Monday, June 27, 2011
Fans may recall that John Stocker directed episodes in the Sailor Moon television series (during seasons R, S, and SuperS) as well as the movies (Sailor Moon R Movie: Promise of the Rose, Sailor Moon S Movie: Hearts in Ice, and Sailor Moon SuperS Movie: Black Dream Hole).
A selection of some of the other titles John has been involved with are listed on his guest page on the FanExpo website. If you check out the list of anime guest stars at the convention this year, John is named under "American Voice Stars." His website has more details about his voice acting and other talents.
If you're also interested in other guests at the convention this year, the line-up of sci-fi featured guests is here. And the comic book guests are listed here. There are also Horror and Gaming guests and events.
Readers interested in attending FanExpo this year can find ticket information here. The convention has been extended to four days this year (August 25th - 28th) and will be held in the entire south building of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. We hope that the expanded location will help alleviate the crowding issues experienced in recent years. The FanExpo website also indicates that there will be a limited number of deluxe passes available. Although no total number is listed for the deluxe passes, the convention organizers note that the deluxe passes will be sold on a first-come, first-serve basis until sold out.
(photo from John Stocker's website)
Monday, June 20, 2011
PGSM fans, mark your calendars! On September 22nd, a boxset of the entire PGSM series is set to be released in Japan. For those fans who are unaware, PGSM stands for Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon and is the live action version of Sailor Moon which aired on Japanese television from 2003-2004. An article at Animate.tv has a couple reasons for why they think this boxset is being released. The first is that many of the stars (most notably Keiko Kitagawa who played Sailor Mars) have gone on to bigger and better things in their acting careers. The second, is that some of the new generation of fans have never seen a live action version of Sailor Moon on TV. The timing of this release is perfect given the anime's revival which is happening around the world. The boxset will include all 49 episodes, the two specials (Special Act and Act Zero), and Kirari Super Live - a live event in almost the same vein as the Sera Myu musicals, starring the cast of PGSM. All other extras included on the initial release will also be included. No word as of this writing if Super Dance Lesson will also be included. This dance lesson was part of a special offer, and fans had to fill out an application included with only certain magazines many years ago to get a copy. The boxset is currently on preorder at Amazon.jp and will cost ￥23,210 before shipping (roughly $290 USD).
Thursday, June 16, 2011
By now readers have likely read through my previously posted convention coverage. I reported on a variety of events to give a well-rounded view of the convention and I hope our readers have enjoyed it!
In this final post of convention coverage, I'll talk about a few of the other events I attended more briefly than the previous posts (which is why I'm putting a few together in this one). For any readers who did get to check out Sakura Con first-hand, we hope you had a great time!
On Friday afternoon, I met with a group of Sailor Moon cosplayers for a "Sailor Moon Picnic." It was a lot of fun to participate in a Sailor Moon photo shoot! I got quite a few photos of me cosplaying Princess Jupiter taken with a Sailor Jupiter and some other cosplayers. It was this photoshoot that was one of the major reasons I decided to wear my costume all day on Friday. My costume also met the masquerade guidelines and was something I wanted to wear for the Sailor Moon panel.
In the evening, just before heading to the Sailor Moon panel I was leading, my boyfriend and I went to the masquerade ball for a short time. It was nice, but the song choices gave it a high school dance kind of feel, since there were a bunch of popular dance songs played while we were there. The selection did not include many slow songs, nor did we hear many j-pop or anime related songs. Last year it was mostly slow songs, so it was really nice for couples and gave those who checked out the waltz lessons a chance to try out what they learned. I would have liked to hear more anime, j-pop, and video game songs this year as well, since it was an anime convention. Those don't tend to be played in public very much, but the latest pop songs are heard everywhere. It seemed like there were a lot more people dancing this year though, so the change appears to have been a good thing overall!
