Friday, November 30, 2007

When American Bands (British Ones Too!) Appear on Japanese TV #6!

We've caught yet another sighting of an American/British singer appearing on Japanese TV! James Blunt, famous for that tearjerker song You're Beautiful appeared on last week's SMAP X SMAP for an interview and to perform the aforementioned song, as well as his most recent chart topper, 1973. Special thanks to The Me for his help in bringing these clips to our channel - and the performance alongside SMAP is worth watching!

In an effort to keep this page loading fast, we have reduced the amount of entries that shows up on the front page, and we're only going to post the first video- and link the other two. Because very soon is coming our 20th Commercials Corner, and we have quite the bonanza planned if all goes well!

Here he is being interviewed by SMAP!

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Performance of You're Beautiful.

Performance of 1973.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Quick Reminders and Upcoming Updates!

Hey everyone - Paprika is on DVD today in both standard and Blu-Ray formats so go pick up your copy today! Two former stars of Sailor Moon can be heard in it, Toru Furuya (Tuxedo Mask) and Megumi Hayashibara (Himeko in the S movie) and they both have leading roles!

There will be a commercials post probably on Friday - things are getting very busy as it is December and we'll remind our readers we are still looking for one more writer! Please click the link at the top right of this page for more information. We ask you all for your patience as it's probably going to take us a little longer than usual to get our stories on this page.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Right Stuf’s Anime Today Podcast Features Interview With Fred Ladd

And We Take Offense At Some Things He Has To Say.

Due to the potential offensive nature of a comment Fred Ladd made during the interview, we caution readers before they click the link below to read this. Fred states in the interview that he in no means is demeaning anyone, however we feel we need to restate this just in case fans miss it in our transcript posted below or when they listen to the podcast. We at Moon Chase! would like to state that we in no way believe that any nation has a specific way of thinking about the cartoons that they make, especially when it comes to the nature of violence in a cartoon. Our staff is multi-culturally diverse and we are the last people on the planet to demean another culture or race over anything - especially over the cartoons that they make. We are only stating what was said in the interview.

Now in it’s third year, Right Stuf’s Anime Today podcast brings fans the latest news and reviews about anime, manga, and Japan. In their 53rd installment, they included the second part of an interview they had with animation legend, Fred Ladd. Fred Ladd has been in the animation industry since 1958, directing, producing, consulting, writing and editing cartoons. He was a pioneer in the development of cel animation, supervising the first colorations of Looney Tunes and Betty Boop, as well as colorizations of the old black and white Popeye and Merrie Melodies. Now, how did these black and white cartoons get colorized? By using a new technique at the time that required tracing of film frames that had been blown up to cel-sized proportions. Back then there were no computers to do the work for them, so this was all done by hand. However, in the 90s this work was all lost as the coloration was done by computers. Fred served as creative consultant on the first two seasons of the show.

However, most of the staff here took offense to a few things that he said. We thought that it was wrong of him to call Sailor Moon the "most violent kids show I have ever seen in my whole eyes". We can think of many kids cartoons that were more violent than it. We also think that he’s a bit of a hypocrite when he says that considering he has worked on other productions such as Gigantor, The Incredible Hulk and MASK. Just a few minutes later he does a complete 360° praising the characters for their warmth and humanity. And then there was a comment at the end which really struck a nerve "...but there were other scenes of violence and cruelty that I can’t imagine - it almost sounds racist but I don’t mean it to be - but I can’t imagine anyone in the States - in American arms - we just don’t think that way." We understand you don't mean to offend in a racial way Fred, but if we really tried , we could name several American cartoons before and after Sailor Moon that are more violent, or just as violent - Looney Tunes, Batman: The Animated Series, Ninja Turtles, Batman Beyond, Spider Man, South Park, and to a certain extent The Powerpuff Girls, The Simpsons and Family Guy. Those were only naming a few, but if we mentioned all of them we’d probably run out of space. We here at Moon Chase are pretty offended with this comment - and we think Fred needs a reality check.

Try as we might have to make this transcript 100% accurate, there were some parts where it was hard to decipher what words he was saying. Also because Fred had such a passion about his answer, it was difficult to discern the ends of sentences as he was talking so we apologize for the incorrect punctuation. We tried our best. Fans can listen to the podcast here, and can skip ahead to around 26:20 to listen to Fred talk about Sailor Moon.

Female Interviewer: And now back to the second half of Mr Ladd’s Interview.

And you’ve managed- you’ve stayed involved in the industry and worked on projects since then too that was one thing a lot of people I’m not sure know that you’ve done.

Male Interviewer: And one of the things in particular I’m sure a lot of people don’t realize is that you have some involvement in the original release here of Sailor Moon, can you talk a little bit about that?

