Shaman King

Shaman King is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Hiroyuki Takei. This manga follows the adventures of Yoh Asakura as he attempts to hone his shaman skills to become the Shaman King by winning the Shaman Fight. Takei chose shamanism as the main theme of the series because he wanted a topic that had never been attempted before in manga.

The characters and their spirits

The Shaman King manga was originally serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump between 1998 and 2004. The individual chapters were collected and released in 32 tankōbon volumes by Shueisha. An animated television series was co-produced by TV Tokyo, NAS, and Xebec, which aired on Japan’s TV Tokyo network from 2001 to 2002. The manga has also been reprinted in a kanzenban edition, and has spawned video games, a trading card game, and many types of Shaman King-related merchandise.

In North America, Viz Media obtained the English-language license for the manga and published chapters of Shaman King in its Shonen Jump magazine from March 2003 to August 2007. The anime series was licensed in North America by 4Kids Entertainment in 2003, and aired on Fox Box. Exclusive video games were released by 4Kids Entertainment in North America and Europe.

In Japan, the manga has been popular, selling over 26 million volumes. Both the manga and anime have been featured, at various times, in “top ten” lists of their respective media. The Shaman King anime has been watched by a large number of television viewers in Japan. Publications about manga, anime and other media have commented on the Shaman King manga, with positive comments on the series.

The episodes of the Shaman King anime series are directed by Seiji Mizushima and co-produced by TV Tokyo, NAS, and Xebec.At an early stage of anime production, Takei himself helped the anime’s staff. However, he soon left the staff due to his lack of time as he was working in the manga. The 64 episodes were aired between July 4, 2001, and September 25, 2002, on TV Tokyo in Japan. 4Kids Entertainment obtained the rights to broadcast the Shaman King anime in the United States, where it premiered on Fox Box on August 30, 2003. The final episode aired on September 3, 2005.

 

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Fist of the North Star

Fist of the North Star, known in Japan as Hokuto no Ken, is a Japanese manga series written by Buronson and illustrated by Tetsuo Hara. Serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1983 to 1988, the 245 chapters were initially collected in 27 tankōbon volumes byShueisha. Set in a post-apocalyptic world that has been destroyed by a nuclear war, the story centers on a warrior named Kenshiro, the successor of a deadly martial art style known as Hokuto Shinken, which gives him the ability to kill most adversaries from within through the use of the human body’s secret vital points, often resulting in an exceptionally violent and gory death. Kenshiro dedicates his life to fighting against the various ravagers who threaten the lives of the weak and innocent, as well as rival martial artists, including his own “brothers” from the same clan.

The Fist of the North Star

Hokuto no Ken was first adaptated into a weekly anime series by Toei Animation under the title Seikimatsu Kyūseishu Densetsu: Hokuto no Ken. The series aired on Fuji Television from October 4, 1984 to March 5, 1987, lasting 109 episodes. It was immediately followed by a sequel series, titled Hokuto no Ken 2, which aired from March 13, 1987 to February 18, 1988, lasting for 43 additional episodes (a combined total of 152 episodes between both series). On July 24, 2002, a Super Premium Box consisting of all 152 episodes across 26 DVDs was released.

Tetsuo Hara has stated that he came up with the idea of Hokuto no Ken from his editor Nobuhiko Horie. According to Hara, Horie suggested to him that he should draw a manga about “a martial artist who destroys his opponents by striking their acupressure points” based on Hara’s aspiration to draw a manga about martial arts and his knowledge of pressure points. At the time, Hara was having trouble breaking into the market, as his first series, the Iron Don Quixote, was canceled ten weeks after its debut. A prototype version of Hokuto no Ken was published as a one shot story in the April 1983 issue of Fresh Jump, which was followed by Hokuto no Ken II, a second one-shot published in the June 1983 issue. Both stories are collected in the second tankōbon volume of Tetsu no Don Quixote.

The first 36 episodes of the first series were translated and dubbed by Manga Entertainment in 1999, although only the first 24 episodes were released on VHS. All 36 episodes of the dub version were aired on Showtime Beyond in the United States and on Sci-Fi Channel in the United Kingdom, and were later released on individual DVD volumes in 2003.

