The last American fanzine PATLABOR

patlabor_fanzine_cover-380x615Love them or loath them – the Anime blog Colony drop has, for the last 8 years, made a name for itself as a dedicated source for articles and reviews of anime and mange either released in the 80’s and early 90’s, or modern series that were inspired by that period.

This issue, in fact the third of the series that comprise of variously contributed articles concerning classic anime series and culture is the first to cover a specific franchise – in this case Mobile police Patlabor.

The first thing that comes to note is the size of the magazine – coming in at 5.25″ x 8.25″ , compared to 8.25″ x 10.75″ it comes in much smaller than the previous two issues. There’s also the fact that, unlike the previous two that covered a wide number of series and topics, this issue is exclusively focused on the 90s mech series Patlabor and yet only comes in at 54 pages [including 17 pieces of artwork and photography, of which 9 fill out the magazines page count] – that’s not to say that the contributions don’t make up for the shortfall in pages-far from it-as we’ll see shortly.

We open with Anime world order co-host and Otaku USA magazine writer Daryl Surats PATLABORS CONTEMPORARIES, which covers the year of Patlabor’s first appearance into the world [1988] and talks both about the shows that aired [this being the year that Chars counter attack premiered] and the shows that played a seminal role in the genesis of Mobile police Patlabor.

At a time when the anime industry was still reducing female characters to the role of the damsel in distress waiting to be saved by the heroic male character GENDER ROLES IN PATLABOR, by Dave Merril and Shaindle Minuk, covers the complete role reversal that the series undertook – with Noa Iszumi always in the thick of action as a Labor pilot while Asuma Shinohara took the decidedly unmale role as van driver and backup of always stood back. For many fans the most memorable characters of the series were invariably taken by the female characters such as Noah as mentioned, the American-japanese US cop Kanuka Clancy [ played by the late Yō Inoue] supplying more than enough action and general bad-assery than most of the male characters offer – even the hotheaded Ota [he of the “shoot first, shoot again, shoot it some more and THEN ask questions] had to bow down to her.

From gender politics to politics of another kind as the author of “Stray dogs of anime: the films of Mamoru Oshii” Brian Ruh gives us PATLABOR AND THE 226 INCIDENT a piece that covers the attempted armed uprising by members of the Japanese army in 1936, an incident that would not only lead to the military increasing its control over the civilian government, but would become an inspiration for Oshii when creating the second Patlabor movie.

But did you know that the basic plot for that film very nearly became about not labors…But Lupin the 3rd?

In Renato Riviera Rusca’s PATLABOR AND THE LUPIN 3RD MOVIE THAT NEVER WAS we discover that, after Hayo Miyazaki turned down the chance to Direct another Lupin film Mamoru Oshii was tapped to take over the project, even bringing in A-list talent such as Yoshitaka Amano [Gatchaman, Vampire hunter D, god knows how many final fantasy art pieces] as character designer, Studio Gainaxs’ Hideaki Anno as a key animator and Kazuyoshi Katayama [Space Adventure Cobra: The Movie, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, the big O and many others] as assistant director.

So why did this project get pulled, and how did it end up as the film we all know and… well mostly love?

From one project that never came to be to one that many wished had never happened as Matt Schley Gives us the rather spoilery THE NEXT GENERATION – PATLABOR: A THING THAT EXISTS [WE DONT GET IT EITHER] which covers the afore mentioned 2013 live action series that tried to reinvigorate the franchise – and instead ending up crashing and burning.

Wrapping up the fanzine is GHOSTS OF FUKUSHIMA, by Ian Martin, a contemporary story which moves quickly from the streets of Tokyo to the abandoned towns and countryside of Fukushima’s irradiated dead zone, an area of about five mile around the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear reactor cordoned off after the Tsunami of 2011, as police detective and Series regular Takahiro Matsui investigates a spate of Construction labor thefts, and uncovers much more…

So, after looking into this release how does it measure up? Welll……

The first key problem is one I’ve covered earlier is that with only 37 of the 54 pages of this issue not comprised of artwork it leaves very little page-count for these articles – the longest is that of the short story with 12 pages, with the 226 article [the one that should have had more pages to fully cover the events of that time period that lead to the incident and its after effects] only getting 4 pages, which in my opinion results in them suffering for it.