Fred Ladd: Yes, Sailor Moon, yeah. Uh I will tell you, the first thing I’ll tell you about Sailor Moon - uh and it was only after I got into it - Sailor Moon I will tell you is the most - this is gonna surprise you I’m sure - is I talked about violence - Sailor Moon is the most violent kids show I have ever seen in my whole eyes. I have never seen anything - I couldn’t believe it. When the series was first offered to me, and I’m going back now to 1995 - I was busy when that was first offered I think DiC studios bought it in - DiC was doing Strawberry Shortcake and a lot of other little cute cartoons, Inspector Gadget was out of DiC, so they were doing their own shows, and they had no experience in bringing in a Japanese show. Which Sailor Moon is also called that in Japan, Sailor Moon. It became a phenomenon in Japan. It was a wild success in Japan being drawn at that time for a manga, for comic books by a young gal who was at that time 27 years old, and she became an overnight millionairess. Her name escapes me too at the moment, but if I’ll have to think about it, I’ll think about it. But she was a gal, 27, became suddenly wealthy, and Sailor Moon did it for her. Well when I was first offered and I was tied up with other stuff and I thanked the guys at DiC very much, guys who were old friends of mine, knew’em. They said Fred, we need your help on this, it’s Japanese and we thought - we do our own shows and we thought this was going to be formatted like our own shows so we went ahead and bought it, and it’s coming in and it’s not what we thought! We’re not sure how to handle this could you give us a hand? I said fellas I’d love to but I’m working on this and that and so forth and I turned them down. In fact I recommended another guy to do it, he did the first 3 or 4 shows and it wasn’t working. And finally I got an SOS from DiC, Fred, we tried so hard and this isn’t working, Fred, you gotta help us with this, it’s not what we thought... Fred you gotta help us. Again I said look, I can’t, and they said will you come over and take a look, before you say no - in all fairness to yourself - come over and we’ll speed a couple of shows and see what you think. And whatever speed a couple of shows, I was flipped, oh I said this is great this is charming. The characters were so warm, and so human and this 27 year old artist - boy she understood people. Because the humanity of these cartoon characters the warmth I mean they were delightful I was charmed - by these five young gals who come to earth from outer space, they come to earth because they are being driven away from outer space by the evil forces of the negaverse. They are sent by their parents the same way as superman first comes, do you remember superman? Comes from a dying planet, sent by his loving father. So the same idea, that these five girls come floating from other planets, hence the name sailor, they all wear little sailor suits and they sail down to earth where they meet each other - just to meet each other because of their outer spacey origin. They even look human, as human as all of us except me, and they were just delightful characters. I said well, alright, I’ll try a few, let’s see if you like my approach. I said listen, before you want me for the series, let me do a few and see what you think. It stretched the whole series. We wound up doing 65 of them, it was a joy to do, I just loved the characters. The warmest, cutest of them - we had so much fun doing it. When I say violent, there were cases here where the violence was such that I just said my God what! Uh Sailor Moon, the young girl that is nicknamed Sailor Moon, she’s called Serena in our English version, the Japanese called her Usagi - which means rabbit - bunny rabbit which means bunny in Japan, you’ve heard of bunny. So we called her Serena and uhh again she awakens one day with no recollection really of her outer space origin. She thinks she’s just like other kids in junior high she is a 14 year old girl - Sailor Moon is a 14 year old girl. And all the other girls that she meets that come from outer space they’re all 14 years of age and they are in high school. Well the charm is that they are like her - they start falling in love, they are on the phone, they like talking about boys and it’s just so cute with pajama parties and stuff like that. It was just a lot of fun. Now one day, a plant - a plant - a veg- just a flower comes in, it arrives one day and no one knows exactly where it came from , but she has the courage let’s keep it here, oh what a beautiful plant! One night, Bunny, our Serena, is walking around - she passes the plant, and the plant flower suddenly becomes a face you can see a face in the petals and you see an evil smile. And the long leaves - petals they become like arms and they grow grow grow and the leaves they combinate, they take the girl Serena, they wrap around her like a boa constrictor like a python and they begin squeezing and lifting the girl up in the air towards the sky to the point where her eyes unfortunately blackout - I said My God What? That’s gotta go, that’s gotta be cut. So that’s one scene of violence, but there were other scenes of violence and cruelty that I can’t imagine - it almost sounds racist but i don’t mean it to be - but I can’t imagine anyone in the States - in American arms - we just don’t think that way. So as I say when I called the cartoon violent, I began to see increasing violence, I said what the heck is goin’ on, it’s gotta be cut. Of course, it’s gotta be cut. Now once you cut things, again you wind up with a short show, I wind up with a show that’s too short. So we had to figure out how to tackle that and all. So I like this show because of both of the challenge and the warmth and humanity of it. So I have a special warm place in my heart for Sailor Moon.

And then he went on to talk more about Astroboy. He later said he was glad that he took the show on after all and that it was fun.

We’re going to open it up to you all now, so feel free to discuss Fred’s comments below!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Commercials Corner #19

Hey Moonies,

It seems Veoh is having another fit this morning and keeps kicking me out of the video upload page. We've got a good-sized list of them this week, but I was only able to get four of them uploaded. I'll give it another go tomorrow morning and in the mean time, here are the first four:

Update: Now that Veoh is being nice, the rest of the commercials are uploaded and ready for your enjoyment! First up, our three features:

The latest DoCoMo 2.0 commercial featuring some Sousa for background music!

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The newest SoftBank commercial, again featuring one of the SoftBank dogs!

Online Videos by

A interesting Rube Goldberg device for apple picking from Minute Maid!

Online Videos by

And the rest:
Playstation 3!
Kirin Hard Juice!
Listerine with some very upset dental instruments!
Super Mario Galaxy!
☼ Four commercials for Shiseido's hair care products! 1, 2, 3, 4
DHC for Men skincare!
Wonda Black Coffee!
Georgia Emerald Mountain Blend and a giveaway contest!
Lipton Yellow Label Tea!
Vicks Medicated Drops!
Ace Combat 6 for Xbox 360!
Coke Zero!
☼ Two products from House Foods Noodle cups and Hokkaido Stew!
Nissin Soup cups!
Essential Hair care!
Celine Dion!
Uniqlo Heattech clothing!
Mens' suits from Aoki!
Diehard 4.0 trailer!
National Treasure 2 trailer!
Mr. Donut!
Christmas at Tokyo Disneyland!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Where is Optimum Productions?

And Does Funimation Want In?

We've known about this for a few weeks now. Firmin Productions might be the new home of Nicole Thuault, responsible for the production of the English version of Sailor Moon. What's really surprising is that while none of us has ever seen Firmin credited on any Sailor Moon, they are indeed taking credit for it as a company. Sailor Moon is also listed under Optimum Productions' credits. Optimum Productions' website is still up and operational, however our attempts to email them to clear up this matter were futile as we never heard back from them to see if Nicole was still with the company or not. Nicole Thuault is still listed as being VP Production at Optimum. It also appears (very bizarrely) that Firmin is in the building next door to Optimum in Mississauga, Ontario when comparing their addresses. Neither website looks like they have been updated in ages, and a search for either of these companies on industry websites came up dry. It's also a little bit shady that Firmin lists a cell phone number rather than a business line. We also couldn't find anything about Firmin's Les Exploits de Thu Thu/The Adventures of Thu Thu. If any of our readers know what has happened to Optimum Productions or Firmin Productions, do not hesitate to contact us!

Some of you may be wondering why we are bringing this to your attention. Last week, ANN posted a link to Navarre’s Fiscal Year Second-Quarter Results Conference Call. Fans may recall that Funimation is one of Navarre’s companies. We will now quote Navarre CEO Kerry Deacon.

"On September 21st, one of Funimation’s competitors Geneon announced it was closing it’s retail sales operations and advised all retail partners that it had until November 30th to return all goods. It is too early to tell what impact this decision will have on Funimation, but generally we believe it could be positive to our position in the market place, both from a sales and a content acquisition basis. Geneon represented some very strong content such as Sailor Moon, Van Hellsing, and Black Lagoon, whose future quite frankly is unknown at this point as to what next steps may be around those - surrounding that IP."

So, Funimation is interested - but they are only the latest addition to such a growing lineup for the rights to Sailor Moon. We all know there has been a lot of industry talk lately , especially with rumors of Toei wanting to bring their popular AnimeBB service to North America, and Tokyopop still maintaining an interest in the manga. Now that Funimation has come out and said that they are interested in acquiring former Geneon titles like Sailor moon, it seems that there is a pot being stirred in North America. But the missing ingredient is Sailor Moon and it’s all dependent on whether or not Naoko Takeuchi wants to let the property come back to the world. We found it sort of odd that while Sailor Moon hasn’t been a part of Geneon’s catalogue for a very long time, that it is still associated with that company. If Funimation would have really payed attention they might have realized that Sailor Moon isn’t licensed to anyone at the moment and it is "up for grabs" so to speak. Or better yet not mentioned it as all since Naoko has frozen the rights for the series everywhere except for Japan.