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Macross Plus

Macross Plus is a four-episode anime OVA and theatrical movie in the Macross series. It was the first sequel to the original Macross television series that took place in the official timeline (Macross II was quickly reconnected by series creator Shoji Kawamori as a parallel world story in the Macross universe). Plus was a groundbreaking combination of traditional cell and computer-generated animation at the time of its release, paving the way for the incorporation of more computer-generated imagery in Japanese animation.

Cover of Macross Plus

Both the OVA series and movie were released in Japan by Bandai Visual and in North America and Europe by Manga Entertainment. The Australian VHS version was released by Manga Entertainment and the DVD version by Madman Entertainment under sub-license from Manga Entertainment. It features several new mecha designs inspired by the original series.

Three decades after the great war between the humans and the Zentradi, in January 2040, the U.N. government is developing new technologies to use in their transforming fighter aircraft by running tests on the colony planet Eden. Military test pilots and former childhood friends, loose cannon Isamu Alva Dysonand the Zentradi mixed race Guld Goa Bowman, are selected to each pilot a new aircraft (Shinsei Industries’ YF-19 & General Galaxy’s YF-21) for Project Super Nova, to choose the newest successor to the VF-11 Thunderbolt variable fighter which is currently still in use by the U.N. Spacy military forces. Their own personal grudges end up disrupting the tests, and begin to wreak havoc on the program.

Following Big West’s 1992 release of Macross II (which was subsequently retconned as an alternate universe title), original Macross staff member Shoji Kawamori began work on a true sequel to the original Macross series. To realistically depict the intense flight scenes in the anime, Kawamori – along with action choreographer Ichiro Itano and other staff members – traveled to Edwards Air Force Base (which was the basis for New Edwards Air Force Base on planet Eden in the series) in Edwards, California, for a few training sessions with dogfighting school Air Combat USA. The Advanced Tactical Fighter program of the 1980s was the basis of the Project Supernova contest between the YF-19 and YF-21. Consequently, the YF-21’s design was heavily influenced by the Northrop YF-23.

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Armor Hunter Mellowlink

Armor Hunter Mellowlink is a twelve episode anime science fiction action OVAseries spinoff of Armored Trooper Votoms. It premiered on November 21, 1988. It takes place in the same universe (and time, in some episodes, almost the same places) as Votoms, but the two stories are entirely independent of each other.

Mellowlink is the story of a soldier whose unit is sacrificed on the battlefield for reasons unknown. Although he was not meant to survive, the main character, Ality Mellowlink, manages to survive only to be framed for a crime he did not commit. Mellowlink escapes his captors and begins hunting down his former commanding officers, both to get revenge for his dead platoon members and to find out the nature of the conspiracy that led to their death.

Armor Hunter Mellowlink

The series is available for download on Bandai Visual’s official website and the Japanese DVD boxset was released on December 6, 2006. The series was previously issued twice on laserdisc, once as six individual volumes, and once as a three disc box set along with the two soundtracks.

 

The protagonist of the story is Ality Mellowlink, a former AT soldier whose squad, for reasons unknown, is stripped of their status near the end of the war and forced to fight as an infantry unit without armor and using only obsolete or old weapons. Basically they become a last stand unit that is not expected to survive. Episode 5: Battlefield shows us the reason why Mellowlink is in the position he is in. The challenges of fighting Armored Troopers out in the open eventually takes its toll on his squad and the majority of his squadmates are killed in fierce fighting with the enemy. His commanding officer Shoutaichou Shuepps, shields him from a pair of soldiers sent by the top brass to finish off the unit once and for all. Mellowlink the lone survivor then becomes a scapegoat from which the top brass all seek pin blame on him and his unit for anything that went wrong, ignoring the orders they gave to his squad. This becomes known as the Pranbandol Scandal and with the trap well laid Mellowlink storms out of the court, steals the AT rifle he used during the war as well as the dog tags of all his perished comrades. Escaping into the wilderness he plans his revenge on all the commanding officers that sentenced him and his unit to the miserable fate he now bears witness to alone.

