Yu Suzuki serving as executive producer, with One Punch Man’s Chikara Sakurai in the directing hot seat. The planned 13-episode series will be produced by Telecom Animation Film, responsible for the latest Lupin the Third series. The announcement comes after the release of Shenmue 3 only last year, which is unprecedented in of itself given the 18-year gap between Shenmue 2 and Shenmue 3. The announcement came out of Crunchyroll’s Crunchyroll Expo (CRX), which took place September 4-6. This will be the third collaboration between Crunchyroll and Adult Swim, following the announcements of both Blade Runner Black Lotus and Fena: Pirate Princess.

What are your thoughts on this one? To be honest, if there are forklifts, I am so on board with this.

DC Goes Interactive With Batman: Death in the Family

“Will you choose whether Jason Todd lives or dies? How will these choices affect Batman and the Joker? One thing for certain – It’s going to be a lot of fun finding out.”

Over 30 years ago DC Comics fans were given the remarkable chance to choose the fate of one Jason Todd as Robin. The question was simple: should he live, or die? After the votes of thousands of fans they incredibly chose for Jason to die. In turn, creating comic book history in the process.

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is about to give us all the opportunity to answer a new question: if you had the chance to do it again, would you make the same choice? This time, there is no old-school hotline to call, or any online forms. Instead you can make the choice just by clicking your Blu-ray remote.

From the DC Comics announcement page:-

Produced by DC and Warner Bros. Animation, DC Showcase – Batman: Death in the Family is an anthology of 2019-2020 animated shorts anchored by a new, extended-length short that adapts the iconic Batman: A Death in the Family comic book storyline by Jim Starlin and Jim Aparo. However, in a fitting twist, the Batman: Death in the Family short will take an interactive approach—a Warner Bros. Home Entertainment first—and offer viewers the opportunity to choose which direction the story goes by making choices using their remote control. As if that isn’t fascinating enough, this take on the classic storyline also boasts some intriguing connections to the popular 2010 DC Universe Movie, Batman: Under the Red Hood.

Batman: Death in the Family comes from director Brandon Vietti, who also directed Batman: Under the Red Hood, which also celebrated its tenth anniversary last week. Bruce Greenwood, Vincent Martella and John DiMaggio will reprise their Batman: Under the Red Hood roles of Batman, young Jason Todd and the Joker, respectively. Bruce Greenwood’s performance as the Joker 10 years ago alone will spark interest in this role reprisal.

“Batman: Death in the Family is essentially a comic book come to life,” Vietti says. “We’ve paid homage to the 1988 interactive experience of DC’s A Death in the Family comics release by giving fans a unique opportunity to craft their own story through a branching tool that can lead in multiple directions. The viewer gets to choose these characters’ paths, and each choice paves an alternate future for all of the characters and, ultimately, the story.”

DC has presented its viewers with a real opportunity here. An opportunity to re-write a piece of history. And furthermore, to write new futures. Multiple endings, twists and turns, or simply the opportunity to play out the original story if you wish, are all on offer here.

But that’s not all on offer. Batman: Death in the Family is but one of five shorts. Although not interactive, the other four shorts are as follows:-

  • Sgt. Rock (below), originally attached to Batman: Hush, directed by Bruce Timm. Karl Urban (Star Trek, The Boys and Dredd 3D) provides the voice of the titular character who thinks he has seen everything on the battlefield. But now he is tasked to lead a company consisting of legendary monsters into battle against – what else – Nazi zombies.
  • Death, inspired by Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, is produced and directed by Sam Liu (Superman: Red Son, The Death of Superman). It tells the story of Vincent, an artist with unresolved inner demons, who meets a mysterious girl that helps him come to terms with his creative legacy…and eventual death. Death was originally included with Wonder Woman: Bloodlines.
  • The Phantom Stranger has Bruce Timm (Batman: The Killing Joke) on board as executive producer and director, and was included on the release of Superman: Red Son. This one is set in the 1970s, as the enigmatic DC mystery man simultaneously playing both narrator and character in a supernatural story of good vs. evil.
  • Adam Strange, an original story attached to Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, is produced and directed by Butch Lukic (Superman: Man of Tomorrow). It tells the origins of Adam Strange, played out in flashbacks, as he struggles to save the very people who have scorned him for so long as the local town drunk.

