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Published by VegettoEX
18 May 2001, 9:28 PM EDTComments Off

Friend of the website Kuririn321 wrote us in with another heads-up on a strange Suncoast listing: something called “DragonBall Z: Our Hero Awakes” (sic).

As Kuririn321 says, this is the title of a FUNimation English dub episode, and the listing says it is a short 20 minutes long. What is most odd is that not only is the listing for a price of $11.13, but there is also an option for “VHS Spanish”. We are not quite sure what this mystery listing is, but when we find out, we will let you know!

Published by VegettoEX
11 May 2001, 10:34 PM EDTComments Off

Thanks go out to visitor WuFEi for pointing us to FUNimation’s dragonballz.com website that contains a few tidbits about upcoming releases:

The “Z Warriors Prepare” DVD will contain all three episodes found on the previously-released “Trunks: Prelude to Terror” disc. However, the episodes on the “Z Warriors Prepare” disc will be corrected versions — the previous release had several defects (a subtitle at the top of the screen in one scene, repeated dialog in certain subtitles, and a few instances of timing being off in subtitles). This means the disc will contain five episodes in total; the last two of these five episodes were previously available on the Burger King exclusive “Z Warriors Prepare” VHS release.

The “Garlic Jr: Black Water Mist” DVD has been delayed.

17 July 2001 brings us the beginning of simultaneous VHS/DVD releases with both “World Tournament: Blackout” and “World Tournament: The Draw” hitting store shelves.

Finally, the second release of the original DragonBall TV series has been announced (“Tournament – Turtle Hermit”), and will be released on VHS on 19 June 2001.

Published by VegettoEX
04 April 2001, 9:18 PM EDTComments Off

FUNimation’s official DragonBall Z site has updated the FAQ once again with incredible information: their continued dub of the original DragonBall TV series will use the original Japanese musical score!

Q: What are future plans for Dragon Ball?
A: Dragon Ball will begin airing on Cartoon Network June 4. Dragon Ball will run in time slot immediately after Dragon Ball Z, at 5:30pm Eastern Standard Time. The first 28 episodes of DB will air through the month of June. These episodes will contain the original music from the Japanese series. This is going to be a blast, so be sure to tune in.

This has somewhat been hinted at throughout the past with FUNimation, as they have used the original Japanese score in both DB movies two and three (“Sleeping Princess in Devil’s Castle” and “Mystical Adventure,” respectively). This is a wonderful step up for FUNimation. What is even greater is that the DB and DBZ scores were both composed by Shunsuke Kikuchi, so we will finally hear the composer’s work in North America for the DB TV series!

Published by VegettoEX
26 March 2001, 10:02 PM EDTComments Off

According to Suncoast’s latest listings, the “Frieza: The Summoning” disc is due out on 10 April 2001, but we also have another three discs announced! The last two in the series of four “Androids” DVDs (“Assassins” and “Invincible”) are due out on 03 April 2001, and the first Garlic Jr. disc (“Black Water Mist”) is due out on 06 April 2001. Additionally, as we all know by now, FUNimation has announced that starting with the “World Tournament: Junior Division” release, we will see simultaneous VHS/DVD releases. Excellent!

On a related note, on suncoast.com’s top selling DVD list, the DBZ discs have been moving up since we last checked. “Androids – Invasion” is up to #5, with “Androids – Dr. Gero” following at #8. The only anime disc above DBZ in the top list is the third “Outlaw Star” collection (which is number one). Way to go!

Published by VegettoEX
19 January 2001, 3:30 PM EDTComments Off

Having problems playing some of your DragonBall Z DVDs from FUNimation? According to e-mails and posts by many fans out there, you are not alone. Phillips Magnavox players are confirmed to spit the discs back out after being unable to read them, while visitors are reporting that Oritron models run the gamut from playing poorly to simply not working at all.

Published by VegettoEX
18 January 2001, 1:48 PM EDTComments Off

As further confirmed by Planet Namek and re-posted by Anime Nation, FUNimation’s DVD release of the third DragonBall movie (entitled “Mystical Adventure”) will indeed be “hybrid”, meaning it will include both the original Japanese language track as well as an English dub.

While we could not announce it ahead of time, a scan of the original Japanese lyrics for the movie’s closing theme (“DragonBall Densetsu”) was provided by us to Steven J. Simmons for accurate translation in the movie’s subtitle track.