Samurai Champloo

Several anime series has made use of the samurai genre and one of the latest would be Samurai Champloo. It is a Japanese anime series developed by Manglobe. It featured a production team led by director Shinichirō Watanabe, character designer Kazuto Nakazawa and mechanical designer Mahiro Maeda. Samurai Champloo was Watanabe’s first directorial effort for an anime television series after the critically acclaimed Cowboy Bebop. It was broadcast in Japan on Fuji TV on May 20, 2004 and ran for twenty-six episodes until its conclusion on March 19, 2005.

Samurai Champloo

Samurai Champloo is set in an alternate version of Edo-era Japan with an anachronistic, predominantly hip-hop, setting. It follows Mugen, an impudent and freedom-loving vagrant swordsman; Jin, a composed and stoic rōnin; and Fuu, a brave young girl who asks them to accompany her in her quest across Japan to find the “samurai who smells of sunflowers”.

Like Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo was critically acclaimed, and the series was dubbed in the English language and licensed by Geneon Entertainment for releases in North America. Funimation Entertainment began licensing the series after Geneon ceased production of its titles. It was also licensed for English releases in the United Kingdom by MVM Films, and in Australia and New Zealand by Madman Entertainment.

Samurai Champloo employs a blend of historical Edo period backdrops with modern styles and references. The show relies on factual events of Edo-era Japan, such as the Shimabara Rebellion (“Unholy Union;” “Evanescent Encounter, Part I”), Dutch exclusivity in an era in which an edict restricted Japanese foreign relations (“Stranger Searching”), Ukiyo-e paintings (“Artistic Anarchy”), and fictionalized versions of real-life Edo personalities like Mariya Enshirou and Miyamoto Musashi (“Elegy of Entrapment, Verse 2”). The exact placement within world history is questionable, however, and is likely somewhat distorted by artistic license. For instance, the appearance of a six shooter in the episode of Misguided Miscreants Part I suggests that the story takes place after 1814, which is when that style of weapon was first invented, yet in the episode Stranger Searching it is explicitly stated that trade relations between Japan and the Dutch East India Company exist, the latter of which went defunct in 1798. Also, the samurai who smells of sunflowers is said to have taken part in the Shimabara Rebellion, which historically occurred between 1637 and 1638.

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Katekyō Hitman Reborn!

It seems that there action and comedy mix well in Japanese anime and Reborn!, known in Japan as Katekyō Hitman Reborn!, hits the nail on the head. The series was originally a Japanese manga that was created by Akira Amano. The story focuses on the life of a young kid named Tsunayoshi Sawada, who discovers that he is the heir to boss of the most powerful Mafia organization called Vongola. In lieu with this, Vongola’s strongest hitman, a gun wielding baby named Reborn, is sent by the family to “tutor” Tsuna on how to be a respectable boss.

 

the cute and deadly Reborn

the cute and deadly Reborn

The anime adaption of Reborn! spans 203 episode. Produced by Artland and directed by Kenichi Imaizumi, the series first aired on October 7, 2006 on the Japanese network TV Tokyo. The final episode premiered on September 25, 2010. Due to the anime series not being licensed for distribution outside of Japan, Funimation, acting on behalf of Japan’s d-rights production company, used the powers of the law to take down fan-subbed episodes of the Reborn! that were posted on the internet. Eventually, on March 21, 2009,Crunchyroll, an anime-streaming website, started to stream subtitled episodes of the anime series in North America.

As of May 29, 2009, there are a total of 27 DVD volumes that have been released in Japan by Marvelous Entertainment. The DVDs come with secondary volume titles: the first eight volumes are “Bullets” which covers the first thirty-three episodes; the next eight are “Battles”, and covers episodes 34 to 65; volumes seventeen and eighteen are “Daily Chapters”, composed of episodes 66 to 73; the next seven are the “Burn” volumes and contains episodes 74 to 101

The series has also spilled into gaming consoles with six video games based solely on the series. The first one to be released was Katekyo Hitman Reborn! DS – Shinuki Max! Vongola Carnival!! on June 28, 2008 for the Nintendo DS. This was followed by three fighting games titled Katekyo Hitman Reborn! Flame Rumble which were successively released on the Nintendo DS and the latest game in the Flame Rumble series was released in July 2009. Another was Katekyo Hitman Reborn! DS: Fate of Heat, an adventure fighting game, released for the Nintendo DS.