On Sunday morning, the first thing I attended was the Kotono Mistsuishi and Dreamcatchers event. Although the title of the event as written in the pocket programming guide listed Kotono's name first, she was actually only on-stage for the last twenty minutes of the event. Some audience members obviously grew tired of waiting and left early, before she was called up on stage. The majority of this event was comprised of skits by the "Dreamcatchers" that coincided with some anime clips from properties I didn't recognize (the titles of the anime that these clips were from were not revealed at the event). This portion of the event was plagued with technical difficulties, and one of the skits was re-done in its entirety, although the only problem they had for that skit was during a live song performance. The skits did not seem very well rehearsed overall, and the fight scenes seemed a bit lacking in choreography as well. Some performers visibly showed hesitation during sword fights, which wasn't particularly entertaining to watch. Although I understand the importance of safety during sequences like this, perhaps additional practice and choreography could have made for a more interesting performance. The anime and skit sequences didn't seem to have any correlation to Kotono Mitsuishi that myself and at least some other audience members could discern. If anyone knows what anime the different clips were from, please share the details in the comments!
When Kotono was finally on stage, she was asked to do some live dubbing of scenes from a variety of her past anime roles. This seemed a little awkward, since the scene would be played in original, usually without English subtitles, and then the scene would be played again while Kotono voiced her role but all other audio was muted. Kotono did a good job, even approximating the "echo" of one of Boa Hancock's lines at the end of one of these scenes. Unfortunately, it was a little hard to understand for those of us in the audience who don't speak Japanese. English subtitles would have been helpful on all the clips so that more fans could understand the demonstration more clearly.
To close the show, Kotono sang "Moonlight Densetsu," accompanied by a live band and the Dreamcatchers who also sang along. With so many voices singing, and the band being a bit loud in comparison to the vocals, it was difficult to hear Kotono's voice among the rest (we were seated near the front, so the sound may have been more intense that close). The event ended with a disappointing apology from one of the Dreamcatchers, claiming that they had planned a two hour show, but didn't realize they were going to have a one hour time-slot. This meant that a competition that Kotono was going to judge had to be cut.
Later, people complained about this event (perhaps you've already seen some comments on other websites?); regarding the timing and how short Kotono's appearance was.
My boyfriend e-mailed convention staff to say that we were disappointed with some of the technical difficulties this year, while also mentioning that we were highly impressed last year with how smoothly everything went. He also asked about the Dreamcatchers event. The convention representative who responded indicated that there was some faulty equipment that will be replaced before next year's convention. Also, the representative stated that the Dreamcatchers were told on multiple occasions how much time was actually allotted to them. Convention staff tried to give them extra time, but they were not willing to set back other events in the same room because of an oversight by the Dreamcatchers.
I think it's worth noting that the pocket guide schedule was released on April 7th, a full 15 days prior to the convention. As a panelist, I made a point of looking out for the schedule to verify when the panel would be and how much time I was allotted. It's strange to me that the Dreamcatchers made it seem as if convention staff was responsible for there not being enough time, when the timing details were released in advance and they should have modified their event if there were unexpected discrepancies; instead of unprofessionally blaming convention staff. I must admit, I was disappointed in the event to the extent that I felt it would have been much better for me to attend something else instead. It may seem harsh, but if I see Dreamcatchers listed in the programming guide of a future convention, I'll choose to miss their performance.
Unfortunately, the Dark Horse Industry panel was scheduled at the same time, so I was unable to catch it. Sorry about that one readers, but I'm sure they have a list of newly released and upcoming titles on their website!
Sailor Moon Trading Cards. A few of the card fronts, a card back, and the package.
A view of all the card front is available in an alternate photo.
One of the other events I managed to catch a portion of on Sunday, after lunch, was the "State of the Industry" panel, which had representatives of Funimation, Bandai, Dark Horse, and MGS. One of the major topics of discussion during this panel was the problem of piracy and how it hurts the anime industry. Companies are currently making efforts to lessen piracy and illegal downloads, but there is no expectation that piracy will disappear any time soon. The panelists even indicated that they expect piracy to always be a problem in some form.
Panelists encouraged the audience to use legal methods of viewing anime such as authorized streaming and simulcasts (many of these are free, but ad-supported). There are also companies who sell combo releases of Blu-Ray and DVD together. Costs are able to go down for these items as they take up less shelf space while offering multiple viewing options for buyers. It seems to be just one of various efforts being made to keep anime affordable, in order to encourage ownership and reduce piracy.
Regarding e-manga, there is currently no simulcasting type efforts in place for manga series. However, Dark Horse is interested in having releases online sooner and making efforts to find a way for faster online publishing to become a reality.