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DC Showcase – Batman: Death in the Family will be available on both Blu-ray and Digital from October 13, 2020. If you want the interactive experience of Batman: Death in the Family, you’ll need to buy the Blu-ray edition. The digital edition features the Batman: Death in the Family extended-length, non-interactive version of the story. Three other non-interactive versions of the main short (entitled Jason Todd’s RebellionRobin’s Revenge and Red Hood’s Reckoning) should be included as bonus features, along with the other four 2019-2020 DC Showcase shorts.

With DC Showcase – Batman: Death in the Family, DC have invited us to make a choice. Will you choose whether Jason Todd lives or dies? How will these choices affect Batman and the Joker? One thing for certain – It’s going to be a lot of fun finding out.

DC Showcase – Batman: Death in the Family will be available on both Blu-ray and Digital starting on October 13, 2020.

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Studio Ghibli movies coming to Netflix UK from February

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From next month, Netflix will show 21 feature films from Studio Ghibli in the UK for the first time. What better time to sample some of the best animation, along with accompanying scores, the world has to offer.

With Netflix’s acquisition, the movies will also be available to watch across Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and the Americas. Previously, Studio Ghibli had declined to offer digital versions of its content in any capacity. However in the US recently, Ghibli made downloadable copies available for sale.

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The movies will be subtitled in 28 languages as well as producing new dubs, which will no doubt be the main source of scrutiny.  The first wave of releases drop on February 1st. That means greats such as Castle in the SkyMy Neighbor TotoroKiki’s Delivery Service and Porco Rosso will reach Netflix UK’s estimated 9.5 million subscribers.

Further to that, on March 1st, more classics will be added, including Nausicaä of the Valley of the WindPrincess Mononoke, and personal favourite Spirited Away. And again, on April 1st, Whisper of the Heart, Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo, The Wind Rises, and others, also drop. That’s no April fool. What a time to be alive.

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Fans of Grave of the Fireflies will despair however, with publishing rights currently residing away from Studio Ghibli. But that is nevertheless only a minor downer in contrast to the quality on the way. For me, I’m very much looking forward to educating my 7 year old daughter on Ghibli’s gorgeous, glorious greatness.

Full list of what to expect and when :-

February 1st

Castle In The Sky

My Neighbour Totoro

Kiki’s Delivery Service

Only Yesterday

Porco Rosso

Ocean Waves

Tales From Earthsea

 

March 1st

Nausicaa Of The Valley Of The Wind

Princess Mononoke

My Neighbours The Yamadas

Spirited Away

The Cat Returns

Arrietty

The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya

 

April 1st

Pom Poko

Whisper Of The Heart

Howl’s Moving Castle

Ponyo

From Up On Poppy Hill

The Wind Rises

When Marnie Was There

Which Studio Ghibli movie is your favourite? Which will you watch first?

Akira is Making a Comeback, Let’s Fall in Love With it All Over Again

The anime behemoth is back – in more ways than one

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This past weekend at Anime Expo 2019, legendary manga creator Katsuhiro Otomo announced a new anime project, namely an adaption of his Akira manga. Sunrise, one of Japan’s biggest animation studios, creators of classics such as Cowboy Bebop, Mobile Suit Gundam and even non-Japanese productions Inspector Gadget (i miss that) and Batman: The Animated Series, will produce. Sunrise CEO Makoto Asanuma confirmed the intention of incorporating the entire story of the manga. So yeah, pretty huge news.