The other question we ask is that if there is a chance that Sailor Stars or any of the "lost"/missing episodes or specials would be dubbed, would it be best to have Optimum Productions back in charge of it? On the Pro side: Most of the cast would be likely to return and another production company may not honor the legacy they have created. Sailor Moon helped to put these talented voices on the map , and helped to establish Canada as a major force in cartoon dubbing. It would be sad to see them go. A modern example of this would be the Care Bears - the new CBS Saturday Morning cartoon is being handled by a different company and none of the talent from the original series and the movies are included. Save for Scott McNeil’s performance as Grumpy Bear, the new cast lacks the charming appeal of the old one.

But on the Con side, Nicole Thuault and the rest of the production team made some of the most controversial edits to the series without really explaining why (later we’ll be featuring a story on another member of the creative team who made some bizarre decisions). They went so far as to say that these edits were the result of the CRTC’s decisions, however we found the opposite as we were digging into the trenches of the internet trying to find out what had happened to Optimum Productions. For those of us who really want to know what role the CRTC played in terms of censorship of Sailor Moon S couple Haruka and Michiru/Amara and Michelle, you should give this article a read. Moreover, we have learned that Optimum Productions did in fact work their "magic" on another Asian animated production. Korea’s Hammerboy was released in 2005, with Optimum in charge of the English language dub (and Firmin also takes credit) . We’ve read mixed reviews, either viewers really enjoyed or despised the English cast, and some viewers didn’t agree with the censorship of a few scenes. None of us has seen it yet, but we would love to hear from those of you who have.

Readers, feel free to post below what you are making of all of this. We can keep reporting talk of companies interested in Sailor Moon, but we’re starting to get a little tired of everyone saying that they want it, and yet the series is still stuck in Japan.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

VA Sightings November 2007!

Julie Lemieux Cast in New Cartoon!

Almost a year in advance, we have some news of a future VA sighting! Clang Invasion is a very diverse joint production between Singapore’s Scrawl Studios and the Media Development Authority of Singapore, Canada’s Decode Entertainment and YTV, as well as Hong Kong’s Agogo Entertainment. This is a cartoon that’s a “fast-paced, anything can happen, roller coaster ride of comedy that has the same attention span as the kids that are in the story.” Daisy and Robin Harrison are your average siblings who live a boring life, until the day it all changes when dysfunctional alien robots crash land in their backyard! Julie Lemieux (Sammy, Peruru, and Young Darien) will be voicing the lead character of Robin (pictured as the redhead sitting in the middle of the couch [courtesy Decode])! What’s even bigger is that this cartoon will be making its debut at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival in May 2008. We have heard rumors of an even bigger VA-related production making a debut at the same festival but we are awaiting confirmation, and you will be the first to know once we do!

Robert Tinkler Returns to Television!

We have a feeling that due to the Writers Guild of America strike, some television shows that were scheduled as mid-season replacements have been moved in their scheduling to keep viewers watching newer programming. Notes From the Underbelly was one of these shows that wasn’t supposed to return to the airwaves until at least January, but will now return to ABC November 26th. Robert Tinkler (Rubeus) plays the constantly thrown-around Ben, the assistant to workaholic lawyer Cooper (oplayed by Rachel Harris). Fans can also check out Robert playing various voices on the Fox Cartoon American Dad, and hear some newly-posted soundscapes on his official website!

And As Promised, a Sugar Fix!

Stephanie Beard fans, a few weeks ago we got a complete surprise here at Moon Chase! We heard from Sugar herself over Veoh , and though we can't really talk about what is going on, we've noticed that there has been a lot of chatter all over the internet wondering where she is. She's really busy in Hollywood right now with making her career. Starting a new phase in life is never easy and we are rooting for you Sugar in the hopes that things get a little smoother for you soon!

In the meantime, we dug up a few older articles from our Vault that we are pasting and linking after the jump! Click the orange-colored text if you're ready!

From Young People's Press (2005):

That can't be your real voice
By Sydnia Yu

Every weekday afternoon, between episodes of Jimmy Neutron and Spongebob SquarePants, Sugar entertains YTV’s young viewers with her goofball antics and energetic personality.

One day the four-foot-eleven host for The Zone is giggling with co-host Carlos about superheroes or her pigtails, the next she’s strutting her stuff, doing victory dances and falling off a dirt bike for the first time.

In the world of children’s television, Sugar fits right in.

She acts like one of them, she looks like one of them, and she even sounds like one of them.


“I get a lot of kids that say, “I love your voice, I love your voice!” says the host, who‘s in her early twenties, of the e-mails she gets about her childlike voice. “Some kids have said, “Oh, my mom has said your voice is irritating, but I love your voice.”

Despite comments like that and constant, “Come on, that can’t be your real voice!” reactions, Sugar says she never heard negative remarks about the voice she was born with, especially when she was growing up.

“It all seemed very natural until I left high school. Then doing regular grown up things like ordering a pizza, I’d always get “Ok, baby, now is your mom home?” she says. “People always assume I’m a little girl because of my little voice.”

But some of her viewers have told her they had less positive experiences.

“I had one e-mail that was from a little girl from Vancouver saying, “Dear Sugar, I’m so happy you have a little voice because I have a little voice too. And now, instead of getting made fun of, people say, “Wow, you sound like Sugabaybee! That’s so cool!”

As an actress who achieved fame for parodying Eminem in her song “The Real Sugabaybee” on Toronto’s Kiss FM radio station and playing Rini for Sailor Mini Moon, Sugar makes it cool to have an unusual voice. And through acting, she’s found a way to make use of a rare trait.

In the 30 years Roland Parliament has been involved in voice work as a voice-over performer, voice instructor and voice director, he says Sugar is one of three women he’s come across with an unusual voice.

He says the challenge for them, as with any voice actor, is not only to focus on the sound, but the use of their voice.

“I’ll play a tape to a class of someone with a really pleasant, soothing voice. I’ll say to the class afterwards, “So what do you think of that?” Their answer is almost universally, “That’s a nice voice,” Parliament explains. “Now, what did they say?” and they say, “Gee, I don’t really know what he said.”

He says people can get caught up in the sound of voice and miss the message. “In commercial work, that’s a bad thing because people aren’t getting the message someone has paid for. In cartoon work, that’s a bad thing because you can’t follow the plot.”

