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Sunday, September 18/11

State of the art venue hosts Studio Ghibliís latest film offering

The TIFF Bell Light Box opened its doors to the public on September 12, 2010, and in just over a year has established itself as a benchmark for entertainment and movie venues. The building was designed by KPMB Architects based in Toronto, and put simply is an absolute sight to behold. The overall design of the building is quite simple and functional, but it is in this where its true beauty resides. The plain, simple and minimalist design approach owes a lot to present-day Japanese Aesthetics. The facility houses 5 public cinemas, a bar, bistro and lounge; as well as 3 learning studios and a hub for students and scholars. It is located in the heart of downtown Toronto at the intersection of King and John Streets. Besides the recent Toronto International Film Festival, the venue has played host to other high-profile events such as a recent Tim Burton Gallery and Exhibit. Since I live within 15 minutes' walking distance, I'm almost ashamed to admit it took me almost a year to finally visit the TIFF Bell Light Box.

From Up On Poppy Hill, Studio Ghibliís latest animated feature, directed by the son of the famous Hayao Miyazaki, debuted at TIFF 2011 on September 8th. It was the World Premiere for the film and it screened at 9:30 pm EST, at the TIFF Bell Light Box. The other Anime that screened at the festival, Hiroyuki Okiura's A Letter To Momo, had its International Premiere on September 10th. The venue for this film was the AMC Theatres at Yonge and Dundas Streets.

Here is a list of Japanese films that screened at TIFF 2011, as well as pictures from opening night at the TIFF Bell Light Box.

Japanese Films at TIFF 2011:

From Up On Poppy Hill
A Letter To Momo

Monsters Club
I Wish
Space Is The Place

Japanese Related
Girl Model
Young Pines
Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale
Sea Series #10

Tiff 2011 Opening Night Tiff 2011 Opening Night
Tiff 2011 Opening Night Tiff 2011 Opening Night
Tiff 2011 Opening Night Tiff 2011 Opening Night
Tiff 2011 Opening Night Tiff 2011 Opening Night
Tiff 2011 Opening Night Tiff 2011 Opening Night
Tiff 2011 Opening Night Tiff 2011 Opening Night
Tiff 2011 Opening Night Tiff 2011 Opening Night
Tiff 2011 Opening Night Tiff 2011 Opening Night
Tiff 2011 Opening Night Tiff 2011 Opening Night
Tiff 2011 Opening Night Tiff 2011 Opening Night
Tiff 2011 Opening Night Tiff 2011 Opening Night

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Wednesday, November 25/09

Yona Yona Penguin trailer and release Info

Yona Yona Penguin is a new full length feature film produced by Japanese and French creators. The famed anime studio Madhouse, teamed up with Frenchman Denis Friedman and his production company to work on the film. The movie had its international premiere at the Venice Film Festival on September 12, and most recently, the first Japanese screening took place at the Tokyo International Film Festival on October 19. Yona Yona Penguin is set to hit Japanese theaters in late December of this year.

3D Penguins invade the big screen in Japan

Japanese audiences will be treated to a truly delightful and charming film this holiday season, with the official theatrical release of Yona Yona Penguin. Rintaro, known for his work on anime films like Metropolis and Galaxy Express 999, is the director for this Japanese and French co-production. Denis Friedman, a French producer whose resume includes Kaena: The Prophecy and Fears of the Dark, also lent his talents to the film.

The main character, Coco, in her makeshift penguin costume, is such an endearing sight to behold. She is a female lead that will appeal to both children and adults alike. Visually, Yona Yona Penguin has a very wide appeal to it, and hopefully it will see some sort of international release in the future. It would be a shame to see a movie like this, limited to only film festival screenings ouside of Japan.

With the filmís Japanese release only weeks away, a couple of official trailers have begun to surface on the web. FFOmake has included one of the trailers below. Please enjoy!

Yona Yona Penguin Trailer

Everybody do the Yona Yona!

Would any animated film be complete without the obligatory song and dance? Well the producers of Yona Yona Penguin, most definitely think not! A theme song single CD for the movie was released in Japan on September 25. The CD included the main theme song, as well as image songs, for a total of 5 tracks.

To accompany the release of this album, caricatures of Coco doing the Yona Yona Penguin dance were released to ease the suffering of the masses.

Yona Yona Penguin

If the caricature based instructions did not provide enough detail about how one could get their Yona Yona on! An elaborate instructional video was released, which takes you through all the steps of the dance. It is truly amazing how creative the Japanese get, when it comes to product promotion and media tie-ins.

Yona Yona Penguin
Yona Yona Penguin

Yona Yona Penguin Theme Song Sample

Just in time for the holiday season, Yona Yona Penguin debuts in Japanese theaters on December 23.