The other is the method of publication itself – in a time where many publications are now beginning [or have already made] the move to a digital format – Colony drop insisting that this [and all of the last fanzines future issues] would be only available as physical publications I feel is a move that, while I’m sure is intended to invoke “the good old days” of the fanzine, seems to only come across as more of a deliberate intent to refuse to move on from the 80’s.

Finally here is the entry level of the readership for this issue – with no “idiots guide” – like introduction to the franchise it’s expected that the reader has at least a working knowledge of Patlabor, if not at least access to the series.

And so I find myself at an impasse – on the one hand there’s the side of me that’s been the fan of Patlabor for the longest time [even thought my introduction was via Manga UK’S release of the two Patlabor movies] and so as a fan I found this to be an enlightening and [albeit abridged] read. However its my side as a reviewer that make me hesitant about recommending this release – maybe its the fact that this release is clearly intended if not for the hard core Patlabor fan, than for someone who is new to the franchise. It could be that the articles, as interesting as they are, fail to deliver any more than a mere surface level coverage of the series, leaving me at times flipping through the pages of each entry asking “what, is that it?”.

So what do I say? Go into this if your a fan, but don’t go into this expecting anything but the most bare bones of articles.

Both this and all issues of The last American fanzine are available as print on demand from Mag Cloud.

Official Osamu Tezuka Youtube page

Yes im still alive [cold not withstanding – sniffle]
I was just wandering around youtube and stumbled onto an officially licensed partner channel by a company called Viki who are streaming Osamu Tezuka anime series, both old and new, and they’re planning to add new episodes of Tezuka’s anime back catalogue every week.

So far the page is streaming:

Legend of Moby dick
Underseas super train:marine express
Bagi the monster of mighty nature
Astro boy [the 1980s series]
Dear brother [Oniisama e]
Jungle Emperor Leo : The Movie
Black Jack TV
Black Jack [OVA]
The New Adventures of Kimba the White Lion
Marvelous Melmo (Merumo)
Don Dracula 8 videos | 1 month ago
Black Jack 21

heres a link to the youtube page in question.
and also a link to the anime section of vikis own website, where they have even more Tezuka titles than what they’re streaming on the youtube page.

In memorium: Noboru Ishiguro

 

24 August 1938 – 20 March 2012

What kind of place does Yamato occupy in you?

It was a pivotal point in my career. Yamato drastically changed my thoughts on what could be done with animation. Before Yamato, it had been said that SF titles would not catch on, and I believed it. But Yamato overcame such thinking in a positive way and changed my mind. It made me confident, and for this reason, Yamato is a very memorable work. 

On the 20th of March 2012 the last of the 3 three men [ Osamu Tezuka, Noboru Ishiguro and Yoshinobu Nishizaki] who introduced me into anime passed away.

Today the world of anime seemed that little more quieter for his loss.

Yamato 2199: Yamato 2.0?

Sooo, apparently there’s going to be a remake of Space battle ship Yamato.

But it’s not another movie ala Resurrection.

And it’s Not another spin off ala Yamato 2520.

but an actual, Honest to god remake of the first series, with Yutaka Izubuchi (RahXephon) as director, Nobuteru Yuki (Escaflowne, Record of Lodoss War) designing the characters, Makoto Kobayashi (Giant Robo, Last Exile, Space Battleship Yamato Resurrection) Mechanical designs and both anime studios XEBEC and AIC handling production.

Could this be the series that finally brings Yamato back from the long slump of failed sequels that have plagued this franchise – or is this fated to simply disappear beneath the waves?
Oh greats god of anime -please,PPPLLLEEEAAASSSEEE dont let this suck.

Myself and the world will find out when This new Yamato series premieres with a feature length movie, comprising the first 2 episodes of the series, on April 7 2012 in Japan.
for more details you can go to their website Yamato2199.net

In memorium: Kawai Eri

1965 - 2008

On August 4th 2008 a 43 year old woman, who had recently been admitted into a Japanese hospital, quietly passed away, with little ceremony, and only her closest friends and family at her bedside.