While unusual voices are in demand in animation, and high-pitched, nasally voices become character trademarks on sitcoms - “Janice” on Friends, “Karen” on Will & Grace and “Fran” on The Nanny (only Fran Drescher’s voice on The Nanny is real) - many actresses work hard to find their niche.

Karen Kyle, 30, says her high-pitched voice bothered her in high school and made her insecure. “They’d laugh at me, people always stare and laugh, “Ooh, that’s freaky.”

She grew out of it and learned to manipulate her voice to a certain degree with voice training from her niece, who is an opera singer. Yet her voice still worked against her when she auditioned to do sexy voices for things like perfume ads.

“I can’t do older voices so there’s a limited amount of work that can be done with my voice,” she says.

“I didn’t know where to go or who to talk to.”

But Kyle, who has been compared to Sugar, says Sugar’s success is inspiring her to try cartoon voice-overs.

“I said if she can do it, I can do something about it as well.”

Montreal actress Christine Lan, 24, says one time when she auditioned to do a Chinese commercial, she fit the physical description of the Asian performer they were looking for, but was told her voice was too high and childlike.

Lan says in a city that doesn’t offer enough roles for ethnic actors, there are fewer prejudgments and more opportunities in the voice industry.

“People don’t see you, they don’t judge you, they only hear you, so it’s to your benefit. I also don’t have to worry about my image, for example if I’m pregnant,” says Lan, who’s also a newlywed.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Rae Ellen Bodie, 35, is often mistaken for a man because of her deep, androgynous voice.

During a play, in which she played a female bully, 90 per cent of the time the first question for the Q&A was, “Are you a boy or a girl?”

As irritating as that was, Bodie says ambiguity gives her room to play more roles.

“Having the voice that I do and the range that I do, I can play male characters or female characters depending on what the need is or if the director has to double cast,” says Bodie, who plays Juliet’s nurse and an old man in the chorus in Juliet (and Romeo) at the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre for Young People

Actress, voice talent and stand-up comic, Angela Maiorano, 32, has voiced Care Bear character Love-a-Lot Bear, as well as a character on the cartoon George and Martha.

She says there are times when she’s overlooked for certain roles because of her high-pitched voice, but in other situations it gives her an edge.

“From a comedy standpoint, it helped me come out of my shell. It’s not so much a gift, but an asset to acting,” says the five-foot-seven entertainer.

Maiorano adds she differs from the typical blond, blue-eyed actors who all look alike, and her voice enhances her uniqueness.

“I have a big head, so I stand out from the average chick, and I have big hair and people remember me because I’m a freak!”

Sugar says she also doesn’t think she’d be where she is now without her “strange little voice,” and is happy to help young people realize their voice isn’t so weird after all.

“I think it’s important for young kids, if they’re feeling uncomfortable with their voice to realize that voice is something that will never change and everybody’s voice is beautiful whether it’s deep or high or low,” she says.

“And just take advantage of it, have fun with your voice if you’re feeling uncomfortable with it, play around. That’s all I ever did. Now I make a lot of money making cartoons,” she says with a laugh.


From Fine Cut (2006):

Sweet Success

YTV's Sugar proves she's more than just a voice
By Jaclyn Newman

Sugar : With a voice like Mickey Mouse on helium, she grabs the attention of anyone flipping through the channels. She’s Sugar, a voice actress and the bubbly host of YTV’s The Zone.

At 25, the Scarborough native, whose real name is Stephanie Beard, is well-known, even by those who are too old to watch cartoons and don’t have children. Off-air, her voice isn’t quite as childlike and squeaky as it is on TV. Even though it’s syrupy sweet, it has an air of maturity about it. So when a radio personality at the now defunct KISS FM heard Sugar emceeing a Roots staff party when she was in high school, he asked her to make an appearance on his hip-hop show. When the station’s management heard her unique sound, Sugar, at the age of 18, was offered the chance to join Jay “Mad-Dog” Michaels and Billie Holiday on their popular morning show as the personality Suga BayBee.

Julie Adam, a former program director at KISS FM, says the station got a lot of positive feedback from listeners who were drawn in by Sugar’s voice and upbeat personality.

“Being on the radio helped me in many ways,” says Sugar. “It was because I was on the radio that I got a call from an agent who got me doing voice work…my career took off from there.”

Indeed it did. Still living with her parents (she moved out for a few years but lives with them again now), Sugar’s life soon became a whirlwind of auditions, voice training and work in Canada and the United States. In 2001, she landed a role on Sailor Moon, a popular anime show broadcast on YTV. That same year, she caught the attention of executives at YTV and she became a host of The Zone – YTV’s long-running block of after-school programming.

Sugar’s voice – a trait she dubs her “calling card” – may have played a large part in her success, but it’s her personality that keeps people wanting more.

“Her voice is part of her success and individuality,” says YTV executive producer Melanie York. “It’s certainly part of her uniqueness and distinctness as a major Canadian host and it has given her great opportunities with voice work. However, as an on-air personality, she has so many winning qualities: her comedic timing, her wonderful connection with the camera and audience…a positive outlook, an energy and coolness that is unique.”

Sugar has hosted The Zone for almost five years, a job that requires being at YTV about eight hours every weekday. When she isn’t there, she is often auditioning for voice roles – she has been the voice behind characters in Beyblade and the Care Bears movies. She recently signed on to Captain Flamingo, a show broadcast on YTV, and is trying her hand at writing. She started a weekly column in April 2004 called Sugar Buzz for Brand New Planet, a newspaper geared towards nine to 14- year-olds in the Thursday edition of The Toronto Star.

Despite success, her busy schedule and huge fan-following – Sugar and her co-host, Carlos, receive hundreds of e-mails a day – Sugar remains down-to-earth and takes being a role model seriously. Children often confide in her when they are harassed by their peers, especially about their voices.

“When kids tell me they get teased, I tell them to brush it off their shoulders because everything about people, the things that make them unique, are so special. You are who you are and those unique things make us who we are. I am Sugar and my voice is one of those things about me.”

Sugar hopes she has a positive impact on children.

“I love to hear a child tell me they have a high voice like mine and that before, kids made fun of their voice, but now they say ‘Wow, your voice is like Sugar’s!’ I feel like I have made a difference, even if it’s only in some small way.”

Those who have worked with Sugar say she’s left an imprint on her audience, one that goes beyond relating to children who get teased about the sound of their voice.

“Sugar respects herself and respects her audience and kids pick up on that. She’s honest about who she is and doesn’t imitate anyone,” says York. “She has a sincere understanding and appreciation of her target audience. She totally gets the culture of kids and can relate to their interests in movies, music and clothes. Many kids express really liking Sugar – that she’s a great role model, that she’s friendly, funny and cool.”

Sugar also has some practical advice for those wanting to break into television.