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Thursday, September 10/09

So Real Cru Invades Anime Matsuri

America's Best Dance Crew Season two runners up, So Real Cru, have become quite the phenomenon in the urban dance world. From their catchy "I'm So Real" punch line, to their clean and hard-hitting dance moves, this extremely talented group from Houston, Texas, continues to wow fans on a global scale. A video was just recently released that happens to contain footage of their visit to Anime Matsuri, an annual anime convention that takes place in Woodlands, Texas.

So Real Cru + Otaku = ?

Mass Hysteria! At least thats what it seemed like, when America's Best Dance Crew runners up, So Real Cru crashed the scene at Anime Matsuri. This high energy urban dance group from Houston, indulged themselves at this anime convention, as they playfully interacted with innocent and unsuspecting convention goers. Their level of enthusiasm is truly a joy to watch, especially how they reacted to the various costumes worn by fans for the event.

The video clip below is footage from So Real Cru's hometown dance tour. The Anime Matsuri segment, starts at 1:53 min and ends at 3:06. Yes! It is short. But the video clip is well worth seeing, since it contains some very good convention footage.

Anime Matsuri 2010 will be returning to Woodlands, Texas for the weekend of April 2-4.

So Real Cru - Hometown Tour

Official Website: So Real Cru
Convention: Anime Matsuri

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Tuesday, October 14/08

Manglobe gears up for their third TV series

The folks that brought us the insanely stylized, hip hop infused samurai action adventure, Samurai Champloo, and the dark Gothic sci-mystery, Ergo Proxy, are at it again with their latest production. Manglobe is set to debut their new TV series this fall, titled Michiko to Hatchin, and from the first couple of trailers it would seem that, this rather new but highly touted studio, is pulling no punches here folks. Expect another high quality animation production from a Japanese studio that keeps setting the bar even higher with each new work, kudos to Manglobe!

Viva Brazil!

Michiko to Hatchin, the newest TV series from Manglobe, will be treating fans to a unique flavor of anime, with its distinctive Brazilian flair. With the story being set in Brazil, the production staff travelled to South America to do some very extensive location hunting, to ensure that the anime would be as culturally and geographically accurate as possible. Their location hunting brought them to five very prominent areas of Brazil, Sao Luis, Recife, Barreiras, Olinda and Rio de Janeiro. Knowing that the production staff of Michiko to Hatchin went to great lengths to ensure that the anime would be faithful to its setting and locales, is something that fans should both appreciate and look forward to. The music for the show is being supervised by Shinichiro Watanabe, who is most famous for his directorial work on Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo.

Michiko to Hatchin is set to air on Fuji TV, with the premiere episode on October 15.

Michiko to Hatchin - Teaser Trailer

Michiko to Hatchin - Extended Trailer

Japanese Vocal Cast:

Michiko: Yoko Maki

Hatchin: Suzuka Ohgo

Hiroshi: Kanji Tsuda

Atsuko: Maki Sakai

Pepe: Shie Kohinata

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Tuesday, November 27/07

CHANGE is needed and NOW more then ever!

The anime industry in both Japan and North America has gone through a lot of significant changes in the last few years, particularly in the last few months. The news of Geneon Entertainment ceasing DVD production and distribution of all their properties might not have been a shock to industry insiders, but the majority of fans out there were in utter disbelief when word finally got out. I think a lot of people, particularly media and those who work in the industry view the demise of Geneon, as a sign of the current troubling state of things.

Everyone is throwing around numbers and statistics about anime sales being down or how much percentage of people actually download fansubs? This numerical talk is all fine and dandy, but I personally believe that a solution to this problem can only be reached, if fans and anime companies stop blaming one another. Iím frankly sick and tired of fans bickering about overpriced DVDís, and Iím not very impressed at how anime companies attack fans on issues like fansubs. Iím not trying to say that either side does not have valid points to back up their statements and arguments. Iím simply suggesting that things have gotten to a point, where both fans and anime companies need to work together so a resolution can be reached, to address the situation at hand.

I think a lot of people tend to forget where anime originates from and where it is produced, in Japan. I honestly believe that before change can happen here, it must first take place in Japan. It is true that in the last few years, Japanese companies have been relying on overseas revenue and licensing fees of their properties, to turn a profit on their investments. But I believe that the Japanese business model when it comes to marketing and selling anime has to be completely revamped, because their current one is simply not working. Fewer shows are being licensed theses days, North American anime DVD sales are down drastically and they have continued to decrease over the last couple of years. More and more fans have turned to illegall downloading, and who can really blame them, it is something that is readily available, free of cost and there are no consequences for their actions. I could continue my literary rant for hours, but if I did I still would not be able to come up with a concrete solution to fix the current state of things. I will end off by reiterating, that if change is to going to happen here, it first must take place in Japan!

Justin Sevakis at Anime News Network has written an open letter to the anime industry, in which he discusses some very touchy subjects, chief among those, being the issue of fansubs. His editorial is a very thorough and informative read, and gives some great insight into an industry that is at a crossroads.

Justin Sevakis: An Open Letter to the Industry

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