My boyfriend and I had to leave the convention early (it was Easter weekend and we had plans with family) so we did not catch the closing ceremonies this time around. All in all it was a great convention experience. Although there were some technical difficulties, staff was great about dealing with issues as fast as possible. I have seen things get much worse at other events when there were unexpected (or sometimes even plausibly expected) issues that had to be addressed for a safe and pleasant convention experience. I'm quite glad that Sakura Con staff shows that they care about having events run as smoothly as possible by dealing with any unforeseen issues quickly and professionally.
It's also encouraging to know that faulty equipment will be replaced before next year, to ensure things run even more smoothly. I've only been to Sakura Con twice now, but I have to admit it's one of my favourite conventions to attend. There's an awesome variety of events, a large dealers' room with a plethora of items to entice fans, and you get to see some of the most interesting costumes - from anime to video games to Disney princesses. It was also exciting to lead the Sailor Moon panel, despite my initial nervousness in front of a large crowd. I plan to be on more Sailor Moon (and other!) panels in the future. It's a fun way to interact with fans.
Here's hoping I see more readers at future conventions. And maybe I'll make it to Sakura Con next year too!
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
There isn't a lot happening in the Sailor Moon world right now, but for those of you who are craving the revival through a fan's perspective in Japan, I recommend you check out the blog "Moon Light". I've been following this blog for a while now, as this blogger was one of the few that blogged about her experience at the DVD Collection Launch Event in December of 2009. She was also there at Anza Ooyama's recent concert, and just visited the Toei Animation Gallery and has lots of photos of the cels there (Sailor Moon and Pretty Cure included) as well as figures. Kind of a neat blog to check out for anyone who wants to know what the fans in Japan are experiencing!
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
We read about this a long time ago, but we wanted to wait till there was official word before we posted it. Yoshihiro Togashi's Hunter X Hunter is set to return with two new published tankobon/volumes in July and August. #28 is scheduled for release on July 4th, and #29 on August the 4th. While the series seems like it has been going on forever (since March of 1998), fans aren't going to get anything new in these two volumes. There are 20 chapters which appeared in Jump over a year ago, and these will appear in the volumes. As of this writing, there is no word on whether the manga will finally have an ending or new chapters published in Jump. Togashi's most recent work were a drawing and message in support of victims of the Earthquake last March.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Konichiwa fellow Moonies!
So, as many of you heard on Moon Chase’s Facebook, Tohru Furuya, the voice of Tuxedo Kamen, was at FanimeCon out here in semi-sunny California over Memorial Day. Being a fan of the site, and noticing the lack of West Coast news, I made a point of going to both of his panels in an attempt to get the community the latest news straight from ToFu’s mouth. (This was actually harder than is sounds because I’m Fanime staff, not just an attendee.)
I will ask your forgiveness right now for the horrible pictures my phone shot. It’s all I have.
To kick off the convention at opening ceremonies on Friday, the Fanime Chair Team presented the Consul General of Japan a symbolic gift of 1000 paper cranes as a representation of our good wishes for Japan after their earthquake and tsunami back in March. After this was a steady flow of our Guests of Honor, which included the band FLOW, singer Halko Momo-i, artist and character designer Mamoru Yokota, and of course, our favorite Tohru Furuya.
Furuya-san is first of all a great showman. He knows exactly what his fans are here for, and immediately started throwing out lines from the various characters he has played in his lengthy career. For those that don’t know, Furuya-san is also the voice of Yamucha from Dragonball, Pegasus Seiya from Saint Seiya, and Amuro Ray from the original MS Gundam. It’s safe to say that the fans went wild as he did this.
I next saw Furuya-san the next day, not at his first panel, but at the invitation-only GoH meet-and-greet called the Yamaga Party. (Called so because it is usually hosted by one of our regular guests, Hiroyuki Yamaga of the animation studio Gainax, although due to an emergency Yamaga-san could not make the convention this year.) How this worked was that each GoH in attendance had their own table, and the invited fans sat with them for about ten minutes each to ask questions and actually talk with the guest. Furuya-san was the only guest that asked for the names of each fan at his table, and when that happens, you get him asking my friend Mike where he got that Italian Saint Seiya shirt he’s wearing. Which I am sure he wore just for that purpose.