“Tell every person what you want to be, what you want to do with your life,” Sugar advises her fans who want to break into TV. “Don’t be pushy and don’t trust everyone, but be open and share your hopes and dreams. You never know when you are going to meet someone who can help you reach them.”


From the Toronto Observer (2002):

Sugar's outlook is sweet

Energetic YTV host is doing it all, and loving it
Stephanie Beard, alias “Sugar” of YTV’s The Zone, answers questions posed by two viewers-turned-interviewers — eight-year-old Jackie Cogan and 11-year-old Amanda Cogan.

They say that in the old days, you could get discovered on a stool in front of the soda fountain at Schwabb's drug store in Hollywood. For one Scarborough native, the modern-day equivalent turned out to be the Roots outlet at the Scarborough Town Centre.

The teenager working at Roots and emceeing a staff party a couple of years ago was one Stephanie Beard. Today, she is "Sugar," a charismatic 20-year-old and media whirlwind.

She's the host of YTV's "The Zone," a highly ratd block of after-school programming. She's one of the voices in Sailor Moon and other cartoons. She's a budding recording artist and producer.

And a master of understatement: "Things seem to work out sometimes," she told a couple of young interviewers who visited her on the set of The Zone. "I'm very, very fortunate."

It's especially impressive, given that Sugar seems younger than her years. But it's a characteristic that she's clearly turned to her advantage.

"You thought I was younger, didn't you?" she asked the cub reporters, on a morning's leave from their Grade 2 and 5 classes. They laughed and replied: "Yes." So do a lot of YTV viewers, and many of the parents looking over their shoulders.

Unique and endearing
To begin with, Sugar has an unusual voice. It's the first thing that most people notice about her. YTV's literature calls it, simply, "unique." It's little-girlish, and beyond, almost as if she’s been sucking on helium. Some people find it cloying. Others find it endearing. On the air, it has more of an edge than in person, the way some radio disc jockeys unconsciously or consciously pump it up for the microphone.

She's also a petite woman, slender and under five feet. Her Grade 5 interviewer actually stood taller. So do most of her guests on The Zone, reinforcing that youthful perception.

And, on TV anyway, she's dictionary-example cute. Given the image that's worked so well for her, maybe that's for the best. But the camera isn't entirely fair to Sugar; in person, her features seem to soften, and one gets the sense of a really quite lovely young woman — instead of an adorable kid.

Given the chance, the 20-year-old also comes out in an interview. She's willing to tackle mature themes, like the state of children's TV. But she's clearly more comfortable in the Sugar mode.

"To work with kids, and to have that mentality every day and have that innocent mindset is just the greatest thing," she said. "Life is just so much about being happy... and who's happier than kids?"

When Sugar was a kid — and picked up that pet name from her parents — her ambitions were all over the map: astronaut, veterinarian, artist.

"Then I discovered acting in about Grade 10,” she said. “And I just fell for it. I love acting. That's my main passion.”

Drive and ambition
But this Cinderella story really begins at that staff party at Roots, when a disc jockey from KISS 92, one of Toronto's dance-format radio stations, arrived as a guest of one of the party-goers. When he heard Sugar at the microphone, he invited her to appear on a late-night hip-hop program.

"He just saw all that energy and wanted that voice on his show," Sugar remembered.
That became a once-a-week appearance. Then station management heard her, and made her a daily sidekick on the 5-9 a.m. show.

Sugar had gone from Grade 12 to the morning show on a major market radio station.
"When you make it sound big, it sounds big,” she laughed. “But when I was there, it just seemed like everything was going in the right path."

That might have been enough — or more than enough — for some teenagers. But Sugar is an exception to that axiom about teens — that they have lots of ambition and not much drive. She seems to have them in equal, huge amounts. She was barely in the door at KISS when she started broadening her base — recording a song (The Real Suga Baybee) that became one of the station's most requested, and attending lots of auditions. That's how YTV found her.

"I didn't have a lot of time to hang out with my friends,” she said. “I've missed all the parties. But that's what I was waiting for. That's what I wanted."

These days, she still puts in extra hours after her day job at YTV, part of the sprawling complex of specialty networks run by Corus Entertainment on Jefferson Avenue, in an industrial area near the CNE. Mornings are spent prepping for afternoons of shooting the material that runs between YTV's late-afternoon shows.

Some of it is taped; some is live-to-air. There are interviews with entertainers, contests, and just horsing around.

Children's television looks bright
Sugar says she's proud of the shows in her block — and the rest of YTV’s schedule, for that matter.

"It's really developed; for example, the Japanese animation that's out right now,” she said. “A good percentage of our audience is really into this Japanese animation. And it's very complicated. It's complicated to the point where it's at the stage of a soap opera, that you have to be really in tune.

"It's kind of a reach, but to follow along with these stories and to see what's really going on takes a lot of thought. I get lost in it sometimes."

She doesn't see a lot of sexual innuendo in children's shows — at least not on YTV. And she says the violent content has become relatively benign.

"Even in stuff like Powerpuff Girls, there's some fighting, but it's very light-hearted," she said. "Children's television is definitely moving in a very positive direction."

But she adds that parents aren't off the hook when it comes to supervising their children's viewing.

"Why not sit down with your kids, see what they're watching?” she asked. “Really, it's the parents' decision. It's not up to the people at Hit List or up to me or anybody else but the parent."

Music in Sugar's future
At the end of the afternoon at YTV, Sugar heads out for a couple of hours of auditions and cartoon voice-work. After that, it's schmoozing with industry people, making and developing contacts.

"I don't even consider it partying," she said. "I consider it business. It's networking."
She says she crashes at her sister's house downtown most nights, because she just can't make it home to her parents'. Her hours are just too long.

"That part is tough, but it's just part of the deal," she said. "I miss everybody, and I miss my mum and dad, because I don't get to see them as often as I'd like. But it's so worth it, and I know it's all going to the right place."

And, increasingly, that place is the music industry.

"I had the opportunity to record music at KISS, which was the I'm the Real Suga Baybee song. It just blew me away how incredible the response was from recording music and how much fun it was," she recalled. Now, she added, "I have a lot of friends who are in the music industry, and a few friends that are producers, and they've been teaching me the ropes."

Sugar fronts the network’s in-house band, Nuclear Donkey, which recorded “Gotta Get Out” for the YTV Big Fun Party Mix 3 CD. But she thinks her own future probably lies more in producing than in singing.

"I could never hit a huge high note or I could never hit a real low note, but I can carry a tune. I more see myself finding an artist."

Dreams and aspirations
Besides television, she said, "What I'm working towards is movies and music." It may be hard to imagine, given her bubbly persona, but Sugar also hopes to become a dramatic actress. And she's not against crossing the border for work. She says she's already had offers from the U.S.