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Full Metal Alchemist:Brotherhood

Seldom does an anime series have a full remake and be successful and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is one that is not part of that list. Based on the Fullmetal Alchemist manga by Hiromu Arakawa, the anime series was developed by Bones.  The director was Yasuhiro Irie while the plot written by Hiroshi Ōnogi. Yes, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood is not the first anime television series based on Fullmetal Alchemist but unlike the previous adaptation, it faithfully follows the manga version. Nonetheless, the previous voice actors, Romi Park and Rie Kugimiya return as their roles as the main characters Edward and Alphonse Elric, respectively. The series first aired on April 5, 2009 on MBS-TBS and ended with the final episode on July 4, 2010.

The characters of Full Metal Alchemist:Brotherhood

The characters of Full Metal Alchemist:Brotherhood

When it came to critical reception, the first few episodes of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood received negative comments from members of the Anime News Network staff, who stated that repeating events from the first anime led to predictable events. Mania Entertainment‘s Chris Beveridge said that “the entertainment in these episodes lay in the differences in the characters’ actions from the first series, and original content which focused on the emotional theme of the series.” In another separate review, Beveridge commended the new fight scenes and stated that the additional drama made these episodes “solid”. Chris Zimmerman, a writer from Comic Book Bin said that the series “turns around and establishes its own identity” due to the addition of new characters and certain revelations that were not included in the first version of the series thus increasing its depth. He also said that the animation was superior to that of the first anime; his comments focused on the characters’ expressions and the execution of the fight scenes. A writer from The Los Angeles Times, Charles Solomon had ranked Brotherhood as the second best anime on his “Top 10”. A lot of commendations were given to the final climactic episodes for the way the action scenes were done and how morals were conveyed. Majority of the reviewers agree that the conclusion of Brotherhood is way better than the first Fullmetal Alchemist anime. Critics found the ending satiating; Mark Thomas of The Fandom Post dubbed it as a “virtually perfect ending to an outstanding series”.

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Code Geass

Another fine mech anime that Japanese animation has produced is Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion , most commonly known as Code Geass. A Japanese anime series created by Sunrise, it is directed by Gorō Taniguchi, and written by Ichirō Ōkouchi. The original character designs were done by manga authors, Clamp. The story is set in an alternate universe where the world is divided into three superpowers, Britannia, the Chinese Federation, and the European Union, which was erstwhile known as the Euro-Universe. The plot starts in the time after the Holy Britannian Empire’s conquest on Japan in August 10, 2010 through the use of Britannia’s latest weapon, the “Autonomous Armored Knight”, or Knightmare Frame. As a result, Britannia completely rids Japan and its citizens of all common rights and liberties. The country is then renamed as Area 11 with the Japanese being referred to as elevens. The plot revolves around, Lelouch vi Britannia, the erstwhile prince and his acquisition of a power known as Geass that allows him to control anyone one he has direct eye contact with. Using this ability, he has set on a path to destroy the Holy Britannian Empire.

Code Geass

 

The series Code Geass first aired in Japan on MBS from October 5, 2006, until July 28, 2007. Th sequel series, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 , aired on a simulcast on JNN stations, like MBS and TBS, from April 6, 2008 until September 28, 2008. The series has also received several manga and light novel adaptations. The manga versions portray different alternate scenarios from the TV series. Bandai Entertainment has gained the license for the majority of the franchise for English release in December 2007. Also, Bandai Entertainment has also published the majority of the manga and light novels in North America.

The series has been a great hit in Japan, selling over a million DVD and Blu-ray Disc volumes. The two seasons received numerous awards at the Tokyo International Anime Fair, Animage Anime Grand Prix, and Animation Kobe event. The critics gave praise to the series’ wide audience appeal as well as the believable conflicts shown among the main characters. They also lauded the moral principles raised and tackled by the story.

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