Furuya-san’s panel Saturday afternoon was the standard Q&A panel. There were a lot of questions and voice requests from his well known series (mostly Gundam), but I got a few surprises out of him. His favorite role is that of Kyosuke Kasuga from Kimagure Orange Road, which I haven’t seen but happens to be a favorite of some of my older Otaku friends. He also mentioned that his most difficult role was from the Satoshi Kon movie Paprika, where he played the 400+lb Dr. Kosaku Tokita. He said he wasn’t sure he could match his voice to such a large person, but the director said to try and channel his inner child. Apparently his inner child is Amuro Ray, haha.
Of interest to us Moonies, Furuya-san was asked how he got the role of Tuxedo Kamen. The biggest reason was that the studio wanted an experienced seiyu on the cast, of which many of the Sailor Scouts were first-timers. He said that at first he thought that Tuxedo Kamen was a magician:
"Then I asked his name. And it was exactly like it said it was."
He was also asked about an apparent reunion of the Sailor Moon cast in Japan recently, and if that meant there would be more work on Sailor Moon. He said there may be another reunion in the future, but that he didn’t think there would be much else.
The next panel Sunday morning was a bit different. This was also supposed to be a standard Q&A, but boy was it more entertaining. I should have guessed it would be, since a 10 am panel generally means that the die-hard fans are in attendance. Friends, if there is a Sailor Moon cosplayer in the room, and Furuya-san gets a request to reenact a scene from our favorite series, what you get is a live show in the front of the panel room, complete with bad guy, rose, and "Moon Healing Escalation". I’ve never had so much fun at a panel.
Later on that afternoon, Furuya-san had a special autograph session before he left the convention. He had been selling a Fanime exclusive (at the time) clear file with his photograph, and part of the sales were to go to relief efforts in Japan. If you bought one (or in my case two) you were invited to this special autograph session where he would personalize his autograph specifically for you on the clear file. That didn’t stop people from bringing other things for him to sign.
From what I heard from our Guest Relations person, Furuya-san really enjoyed the convention and meeting all his fans here. This makes me hope to see him again in the future.
For those of you who couldn’t make it to Fanime, I hope this article made up for it. It’s not the best way to enjoy a convention, but I at least hope I transferred some of the awesome I experienced on to you that read this.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Moon Chase is glad to report another Sailor Moon sighting, this one coming from a brand new light-hearted lawyer/comedy primetime show on TNT called “Franklin and Bash”. In the show’s second episode, titled “She Came Upstairs To Kill Me”, there was a reference to Setsuna Meioh/Sailor Pluto, courtesy of Pindar Singh (played by Kumail Nanjiani). The reference occurs about 5 minutes into the episode, with the conversation in the scene quickly turning to the topic of hottest female animated characters:
Jared Franklin: If you met Isabella, you would feel differently. Isabelle is just like Jessica Rabbit – she’s not bad, she’s just drawn that way.
Peter Bash: Jessica Rabbit – hottest cartoon character ever?
Jared Franklin: I prefer Betty Rubble.
Peter Bash: Really?
Jared Franklin: Yeah.
Pindar Singh: Neither of those hold a candle to Setsuna Meioh.
*awkward silence by Jared Franklin and Peter Bash *
Pindar Singh: The guardian of the space and the time door in the Sailor Moon manga?
While Jessica Rabbit and Betty Rubble are household names in the world of comics and animation, special applause must be handed out to the writing staff at “Franklin and Bash” for referencing a character that is likely only known by diehard fans of Sailor Moon. When you consider the level of inactivity associated with Sailor Moon in North America, it is sightings like this one that encourages and reminds Sailor Moon fans just how much of an imprint that the show has had on pop culture in North America (a special thank you to K-Chan for e-mailing this to us).