Published by VegettoEX
02 January 2001, 12:45 AM EDTComments Off

Anime Fringe has posted their regular list of “must-visit” anime websites, and Daizenshuu EX (editor’s note: one of the two prior sites later incorporated into Kanzenshuu) has been placed in the #18 spot:

The second appearance of a DragonBall web site on this list gives us a site filled tons of original multimedia and information. It’s easy to see why this site is one of the best because it is updated virtually everyday with something new to download or read. There are even DragonBall reviews and editorials about anime as well as tons of other DragonBall oriented content that’s helpful for any fan to use.

Thanks go out to the Anime Fringe staff for the spotlight!

Published by VegettoEX
18 November 2000, 6:20 PM EDTComments Off

Suncoast lists the DVD of “The History of Trunks” as being released on 29 November 2000, while RightStuf lists the release date as 12 December 2000. We will let you know when we are able to confirm a release date with FUNimation.

Thanks to the folks on alt.fan.dragonball for noting these conflicting release dates.

Published by VegettoEX
15 October 2000, 12:00 PM EDTComments Off

Adding to the whole Ocean cast “thing” comes a reply from Ian James Corlett, the first voice of Goku in FUNimation’s English dub of DragonBall Z. We asked Ian if he had gotten any offers concerning recording new DragonBall Z episodes or movies — FUNimation seems to be saying that nothing is going on with Ocean, while Ocean says there is definitely stuff going on with them and the franchise. Corlett responded:

I heard of this. It’s a weird anomaly of distribution rights or something… I think IPP/Ocean sound has the Canadian rights to record shows, so it’s independent of Funimation. But alas I won’t be doing them if IPP has anything to do with the production.

This is certainly a strange situation; we have no idea why actors associated with Ocean would be recording anything for the series at this point.

Published by VegettoEX
27 August 2000, 8:30 PM EDTComments Off

The 26 August 2000 edition of the San Jose Mercury News ran an article about Viz, the translation of manga into English, and release concerns.

ENVISIONING A POP-CULTURE BRIDGE COMPANY SAYS ANIMATION IS KEY TO UNDERSTANDING JAPAN
MIKE ANTONUCCI, Mercury News

People once fretted that the world was becoming unified under an American framework of McDonald’s, Hollywood and Air Jordans. But the winds of trendiness now blow across the oceans in all directions, with none stronger than those swirling around the Pacific Rim.

And no enterprise defines pop culture’s internationalization better than Viz Communications, a Japanese-owned company in San Francisco.

Viz was created in 1986 as a tiny publisher for U.S. versions of Japanese comic books. “I thought I could contribute something as a bridge between the United States and Japan,” said Viz founder and president Seiji Horibuchi.

Today, the company is an elite center for the redesign and translation of Japanese entertainment. It features videotapes of dubbed and subtitled animation, news and anthology magazines, soundtrack CDs from TV series and video games, a slew of books and a warehouse of merchandise such as T-shirts and posters.

Just in recent years, the Japanese influence on U.S. life has ranged from the mania over Tamagotchis — “virtual pet” devices — to popular tattoos and logos of “kanji” writing symbols. At Viz (www.viz.com), the emphasis is on art and storytelling that vast numbers of Japanese adults embrace, but which traditionally have attracted only cult fans in the United States.

Viz’s ongoing target is consumers of all ages. Yet the company has soared in prominence because of licensing tie-ins with the kid-based Pokemon craze.

Revenues jumped tenfold last year to more than $100 million, said Horibuchi. He projects a leveling-off this year to $40 million — still huge compared with a few years ago.

Land of the rising profile

As dramatic as those figures are, they obscure Viz’s long-term goal of generating broad U.S. understanding and appreciation of all genres of Japanese comics and animation.

Even as the Pokemon phenomenon was going into overdrive last summer, it was easy for Viz employees to maintain perspective. Jaime Starling of the marketing department gave a series of library talks to children about anime and manga — Japanese animation and comics — and the kids’ reactions epitomized Viz’s cross-cultural challenges.

The young collectors in her audience, for instance, were stunned to hear that many Japanese throw away comics after reading them.

“One girl stared at me and said, ‘You lie,'” said Starling.

The ultimate payoff for Viz would be a much deeper blending of Japanese and U.S. cultures. American kids would grasp why Japan’s black-and-white comics are so disposable (it’s because the paper is cheap and quantities areenormous). If Americans could adjust, Viz wouldn’t have to reverse layouts on comics that read from right to left in Japan.

Still, the company has made obvious headway. Japan’s imprint, and Viz’s, has become increasingly prominent in any store with books, videos, comics, toys or games.