And if that news alone wasn’t huge enough for you, well how about this: The original 1988 movie will receive a 4K remaster in both Japan and the US. Hopefully a UK version will follow also, with Akira still serving as one of Manga UK’s key licenses.

Otomo’s original sci-fi action manga ran for 8 years in Kodansha’s Weekly Young Magazine, from 1982 to 1990. It is set in Neo-Tokyo, a city that has been rebuilt following a mysterious explosion. The movie, directed by Otomo, created an explosion of its own in the west back in the early 1990’s. It is still considered by many, me included, to be the benchmark is Japanese animation. Its hard to argue this point, despite many other glowing examples in the last 30 years.

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After paving the way for anime into the mainstream, Akira also helped launch Manga Mania, a UK-based anime/manga magazine from Dark Horse Comics. The western translation became its premiere manga strip, with 100 pages each month. The magazine’s decline is often attributed to the end of the strip in issue 38. Akira’s 6-volume run is always in circulation across the globe, and remains one of the most successful and influential manga ever created.

As for the movie, a 4K edition is most welcome, and certainly deserving. Of all the Japanese anime works in the world, especially one that is over 30 years old, there are few that look better, even today. It wasn’t the most expensive anime film of its time (1.1 billion yen) for nothing. It has already undergone remaster treatment for both DVD in 2001 (as well as the alternative English dub track) and more recently Blu-Ray, featuring a Japanese Dolby TrueHD 192 kHz remaster. Definitely plenty to look forward to from a 4K version.

As for the manga adaption, if it indeed is produced as a series, don’t expect the same lavish production. Although I’ve little doubt that if Otomo is involved, it will need to be some form of standard-setter. His 2004 effort Steamboy is still the most expensive anime ever produced, standing at 2.4 billion yen, and was in production for 10 years. It’ll be interesting to see how the creative style stays true to his manga. Although the 1988 movie does not follow the original manga (it was still being produced by Otomo while he was making the movie), the style remained very true to the original.

So after 31 years, Akira has once again come to the forefront of Japanese animation across the world. I will of course remain sceptical of the planned Warner Bros Taika Waititi Hollywood effort. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go watch and read Akira all over again.

Buy Akira on Blu-Ray here

Buy the Akira manga here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Neon Genesis Evangelion is Now Streaming on Netflix, and You Really Should Watch It

“But Evangelion is far more than just a typical “Mecha” series. If anything, it is a total deconstruction of the genre”

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What a time to be alive. For a number of years now, particularly in the UK, availability of anime from the 80’s and 90’s has been at a premium. The founding flourishing anime market that exploded thanks to Manga Video, ADV Films and others, has seen many Anime licenses come and indeed, go. In the case of Neon Genesis Evangelion, it remains one of the few exceptions to that trend. And with good reason; Evangelion excels in almost every department. And thanks to Netflix, as of today, the franchise now has a new home.

Neon Genesis Evangelion was animated by studio GAINAX, which is also known for the superb Royal Space Force: Wings of Honneamise, as well as the surreal FLCL. Often described as an apocalyptic, psychological drama, Evangelion depicts how teenager Shinji Ikari’s life is changed completely after he is summoned by his estranged father, Gendo, and pressured to pilot a secret paramilitary robot suit, known as an Eva. Gendo’s organisation, NERV, is the world’s last defence against giant monster-like beings called Angels.

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But Evangelion is far more than just a typical “Mecha” series. If anything, it is a total deconstruction of the genre. Shinji must learn to cope with his father who had previously abandoned him, saving the world, and growing up. He is desperate for acceptance in a world where he feels abandoned and alone. Eva’s can only be piloted by children,  and fellow pilots Asuka and Rei have their own emotional issues also, and must learn to cope with the pressures of piloting together. It’s a psychological cocktail that also boasts several fantastic action sequences.