"The States have come around," she said. "My ultimate dream would be to be able to live in Canada and also work with the States. The thing is, with this business, sometimes you have to go to the States."

And, for this mini-media-mogul who hasn't yet attended college, furthering her education remains another goal.

"I think learning is a very important part of life,” she said. “If I have the opportunity and I can afford it, I'm definitely, definitely going back to school.... I'm going to take some more arts."

Her advice for those young people who might want to follow in her footsteps?

"I think that they should find what they love to do." After that, she said, "Really dedicate yourself.... Trying is one of the most important parts of life.

"But always have fun and be happy. A lot of people try too hard. When you lose the fun of what you're doing, it's just not worth it anymore."

—Observer staff
(Files from Amanda Cogan
and Jackie Cogan)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

In Solidarity

We here at Moon Chase! are joining all of the other bloggers in solidarity with the Writers Guild of America. Writers are the unsung heroes behind the shows and movies that we all enjoy. But rarely do you ever get to know who they are, aside from a passing name on the screen. Sure you see the stars playing your favorite characters but you never see who made them that way. They are an essential and crucial part to making these forms of media work and with the advent of new media delivery such as paid downloads on iTunes or free broadcasts by the networks, we are sad to see that they are not being compensated for it. We believe that since the writers are responsible for such a paramount part of a work, that they should be compensated for their work in all forms that they are released in. We’ve had similar incidents since this site opened where other sites have taken our work and posted it without giving credit. The sad part is we spent HOURS researching those articles and it’s not fair to us when another site copies and pastes our stuff over and we never see those people reading where the article originally came from. Likewise when a movie is released on DVD, producers and casts probably see a lot more of those profits than the writers do. We understand their troubles wholeheartedly and though production on many shows has been halted for the timebeing, we hope that there is an amicable resolution that is fair to the WGA. Without the writers, we would not have the movies and shows that we all love today. For those looking for more information on what is going on inside the strike lines, you should check out United Hollywood for updates.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Few Changes Are Being Planned!

Hey Moonies: We staffers have decided to take advantage of this long weekend to make a few organizational changes to this newsblog. We actually get a lot of site feedback from people we know offline (yes, that means away from the computer and in the real world!) and one of them this week told us that it's hard to find certain things on the website and that we would probably benefit from a site menu. We are going to work at that and hopefully get that up in a couple days. In light of this reorganization, some of the videos have shuffled on Veoh. Instead of having clips of various stars of any Japanese incarnation simply go on the Moon Chase Clips channel, we have renamed the VA channel to include the Japanese Stars as well. Now the Stephanie Beard clips are no longer lonely in that channel! The sidebars will still stay but the menu at the top will be there for convenience. We will also be adding a couple posts but we are going to back post them to the beginning of March. These posts will have things like links etc. on a separate "page" so you don't have to sort through the pile of links on the sidebars. If any of you have suggestions for ways we could improve this site, or things that you would like to see , please don't hesitate to contact us at We're not scary beasts with claws and fangs!

As far as Veoh goes, we finally heard back from one of their management a few days ago. They solved the problem but it only lasted for one day - Friday morning the spam had returned and there was no way to get rid of it, yet again. The bots even broke through some videos that we had turned off the ability to post comments on.

OFF TOPIC: Speaking of Stephanie Beard we've noticed a lot of chatter on her official site as well as others wondering where she is. We have heard from her, and we're asking fans to have some more patience, she is very busy in California with her entertainment career. If we could help her out more, we would in a heartbeat. Though there is a VA update planned for this week and we're going to dig in our vault for some old Stephanie Beard articles for all of you who need a Sugar fix!

Friday, November 09, 2007

News From The Other Side of The Pond #10!

This tenth entry is quite large, as we’ve found quite a few sightings of stars from the anime and the live action so brace yourselves!

New Keiko Kitagawa Commercials Soon!

Who would have thought that Keiko Kitagawa (PGSM Sailor Mars) would be one of the hottest stars in Japanese entertainment today? Her new drama Mop Girl is doing very well in Japan and now can be seen in commercials for several different products! Just recently NTT DoCoMo announced some new models of their FOMA 705i and 905i and that the cast of the DoCoMo 2.0 commercials from last summer will be returning to promote these new commercials. To refresh your memory, the DoCoMo 2.0 included such idol heavyweights alongside Keiko Kitagawa, such as singers Anna Tsuchiya and Tomoya Nagase. We are definitely going to keep our eyes peeled for this new set of commercials! We have also learned that Keiko Kitagawa is going to be one of the new faces of Coffret D’Or (Translation: Gold Treasure Box) , a new line of shimmering pink and champagne gold makeup from Japanese cosmetics giant, Kanebo. She was chosen along a few other women, because she represents the "elegance and beauty made ideal from the beholder, flowing from the inside out." This one will be out in December, just in time for the holiday party season! We’ll leave you with this new shot we found of Keiko in a magazine.

An Almost Real-Life Tachikoma!

The Tachikomas are those poor, blue, underappreciated robots from Ghost in the Shell, who have always been there to follow orders from Motoko and Batou and have gotten them out of several sticky situations. But much of the series revolved around the Tachikomas developing their own "Ghosts" or personalities, and every episode had a humorous short featuring these loveable battle machines. In fact, these Tachikomas could probably make the perfect pet if they really existed! Come February of next year, this dream is going to become an almost reality. In Japan, Bandai will be releasing a mini-robot Tachikoma that you can install and hook up to your PC via a USB cable. The robot talks and lights up, and the CD-Rom comes with several games that you can play with your Tachikoma! And providing the voice for the Tachikoma is none other than the voice of the Tachikoma herself, Sakiko Tamagawa! Sakiko’s voice should be familiar to Sailor Moon fans, as she played Elsa Grey in S episode 106, and Princess Kakyuu in Sailor Stars. The robot stands almost 10 cm tall and will cost close to $120, so start saving now!

Kikuko Inoue in New Anime!

The romantic comedy Clannad just started in Japan and Pony Canyon held a big event where nine of the Seiyuu for the show came out to answer a Q&A from fans. Among these was Kikuko Inoue (Sailor Aluminum Siren, Princess Rubina) , who plays Sanae Furukawa in the series. There was a contest where fans had to draw characters and items from the show, and the winner received a case of ramen. The actors apologized for this sorry gift, but noted that this event was about having fun! They all talked about their work on the show and some commented on the exceptional quality of the animation. The anime is about a guy who encounters many girls with strange powers in a kind of dream world which somehow fuses with the real world. Kikuko is on the right in this picture.

Another Masaya Kikawada Interview!