Wednesday, June 08, 2011
Hey Moonies! Breaking on Toei Animation Europe’s website on Monday was the news that the complete Sailor Moon series is on its way to Kazakhstan! The Kazakhstani company Kino Company via the Eastern European Country (EEC) Territory Plus Licens will soon approach free television channels in Kazakhstan to propose the entire series. Though this release was short, it left us with some questions, and we will keep you posted if we learn any more. We did a little digging though to find answers around our answers…
1. What channel might they approach with Sailor Moon?
From what we have been able to learn, free Kazakhstani TV consists of channels owned by the Khabar Agency. These channels have some kind of ruling influence from President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s daughter, Dariga Nazarbayeva. We poked around at the program listings and it seems that all animation on this channel is Kazakhstani (or based on their culture). There is no sign of any other cartoons from anywhere else on these channels. These channels are largely devoted to news, sports, and Kazakhstani drama, lifestyle and reality shows. Something tells us these might not be good candidates for the show. We did find another channel digital service provider, and this is Alma TV. Alma TV carries Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Nickelodeon, and others on their “Kids” channel. We could only spot one anime on the schedule, and that is Bakugan. We wonder if this channel will be the one that is approached with the series. At this time we are unable to confirm if this channel is free or part of a paid specialty service. We would love to hear from our Kazakhstani readers or anyone else who knows anything about TV there.
2. Will this be a new dub?
We do not know for sure, but all signs are pointing towards “possibly”. Some shows in this country air in Russian, so there may be a chance that the existing Russian dub will air. Russian is the second most common language spoken in Kazakhstan, so this does not present a problem to the majority of the population. However, we also read that there is now some anime being dubbed into Kazakh, so just like Israel saw Sailor Moon for the first time in Hebrew recently, it could well be possible that a Kazakh dub could happen. Kino Company, is Kazakhstan’s largest film production company. Though they have only produced a handful of films since 1989, many have been critically acclaimed. In 1994, Kino Company produced their first (and only) full-length animation film called “Dragon’s Island” which was based on classical Japanese literature. The movie won an award at the Ankara International Film Festival in 1994! If this company is successful in their pitch and dubs the series, we think that it is in good hands. That being said…
3. Will there be censorship?
Maybe. While there isn't a whole lot of information about what exactly the Kazakh film censors actually censor, we do know that there does exist some censorship in the country. The government frequently censors news stories. Fans may remember the controversy surrounding the movie Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan from a few years ago. The controversies in the movie caused the government to issue many statements about the inaccuracies portrayed in the film. While the movie was not banned, the government did make a request to 20th Century Fox’s central European distributor Gemini Films, not to distribute the film there. They complied. Many have in turn sought their own copies from other European countries. When looking at the cartoon landscape, it seems mostly male oriented. The only cartoon for girls on Cartoon Network’s schedule is The Life and Times of Juniper Lee. On Nickelodeon, the following shows air: iCarly, Victorious, Dora the Explorer, and Ni Hao Kai-Lan. Now Sailor Moon is a pretty harmless cartoon, all things considered. But the government attitudes surrounding issues of nudity, gender identities, and other perceived controversial issues in the series remains up to debate. We also dug up an old interview from 2008 with Kazakhstan’s Director of the National Art Academy Arystanbek Muhamediuly, where he condemns cartoons like Sailor Moon and Spongebob Squarepants (as well as others by name) and demands there be more cartoons for children based on Kazakhstan’s rich cultural history. It’s a bit of a shaky situation. We invite any fans who know of how productions are censored in Kazakhstan to contact us with what they know!
At the very least, we do know that those in Kazakhstan who have wanted to watch Sailor Moon probably have. We found several Kazakhstani fan-run anime sites that featured episodes and movies streaming for free of the Russian dub, or Japanese version with Russian subtitles. If it comes to their country, it gives them the chance to watch and possibly purchase a legitimate release.
We congratulate Toei Animation Europe, Kino Company, and Plus Licens on this new venture into Kazakhstan with Sailor Moon, and wish them the best of luck on continuing to spread Sailor Moon’s message around the world!
Friday, June 03, 2011
Hey Moonies! I apologize first off for not keeping up with the site. There's been a couple things I've wanted to write about but I was hit with an unexpected tragedy last week that has been rough to deal with. I will return soon, I promise! Anyway, Moonie1995 and I will be presenting a Sailor Moon Panel at Saskatchewan's first ever anime and comics convention, Anime Blitz and Comic Spectacle. This is going to happen tomorrow at 12:45. We will also have a special prize for some lucky fans as well as a chance for you to try Sailor Moon: La Luna Splende for the Nintendo DS. We would love to meet you tomorrow - so feel free to stop by if you are attending!
We ask that fans respect our wishes for no photographs or videos at our panel tomorrow.