The series is the definitive entry point for the franchise. In mid to late 90’s UK, where the anime scene was growing but still in its infancy, Evangelion was significant as part of that growth. In Japan however, Evangelion erupted the genre from a slump and quickly became a social phenomenon and new guiding light.

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The series’ production wasn’t without its own controversies, however. Rumours of production and budget issues at Gainax led to some visible decay in editing. Since that time it has been attributed more to director Hideake Anno’s creative process and changes. The final 2 episodes in particular polarised fans the world over, and shook the anime world at the time.

Ultimately, this led to the creation of 2 Evangelion movies; Death (True)2, an alternative, condensed cut of the series, and End of Evangelion, an alternative ending movie, just 2 years later. End of Evangelion has garnered its own deserved and widespread critical acclaim.

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The Netflix streams feature the original Japanese audio, plus a brand new English dub. This dub replaces the English dub used for the original ADV Films release and Manga Entertainment releases of the TV series and films, respectively. There are also multiple subtitle options available.

Having reached episode 5 at the time of writing, the high-definition remaster is very impressive, as is the new English dub. The original soundtrack is intact and sounds better than ever. With the first chords of its brilliant theme song I was immediately taken back to my college youth, collecting the 2-episode length VHS tapes every few weeks at a time when DVD was barely a reality.

Also At the time writing, these Netflix Evangelion anime titles are currently not available for home release as the licenses from ADV Films (TV series) and Manga Entertainment (Films) have since expired. More recently Hideako Anno has been working on the Rebuild of Evangelion films. The first movie starts with a remake of the first six episodes, with 3 subsequent movies taking an entirely new direction. The first 3 films are currently available on DVD/Blu-Ray, entitled 1.0 You Are (not) Alone2.0 You Can (Not) Advance, and 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo. The fourth and final film Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 is scheduled for release in Japan next year.

Netflix pages for each Evangelion entry:-

Neon Genesis Evangelion

Evangelion: Death(true)2

The End of Evangelion

Neon Genesis Evangelion is a tremendous feat in animation, drama and action. It serves as one of the glowing examples of the anime genre, and has been instrumental in growing its fan base across the world. And now, almost 25 years on, thanks to Netflix, its bound to grow even more.

 

 

 

 

Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered Announced For PS4, XBOX ONE, SWITCH and PC – Mass Hysteria!

Mad Dog Games and developer Saber Interactive have announced Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC via the Epic Games Store. It is due to launch in 2019.

Ghostbusters: The Video Game Remastered delivers a unique story from franchise creators Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis. Billed as the spiritual sequel to Ghostbusters 2,  Ghostbusters: The Video Game captures the comedic fun and fright the franchise is beloved for. This remastered release coincides with the 35th anniversary of Ghostbusters this year.

You play a new rookie on the Ghostbusters team, teaming up with characters from the films, which reunites the voices of Aykroyd, Ramis, Bill Murray, and Ernie Hudson as Stantz, Spengler, Venkman and Zeddemore. Alongside them are Annie Potts (Janine Melnitz), Brian Doyle-Murray (Psychiatrist in GB 2), William Atherton (Walter Peck), and Max von Sydow as the voice of Vigo the Carpathian.

With Manhattan being overrun once more by ghosts, demons, and other paranormal creatures unleashed by a mysterious force, the Ghostbusters must save the day. Only they can drive this evil back to whence it came.

The third-person viewpoint makes for hunting, zapping and trapping a variety of new and familiar ghouls and phantasms. Cool tools such as the Paragoggles and P.K.E Meter are also on hand to can and analyse spooks and demons. Then its time to strap on the Proton Pack to capture your foes in the Proton beam, ready for trapping. Enemies push and pull for freedom within the entrapment of the Proton Beam, and it is your job to force them into submission and into the Ghost Traps.

Ghostbusters: The Video Game was originally a multi-format release 10 years ago. The Xbox 360/PS3 version is the one remastered here, with life-like animated visuals of Peter Venkman and company, and a great script too. If sources are to be believed, Bill Murray was championed with ensuring that all the cast members got an equal share of screen time.