We came across another interview Masaya Kikawada (PGSM Motoki) did to promote the latest Kamen Rider movie. He didn’t say anything too much different in this one compared to the last one - but he did comment on the gap between what was popular when he was younger and what is popular now! And he thinks it can only get even more complex in the future, especially the gap in his acting. He thinks he will do different kinds of acting in the future compared to what he is doing now. He loves acting in dramas but he is scared of acting in soap operas!

And Finally, Rina Koike is Making Her Way in The Idol World!

One of the more bizarre decisions made in PGSM was the humanization of Luna as a young girl (and a senshi). This character was annoying but almost everyone can agree that the actress who played her, Rina Koike, was very cute and talented. She is now 13 years old and is one of the top models at her agency, Very Berry Production. Rina was featured a few days ago on a show in a Pay-Per-View series where she learned about modeling from veteran Gravure (and adult magazine) Idol Yuuri Morishita. We don’t think she is really the right kind of model for Rina to learn from especially since she is a lot more reserved than others. We read that Rina didn’t really feel comfortable with the idea of modeling in her birthday suit. In around a week’s time, a short DVD called Her Friends Are Billion Year Old Ghosts is set for release. This DVD shows her playing the piano and telling some charming children's stories. As of a couple weeks ago, she is also a voice of a character in Mobile Phone Girls, an anime that is just for cell phones starring some genki schoolgirl characters! The picture here is Rina at an announcement for this series last August.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Sailor Moon Inspires Disabled Kids!

This story touched our hearts when we read it. In Japan, there is a sports club in Fukichiyama built for disabled and handicapped people. On November 4th, they held an event for everyone (even if they were not disabled or handicapped) to come out and learn about synchronized swimming. A professional synchro team from Kyoto came to perform and also teach at these workshops. Three childrens’ synchro teams from the club performed as well, and their team names were Cosmos, Water Kids, and Sailor Moon. Though their movements were simple, and some swimmers had to swim with the help of another, they were able to form circles, clap in rhythm, and move their arms. They were very graceful despite their disabilities! Everyone who was there loved to see these kids and they were all overflowing with happiness! This event was meant to promote rehab programs and inspire everyone that no matter what their disability is, they can do far more than they expected. This club was established in 2005, and aimed to advance independence of handicapped and disabled people, as well as giving them a place to participate in activities. The pool opened just last summer, and they began swimming and aquatic activities. It’s always amazing to see that Sailor Moon still has this inspirational presence all over the world and inspires people from all walks of life. So to the children of Fukichiyama handicapped sports club, we salute you for your continued recovery and rehabilitation, and your persistence to not allow barriers and life to stop you from achieving your dreams!

Monday, November 05, 2007

When American Bands Appear on Japanese TV #5

We came across an unexpected find this week! Last time, she appeared on Music Station, this time Avril Lavigne showed up as the Musical Guest on SMAPxSMAP!

After a short segment having a talk with SMAP, she performed two of her new songs accompanied by the boy band. Here are the clips:

Interview portion:

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When You're Gone:

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Breaking News: Sailor Moon Manga Going Out of Print?

And A Creative Manga Sighting in a North American Magazine!

We read this story on the Genvid Forums and we had to investigate. The reprints of the Sailor Moon Manga and books about PGSM are all going out of print with (loosely translated) an undetermined reprint date according to Kodansha. The Manga had gone into reprints in Fall of 2003 to coincide with the premiere of PGSM. Looking at a worst-case scenario, we decided to look at the DVD situation of PGSM and noticed that the DVDs of PGSM are all priced 15% off - which still comes to a hefty $45 per volume (from Bandai Visual). It doesn’t appear those are going out of print any time soon.

But from some stories we have read, perhaps these books going out of print is a normal thing. Even the most popular mangas in Japan aren’t constantly in print, but sometimes the publishers print out enough copies so that they may still be found in Japan. It may be a little harder though for fans outside of Japan to find them online, and short of eBay or looking at Japanese Online Bookstores, we really don’t have any other suggestions. If fans find good online stores, they are more than welcome to post links in our comments section below this post. The Reprint Date TBD that is listed on the bottom of each listing is somewhat relieving as there is some hope that the manga could return. We will try to contact Kodansha soon to confirm whether there is a possibility of the manga’s return in the future, or if it is a done deal. We think it is likely the first case.

In the meantime though, one of our longtime Moon Chase friends, K-Max of K-Max Media pointed this out to us. Wired Magazine is devoted to technology and geek culture, and in this month’s issue did a spread all about the rise of manga in North America. K-Max was also reminded of a spread they did years ago about the futuristic culture in Japan. As expected though, Wired’s spread did have a Sailor sighting in its look at the history of Manga in North America - which was told in manga style! The artist drew a convincing Sailor Moon lookalike when discussing the impact of Sailor Moon on the North American market. The manga does take an interesting look at copyright issues relating to doujinshi and fan manga. Fans can check out some other articles on manga from Wired here, here, here and here.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Commercials Corner #18 and an announcement

Shocking laptops and the art of fruit!

First up is the announcement:

Unfortunately, due to spamming as well as some comment system bugs we are disabling comments on all of our commercials on Veoh. We've determined the likely cause of spam comments we are unable to delete, but the problem will have to be fixed by Veoh themselves and given the amount of time the problem has existed, this doesn't seem likely. We're pretty sure that any comment which includes a link breaks Veoh's comment system as all of the broken comments have this in common.

The flip side of this latest irksome annoyance is that over the holiday season we hope to be moving our videos to a new host: Imeem! Before we commit to this move, we want to make sure there won't be any problems, so for now we'd appreciate your help in checking out the functionality. Please watch the SuperS OP, taken from a search for Sailor Moon on Imeem and make sure you don't have any problems viewing it. You shouldn't need anything different than if your were watching videos on Youtube or Veoh, but we want to make sure.

If you have any problems, visit Imeem's help first and if you still can't get it working, drop us a line at In the meantime, you will still be able to comment directly on Moonchase! so feel free to! And now, onto the commercials!

Picks of the Week:

First up is a commercial for the FMV Biblio Laptop. Its features make the salesperson and then the customer very excited!

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Next, this blender would make a lot of juice for Kagome!

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Finally, a pair of commercials from Visa, taking "you are what you eat" to the next level!

