Category Archives: CULTURE

Macross for all! Legendary anime’s Japanese rights holders finally settle dispute with Robotech

After decades of nebulous legal fights, Macross will finally be coming to the rest of the world!

“Giant robots” are one of anime’s most iconic, and culturally exportable, elements. Gundam and Evangelion enjoy massive popularity not just in their native Japan, but with anime fans around the world.

So it’s always been a sad sidenote that one of the greatest anime mecha franchises, Macross, hasn’t had any of its content released internationally for the past 26 years. This isn’t because the quality has dipped, though, or because of a lack of demand. It’s because of a decades-long legal fight over who controls the rights to the franchise, and in which territories. That dispute seems to have finally been settled, though, at least to the extent that the “immediate international distribution” of Macross is now allowed, as per a statement posted by Japanese rights holders Big West which says:

“This expansive agreement signed by [Big West and Harmony Gold] on March 1, 2021, ends two decades of disagreements and will allow Big West and Harmony Gold to chart a new path that will unlock the great potential of both the Macross and Robotech franchises worldwide. The landmark agreement immediately permits worldwide distribution of most of the Macross films and television sequels worldwide, and also confirms that Big West will not oppose the Japanese release of an anticipated upcoming live-action Robotech film. The agreement also recognizes Harmony Gold’s longstanding exclusive license with Tatsunoko for the use of the 41 Macross characters and mecha in the Robotech television series and related merchandise throughout the world excluding Japan. Moving forward, both parties will cooperate on distribution regarding future Macross and Robotech projects for the benefit of both franchises.”

▼ Macross Frontier is yet to be released in North America. Meanwhile in Japan its hero mecha, the VF-25 Messiah …continue reading


How many times has Golgo 13, manga’s greatest assassin, ever laughed? Let’s find out!

In 200 volumes, anime/manga sniper extraordinaire Duke Togo doesn’t laugh much, and when he does, he has some weird reasons.

Usually when we refer to a manga or anime as a “classic,” the connotation is that it’s over and done with. Golgo 13, though, is a major exception. Debuting all the way back in 1968, creator Takao Saito’s story about the world’s greatest assassin is still ongoing, and recently hit a major milestone with the release of its 200th collected volume, tying the Guinness World Record for most volumes in a single manga series.

▼ And since the series it’s tied with, Kochi Kame, only hit volume 200 as it concluded, the record will be Golgo’s alone before long.

Over the years, protagonist Golgo 13, a.k.a. Duke Togo, has but countless bullets into his targets, but today we’re counting up the instances of something that happens much less frequently than him carrying out a murder-for-hire contract by asking the question “How many times has Golgo 13 ever laughed?”

As you might expect, it’s a rare occurrence. Golgo 13 is, after all, so stoic that the closest thing he has to a catchphrase is dialogue boxes that read “…” to express his palpable silence (and sometimes even his though bubbles are just ellipses). So imagine our shock to discover that the first time Golgo laughs is in the very first chapter of the manga, titled “Operation Big Safe.”

▼ The first Golgo 13 collected volume (as per the SP Comics imprint numbering)

In …continue reading


Studio Ghibli producer makes bombshell anime revelations during online Q&A

Howl’s Moving Castle has a prequel? Why does Ghibli food look so good? Is Hayao Miyazaki a mummy’s boy? Toshio Suzuki spills all the tea.

One thing we love about Studio Ghibli is the work that goes on behind the scenes, and the ongoing bromance between two of the co-founders, producer Toshio Suzuki and director Hayao Miyazaki.

Following the sad passing of fellow co-founder Isao Takahata in 2018, the bond between Suzuki and Miyazaki has only grown stronger, and the synergy between the two is like Yin and Yang. The chatty and easygoing producer is always happy to represent the company in interviews while the more reserved director prefers to stay away from the limelight and concentrate on producing the work.

Suzuki’s strong, decades-long friendship with Miyazaki–and his working relationship as his producer–makes Suzuki the only person in the world who can reveal secrets about the director and his films without any fear of repercussions. So whenever Suzuki is scheduled to appear for an interview, Ghibli fans know to sit up and listen, and that’s what they did on Friday, when Studio Ghibli’s official Twitter account announced they would be holding a Q&A with the producer, to coincide with the television broadcast of Howl’s Moving Castle in NTV Tokyo’s “Friday Roadshow” movie slot that same evening.

The Q&A began with this image of Suzuki, holding a figurine of the Friday Roadshow character to his lips, with the message in Japanese reading: “I will answer”.


— スタジオジブリ STUDIO GHIBLI (@JP_GHIBLI) April 2, 2021

Answer he did, and while the discussion was focussed on Howl’s Moving Castle, other revelations came quick and fast, so let’s take a look at what was discussed below.

Q: “Why did you choose Takuya Kimura to voice the character of Howl?”
Suzuki: It was …continue reading


Anime industry group doesn’t want artists to rely on CG, releases free animator drills

Animator Assignment Collection covers “First Steps Towards understanding the Principles of Motion.”