After just a few minutes in, it is apparent that Ghostbusters: The Video Game is a heartfelt piece of Ghostbusters canon straight from the creators. This very welcome remaster will serve as an excellent addition to the catalogues of the current console generation.

 

 

Donnie Yen’s Ip Man 4 Instagram Reveal

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The production of Donnie Yen’s latest upcoming flick, Ip Man 4, was revealed some months back now. Now fans, like me, eagerly await details of its impending release since production wrapped up in July last year. Thanks to the series’ star, Donnie Yen, with a clever use of the latest social media craze, one of Ip Man 4’s first images has been revealed.

What latest social media craze you say, given there are so many? The 10 year challenge. Simply post 2 photos of yourself, 10 years apart. And while that provides many friends, families and social groups to reveal their changes over the years, it is of course the celebrity stars that have caught the eye the most. And Donnie’s is no exception, as you can see below.

Fans of the the Ip Man series will need little explanation of the above. But for the uninitiated, the Ip Man series stars Donnie Yen as the eponymous Grandmaster of Wing Chun. Although most recognised as movie legend Bruce Lee’s Wing Chun teacher, Ip held the rank of Grandmaster during his lifetime. This series, along with other Hong Kong movies based around him, have helped raise the popularity of the teachings of Wing Chun, as well as Chinese culture in general.

The top image is from the first sequel in the series, Ip Man 2. The shot itself is taken from Ip Man’s “trial” fight against Hung-Chun-Nam (portrayed by the movie’s action choreographer, Sammo Hung), where Ip must prove his worth to carry on teaching Wing Chun in Hong Kong. The scene, with both fighters confined to battle atop a tea room table, is one of many memorable fight sequences. The movie won the best action choreography award at the 2011 Hong Kong Movie awards.

Fast forward ten years, and Donnie’s next image looks to come directly from the latest in the series. It captures the reflective stance Donnie has mastered during his time in the role, in a wonderful black and white crowd shot.

The hashtag #areyouready is certainly appropriate; I am more than ready, and cannot wait for this one.

Ip Man 4 will release sometime in 2019, and is directed by Wilson Yip.

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SEGA Reveals New Team Sonic Racing Trailer

The Sonic the Hedgehog gauntlet continues

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Sonic the Hedgehog is back. Back again. And this time he’s taking a back front seat from all that running, back into his racing car. This week, Sega released a teaser trailer for the Sumo Digital-developed racer.

Entitled Team Sonic Racing, it promises to combine the best elements of arcade and competitive style racing, at a fast pace. 12 characters from across the Sonic Universe will be available both solo and online. So far Sonic, Shadow and Tails have been confirmed as characters. Multiple game modes, such as Grand Prix, Time Trial and Team Adventure are also confirmed. More interesting however are the team mechanics, such as Item Transfer or Slingshot, that can be used to assist racing teammates. There will also be vehicle customisation.

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Don’t expect any characters outside of the Sonic Universe, as was the case with 2010’s Sega All-Stars Racing and its 2012 sequel. This is purely Team Sonic. I find this a little disappointing, given the variety of the cast in All-Star Racing. Plus racing as Ryo Hazuki on a forklift was hilarious. It could however prove to be a good platform for fans to become more familiarised with supporting characters, a consistent weak spot for Sonic over the years. There have been far too many over the years, and few remain stable.

The tracks in the trailer look to be a similar style to the All-Star Racing games of last gen. The upside-down arched roads naturally have that Mario Kart look to them. With Sonic Mania Plus due very soon, and Team Sonic Racing set for late 2018, Sonic really is back. No one has come close to emulating Nintendo’s runaway success with Mario Kart. But now, Sonic Team Racing at least looks to be a decent alternative.

Check out the trailer below, and let me know what you think!