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And now for the rest!
An anti-anxiety pill.
Aquarion Pachinko!
☼ Asience Cosmetics! 1, 2 & 3
☼ Classical Japanese styled cell phone CMs! 1, 2
Kowa cooling gel!
The popular Panasonic Viera!
Daikin air conditioners.. in the Winter?!
Fiora home decor!
Gerolsteiner Sparkling Water!
Hitachi DVD and HD camcorders!
Kirin Sparkle Cocktails!
Lotte Fruit Bars!
☼ New DoCoMo 2.0 CMs! 1, 2
Nissin Freedom Project!
Nissin Miso Queen!
☼ Two new SoftBank CMs with Brad Pitt! 1, 2
☼ And another two from SoftBank! 1, 2
Tokyo Station City Wonderland!
A doubleheader Suzuki Commercial!
Toyota Vitz + Maroon 5!
Trailer for Stardust!
Wii Treasure Island game!
DoCoMo 2.0 at work!
Lux Shampoo and Conditioner!
New DS Mystery Game!
Epson Preamio TV and DVD projector!
Niisan Note!
PureVision Contacts from Bausch & Lomb!
The Brave One trailer!
The Invasion trailer!
Sapporo Draft One Beer!
Georgia Vintage Label Coffee!
X-trail Jam at the Tokyo Dome!
The new Final fantasy Tactics A2!
Carat Cat food!
Brother Justio Printer!
Contac Sinus medicine!
7-11 Bentos!
Alex Rider Trailer!
Mitsubishi Gallant!
Astoria Premier Coffee!
Sunstar Gum!
Bourne Ultimatum trailer!
A doubleheader for the Suzuki Lapin and Wit!

Mop Girl Episode 4!

This episode was so deep and complex this week that we’re going to have to watch it a few more times before we grasp it all. This week’s story: a Mangaka and her brother are killed just after her manga about a Knight who protects a Queen makes its debut. Momoko’s (played by Keiko Kitagawa , or PGSM Sailor Mars) visions appear and her day rewinds as she picks up a stray chess piece - specifically the knight, that belonged to the Mangaka. She thinks there might be a witness at a Maid Café in Tokyo, so she goes over there to investigate. Unfortunately, the owner of the café finds her and coaxes her into working for him, and this is the clip we have uploaded as this week’s "Momoko Moment"! After that things get a little fuzzy, we have a feeling that there was a little jealousy from the Mangaka’s brother. In any case, Momoko’s plan to save the day goes awry when someone who didn’t deserve to die is killed in the end. Though she is comforted by the sibling’s mother, Momoko still bursts out into tears at the end as she hands her the knight chess piece. We felt sad and sorry for Momoko as she had tried to keep everyone alive, but in the end she couldn’t, and blames herself for something that really wasn’t her fault. This is the best episode that we have seen of Mop Girl so far.

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Breaking (And Disturbing) News: What is Really Going On Behind the Doors of Dentsu?

More tragic news from Dentsu. We came across a very creepy story out of Japan last night, about a lawsuit that involves Geneon’s Parent Company, Dentsu, as well as an ousted former Creative Director of their US offices.

We’re going to warn you now not to click the link below to read the rest of this story if you are under the age of 18. The content of this lawsuit is very mature and x-rated.

It seems Dentsu likes to party - in a very perverse way. And they subject their employees to go along with them. Steven Biegel was the creative director of Dentsu’s USA branch for three years, in which he was responsible for developing television, radio, print and outdoor advertisements for many of the agency’s most important clients, including Canon. In 2004, he was sent to Prague for a commercial for Canon, where some of the Japanese executives told him to come out with them tonight, and didn’t say where they were going. The executives allegedly took him to a brothel. Eventually there were some other "celebrations" of this nature which Biegel refused to participate in , and he believes he was fired because of this. Fans wanting to read more of the gory and gross details of this lawsuit can go here to read some of the released court documents.

Again, we haven’t confirmed if this is really true or just a bitter executive’s attempt to sue a former employer. However, if this is true, and Geneon was still in the anime business, we know we would definitely think twice about picking up another one of their titles.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Rental Magica: Magic without magical girls

The fairly recently new anime series Rental Magica has a connection to Sailor Moon: The Animation Supervisor is Junichi Sato, Director of the first two seasons of Sailor Moon as well as the director of various other bits of the remainder of the series.

The show is about a group of magicians known as Astral. Lead by their president Itsuki Iba, who happens to be quite a coward. They're trying to stay afloat as a company by bidding on jobs offered to the magical community as well as individuals seeking their services. Astral represents several branches of magic, from Honami who practices Celtic magic, to Mikan and Ren Nekoyashiki, practicing the Japanese arts of Shinto and Onmyoudou respectively. Though Itsuki has no training, because of an incident in his youth, his normally covered right eye has magical properties that he can unleash when he needs to, though at the cost of tending to collapse (at least) when the job is done.

After the first episode, the next three appear to be flashbacks, setting up the character relationships, though without any kind of warning given, this was a bit confusing at first. As a complete departure from magical girl style magic, this series is an interesting mix of International magical myths and is worth a look.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Introducing Kawaii Jenny!

This sighting is only peripherally related to Sailor Moon. One of the writers on this show (Yoshio Urasawa) wrote the scripts for last summer’s short-lived Bishoujo Celeb Panchanne, which was based on Bishoujo Kamen Poitrine, which served as a major influence on Naoko Takeuchi’s Sailor V (and eventually Sailor Moon). But since it looked so hilarious, we had to share it with you all!

One of the more popular shows that we write about on this blog occasionally, Robot Chicken, uses what’s known as Stop-Motion Animation - basically taking several pictures of objects which are moved by hand. For example, say you wanted to make a cartoon involving one of your old-school Irwin Sailor Moon dolls. If you wanted to make it walk, you would take one picture of it standing, then move one leg, take a picture of that one, move the other leg, take a picture, and so on and so forth. It’s no surprise then that the episodes of Robot Chicken are only 15 minutes long, especially given all the "blabbing" or talking effects that they add in addition to moving, and of course, the special effects. In Japan, Yahoo! is streaming a cartoon which uses the same technique called Kawaii JenNy! Kawaii JenNy is about three dolls who are kidnapped by teddy bears while auditioning to become models. They encounter a robotic dog who transforms them into the Sweet Angels, magical girls who have a sweet tooth. And of course, they always save the day! There are a lot of similarities to Sailor Moon in this show. The show is produced by Takara-Tomy, one of Japan's leading toy companies.

This show is too funny and luckily for those of us not in Japan, they are on YouTube (for now). And they are even fansubbed - something that is a little harder to find for live action shows than it is for anime. So here come the links!

Raw Trailer
Episodes 1+2 Part 1
Episodes 1+2 Part 2
Episodes 1+2 Part 3
Episodes 3+4 Part 1
Episodes 3+4 Part 2
Episodes 3+4 Part 3

The doll that they use in this show is the Takara Jenny doll made by Takara-Tomy. Jenny was known as Takara Barbie from 1982-1986, until Takara's partnership with Mattel ended. Jenny is popular in Japan, but not as popular as Takara's other longtime favorite, Licca-chan, Mattel's Barbie, or (surprise, surprise -_-) Bratz. For fans interested in seeing what happens behind the scenes , the official show's blog can be read here.