“Modern animation is all done with CG, right?” isn’t an uncommon assumption, and it is true that computers are playing an increasingly large role in animation production. However, the Association of Japanese Animations (AJA) wants aspiring anime artist to avoid becoming entirely reliant on machines when creating art.

“In recent years, the number of anime in which CG models are used for characters is increasing, but hand-drawn art is still an important part of many productions. The job of animator is to provide artwork that meets the needs of the project. Animators, professionals of motion, have a vital occupation,” says the association, and in keeping with that belief, it’s recently released a series of animator art drills that it calls the Animator Assignment Collection.

Subtitled as “The First Steps Towards Understanding the Principles of Motion,” the assignment collection is offered as a free PDF download from the AJA on its website here, and divides its drills into four sections: Form, Physics, Movement, and Application. The drills, developed and selected by veteran animator/animation director Kazushige Yusa (whose credits include anime movies in the Touch and Street Fighter II franchises) with the backing of studios such as Sunrise, Bones, Studio 4°C, and Tezuka Productions, are accompanied by example solutions and explanations.

Many of the drills give you two pieces of artwork and ask you to draw in a number of intermediary steps, which would correspond to either in-between or key animation frames. The Assignment Collection also encourages artists to keep in mind what sort of action or mood the scene is trying to create. For example, this driving drill asks for two different in-between frames, …continue reading


Valentino sparks outrage with insincere apology for disrespecting Japanese culture in photo shoot

Model daughter of former SMAP member gets caught up in controversy involving shoes and kimono.

There are a lot of rules surrounding polite and respectful behaviour in Japan, particularly when it comes to traditional culture like kimono and everyday customs like removing your shoes when indoors.

Showing respect for these traditions is such an important part of Japanese culture that any departure from convention is likely to spark ire and disdain, so when luxury Italian fashion house Valentino released images showing a Japanese model walking on a kimono obi sash while wearing shoes, the Internet erupted in outrage.

The photo shoot, for the brand’s spring/summer 2021 Valentino Collezione Milano for Women collection in Japan, featured Japanese model Koki, the well-known daughter of Takuya Kimura, a former SMAP boy band member and one of the nation’s most famous stars.

▼ Takuya Kimura, or “Kimutaku” as he’s widely known, pictured on the left, with daughter Mitsuki (professionally known as “Koki”) on the right.

…continue reading


Kodansha promises worldwide prosecution of illegal uploaders of Attack on Titan

Warning posted in English and Japanese comes just days before manga’s series finale.

Some anime and manga series are all about maintaining the status quo, their whole appeal wrapped up in allowing fans to leisurely spend time with the settings and characters established in their earliest segments. That’s not the case for Attack on Titan, though, whose rollercoaster ride of mysteries, betrayals, and warfare is about to come to an end.

The final chapter of creator Hajime Isayama’s tale of fearless heroes and pantsless monsters is set to be published in the next issue of manga anthology Bessatsu Shonen Magazine. No matter how Attack on Titan’s conflicts resolve themselves, though, publisher Kodansha is making it very clear that its fight against manga pirates continues, and will be a worldwide one as well, as shown in a tweet from Shintaro Kawakubo, the Japanese editor for the Attack on Titan manga.

Regarding illegal upload and pre-release leakage of Attack on Titan.

We’ve begun to take legal actions against several accounts & individuals. We’ll take measures against illegal uploads of images & texts regardless of country.
Thank you for choosing our official products!

— 「進撃の巨人」担当編集者バック (@ShingekiKyojin) March 30, 2021

While Kawakubo doesn’t mention Attack on Titan’s final chapter specifically, the timing, coming just a little more than a week before the next Bessatsu Shonen Magazine issue’s street date, can’t be a mere coincidence. Of particular note is the assertation that Kodansha will pursue legal action against unauthorized uploads “regardless of country,” implying that the company is in no way willing to turn a blind eye to uploaders located in countries where the final chapter is yet to go on sale and/or local fans may object to the pricing and/or localization choices of the officially license version.

▼ The same statement was issued …continue reading


Part of the 21-million-view video for Evangelion theme “One Last Kiss” was filmed by a five-year-old.

It was sort of a foregone conclusion that Utada Hikaru’s “One Last Kiss” was going to be a hit. A brand-new song from an undeniable top-tier A-lister of the J-pop world, which is also the ending theme for the final Evangelion movie, is destined to to get plenty of attention, and Utada’s melancholy yet comforting vocals make for an unforgettable listening experience.

But even still, it’s amazing to see just how popular the “One Last Kiss’” music video is, racking up over 21 million views since its release three weeks ago. It’s not some lavish, big-budget video with fancy sets, elaborate costumes, or hordes of background performers, either. The real appeal is the intimate atmosphere as the camera shows Utada in scenes of ordinary life, with the shots of her at home feeling especially personal.

And it turns out there’s a reason for that, because the person filming some of those at-home scenes was none other than her five-year-old son.

Utada herself revealed the familial assistance in a recent tweet.