One of Viz’s newest efforts is a comic based on the “Gundam” space-battle stories. With luck, it will piggyback on the success of “Gundam Wing” on cable’s Cartoon Network, which carries a four-show “Toonami” lineup from 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays — programming that exemplifies Japanese animation’s growing U.S. prominence.

Gilles Poitras, author of “The Anime Companion,” says anime conventions seem to be drawing more middle-aged people in addition to kids, teens and college-age fans.

Viz staffers are highly conscious of the chance to capitalize on that expanding curiosity. “The trick, after Pokemon and all the other exposure, is to maintain the interest these things generated,” said Dallas Middaugh, Viz’s new senior marketing manager.

Shared eccentricities

Jeff Yang, co-author of a guide to the Asian impact on American life, suggests that Japan and the United States are surprisingly alike in profound but subtle ways.

“When Japanese people take off their external masks, they display an individuality and eccentricity that matches American eccentricity,” said Yang, who’s also publisher of A. Magazine. “That shows up in their fantasy life — in things like comics and animation.”

Viz’s Horibuchi, slim and soft-spoken, describes being “shocked” by his first encounter with U.S. pop culture: the taste of Coca-Cola when he was a boy in Japan. “I liked it so much,” he recalled.

Horibuchi, 48, responded with the same type of intense fascination when introduced to other American experiences over the years. Moving to the Bay Area in his 20s, he said he tended toward a “hippie” lifestyle, lacking any steady career direction.

He eventually met a young executive of a major Japanese publisher, Shogakukan, and they decided to create Viz as a foothold for their trans-Pacific vision. By the spring of 1987, Horibuchi and a skeletal staff had three comics ready for sale.

There are now 50 employees at the open-studio offices south of Market Street. Of late, Viz’s growth has been stoked by glitzier Japanese material that’s becoming almost mainstream U.S. entertainment.

More than anything else, that means Pokemon. Viz publishes Pokemon comics, helps market the video compilations of TV episodes and puts out specialty items that include Pokemon origami, paper masks and a sticker book.

Other high-profile content ranges from Dragon Ball Z comics and Sailor Moon soundtracks to movie-length animation such as “A Chinese Ghost Story.”

But Viz has stretched U.S. imaginations in more formidable ways, too. Niche titles have accrued loyal followings, seeding the market for increasingly diverse genres and wider American acceptance of black-and-white comics art.

Among the leading examples are the extensive sets of “Ranma 1/2” videos and trade paperbacks. It’s an action-comedy about a teenage martial artist who is transformed from a boy to a girl when splashed with cold water, then back again with hot water. It originated as comics and was adapted for animation.

A customer magnet

“Ranma was the meal ticket for a decade,” said Oliver Chin, the Viz sales director until recently joining a Redwood City Internet company.

Joe Field, owner of the Flying Colors Comics store in Concord, credits “Ranma 1/2” and other Viz publications for “bringing in people who don’t come to the store for any other reason.”

Ann Palmer, 43, is a Field customer who discovered “Ranma 1/2” through her 15-year-old niece.

“It delves into issues that American comics don’t deal with, such as sexual orientation and misadventures,” said Palmer, an office manager. “It’s a hoot.”

Viz’s material, said Field, offers a distinct alternative from the U.S. superhero comics aimed at adolescent boys. Viz buyers, he said, are often men, women and girls.

Even in the case of Pokemon, Viz publishes a lesser-known comic adaptation, “Magical Pokemon Journey,” that focuses on the adventures of a girl. It’s a reflection of the large girls manga market in Japan.

It’s not easy summarizing the rest of Viz’s products. Many are mature-rated videos and novelized comics, which have varying degrees of sex and violence. Others include art and reference books. The defining factor is the breadth of subjects and the serious literary aspirations.

The trade paperback comics, known as “graphic novels,” span politics and romance, crime and magic. Among the most sophisticated titles is “Eagle: The Making of an Asian-American President.” It’s a tale of politics and relationships, tracking the U.S. presidential campaign of a Japanese-American.

Viz is not the only U.S.-based anime and manga publisher, but the head-to-head competition among companies is tempered by a common desire to expand the overall American interest.

Horibuchi says his bridge-building efforts won’t be successful until that larger U.S. market has evolved.

“There’s still a cultural barrier to overcome,” he said. “But I think we have a chance.”

Thanks to Chibi-chan on alt.fan.dragonball for the heads-up!