— 宇多田ヒカル (@utadahikaru) March 28, 2021

“It makes me shudder knowing that video I had my son record on an iPhone of me in bed in my pajamas, and that my cameraman friend took of me walking around the park and on a local trip have been watched over 20 million times in two weeks and are playing on monitors throughout the city.”

The tone of Utada’s tweet is tongue-in-cheek, implying more surprise that something created in such casual circumstances has now been seen by so many as opposed to genuine distress at …continue reading


Tokyo Babylon anime reboot project cancelled after multiple copied designs discovered

Producers say they have lost faith in Tokyo Babylon 2021’s animation studio.

A lot of media releases have gotten delayed during the pandemic, so Tokyo Babylon 2021, a reboot of creative team Clamp’s Tokyo Babylon franchise, getting pushed back from its original April 2021 release wouldn’t have been such a shocker if the cause had been teleworking logistics hiccups or a key staff member needing to take time off to quarantine. The actual reason, though, turned out to be something much more unexpected: the discovery that two of the anime’s costumes were copied from preexisting fashion and doll accessory designs, as were the poses in the associated key artwork.

Tokyo Babylon 2021 character design comparison

The similarities were first spotted back in November, and involve protagonist Subaru, wearing white robes and purple hakama pants seemingly copied from a Volks-brand doll outfit, and Subaru’s twin sister Hokuto, dressed in attire obviously modeled on an ensemble worn in a promotional photo by a member of Korean idol unit Red Velvet.

Tokyo Babylon 2021’s production committee responded to the discovery by postponing the anime’s premiere while they looked into the matter, and now they’ve gone one step further by canceling the series outright, posting a message on its official website that says:

“After the recent discovery of incidences of plagiarism by the animation production company, the Tokyo Babylon 2021 production committee comprehensively reevaluated the project. As a result, we were disappointed to discover other instances of plagiarism beyond the two character costumes that had been initially pointed out.

We deeply apologize for this oversight.

Following repeated discussions, the production committee no longer has trust in the current production company and does not believe production can continue, so we will be halting production of the Tokyo Babylon 2021 project.”

The production committee has not specified what the newly discovered …continue reading


Golden Bomber wants to help women keep unwanted callers and visitors from knowing they live by themselves.

The importance of image is right there in the genre name for Japan’s visual kei bands, and that goes double for Golden Bomber. Aside from vocalist Sho Kiryuin, the band’s members don’t actually perform their music, but their personalities and on-stage personas have won them a large and loyal following.

Recently, the band did something to endear themselves to their fans even more, with the release of a unique video through their official YouTube channel. It’s not concert or interview footage, though, but a video titled Useful Male Voice Clip Collection for Women Who Live Alone.

The roughly six-minute-long video is a series of sentences spoken by Kiryuin in a clearly annunciated yet natural-sounding voice, and is intended to be of service to women who live by themselves but want to give the impression that they have a husband or boyfriend to help ward off phone calls or knocks on the door from unwanted suitors, stalkers, and salesmen. The video is divided into a number of broadly applicable scenarios, each marked on the progress bar and with multiple levels of sternness to choose from.

For example, the “unwanted solicitor (calm version)” has Kiryuin politely but firmly saying:

“Hello? Sorry, I’m not interested. Goodbye.”

▼ “Unwanted solicitor (calm version)” starts here

The angry version, though, dials up the intensity

“Huh? The hell are you going ringing my doorbell for? F+*k off, and don’t come back.”

▼ “Unwanted solicitor (angry version)”

There’s also a complete set statement for when you’ve ordered something to be delivered, but don’t feel comfortable opening the door to your unit or building and just want the person claiming to be the deliveryman to just leave the package on the ground for you to pick up once they’re gone.

▼ “Hello? …continue reading


J-pop star reflects on the people she’s had to say goodbye to, and why that can hurt like nothing else.

J-pop megastar Utada Hikaru has never presented herself as a delicate or timid vocalist. Yet fans know that for as strong and clear as her voice can be, there’s a certain bittersweet, wistfully yearning quality to her voice, adding a layer of complexity to her greatest hits.

So when Utada was asked about the sorrow that comes when a personal relationship comes to its end, it’s no surprise that she had something deep to say. The question was originally posed to the singer in 2020, but her answer, which she gave as part of one of her English-language Instagram Live sessions, has been generating talk on Japanese Twitter again recently, with some seeing parallels to the themes of anime franchise Evangelion, for which Utada supplied the ending theme for its recent series-concluding theatrical feature.

The question Utada was asked was “Why is getting over someone so painful?”, which prompted her to share her thoughts on loss of all kinds, whether a romantic breakup or the death of a loved one:

“When a relationship ends, or you lose someone, sometimes…if it’s painful I think maybe the pain was already there to begin with, and maybe that relationship was serving like a painkiller. A distraction, something…to take your focus away from yourself for the pain you have inside already. And then sometimes when you lose that crutch you feel that difficulty or that pain again.

I think there is a bit of that because no matter how much you try to stay not too codependent or addicted to stuff like that, it can be a bit of like a substance if you have pain already. Or at least that’s what I’ve learned from my own experiences.”

<img src="" …continue reading