On any other day this event, although tragic, would have been an all too common occurrence.

But it was who it was, and just what an effect her death had on anime fandom [and also to me] that gave this event a much greater gravitas.

Her name was Kawai Eri, and this was her all too brief life.

Born in 1965 in Tokyo Kawai Eri graduated from the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in 1983 and wrote and performed both classical and contemporary music. In 1991 she successfully gained a singing contract with Kitty Records. Her first album, for the Fuji TV series “the adventure of Wordsworth”, was released in 1996, and was soon followed by other album collections.

However it was for her anime soundtracks that she will be both respected and remembered for. I can remember the first time I was introduced to her – it was whilst watching Aria: the animation, and I watching an episode that highlighted a character called Athena Glory as she performed a solo song called “barcarolle”

What blew me away about this rendition was the sheer passion that Kawai put into her performance – and indeed may of her testify to this.

Less known is that she also wrote the lyrics for Aria’s OP song, Undine, and she would later go on to both perform and write lyrics for songs for other anime series, such a Sketchbook ~full color’S~ [which she worked on with the band choro club, a band who she had also worked with on Aria], Bamboo blade, Utawarerumono, Ruronin Kenshin, Fate/stay night, the movie adaptation of AIR and [amazingly] Crayon shin chan.

However in July of 2008 kawai was forced to cancel a concert and some recording sessions due to ill health and less that a month later she had died, the cause of death confirmed as liver cancer.

In 2008 and 2009 a series of tribute CD albums were released. One, called “Sunflower” covered many of the anime series soundtracks she worked on. The other 2, “Memorial to the way the wind” and “oriental green” covered her other works, and included some of her previously unpublished work and tracks that she could not finish prior to her death.

Even though its been 3 years after her death I cannot help but feel that the anime community, and indeed the music world in general, has lost a rare talent – but I, and many fans of her work, will ensure that she wont be forgotten.

Anime news dump

i was going to be putting up a review about Full metal alchemist creator Arakawa Hiromu’s new series silver spoon, but some recent news items have convinced me to do a quick news item – with varying degrees of win.

good news for all those Gundam© fans that have been wailing and nashing their teeth about Sunrise’ newest cashcow gundam AGE [even though it hasnt been released yet]
despite Bandi channel announcing a new sereiews on Saturday early recievers of The August issue of Kadokawa Shoten’s Monthly Gundam Ace magazine have discovered an announcemt for an anime adaptation of the long running manga re-imagining of the first mobile suit Gundam© series called “Gundam the origin”, however so far theres no indication as to when it’l be released.

my thoughts:an actual remake of the first gundam series? FUCK YEAH!! ive been waiting and hoping for something like this since forever – it’s a pity that we lost so many of the original voice actors.
to see the original news item pop on over to anime news network –
http://www.animenewsnetwork.co.uk/news/2011-06-22/gundam-the-origin-manga-to-launch-anime-project

fans of cute little magical girls getting killed in gruesome and scary ways may have a chance to rejoyce!
american Anime website AnimeEv have discovered via twitter that Aniplex of america have just registered “MadokaMagikaUSA.com”, leading to the every propable conclusion that yes indeed puella magica Madoka Magika may be well on its way to the west. this comes after announcments by Aniplex that discussions were under way to licence the show.

What i think: hell i was into this series after first reading the announcment for it last year – damn straight im’a geting this!!
heres the linkt to animeEV’s website, and the article in question –
http://animeev.visibli.com/share/qtfXHF

And finally – well it had to happen.
Sankaku complex this week posted an article omn the next step of virtual idol Hatsune Mikus plans to take over the world – this time via holograms!
to quiote the article, and researcher Dr Shunsuke Yoshida:
fVisiOn is a novel glasses-free tabletop 3D display. The developed novel technique can float standing 3D image on a blank flat tabletop surface, and allow multiple viewers to observe the 3D from omnidirection of 360° in seated condition. It is designed to be a friendly interface for multiple users for varied tabletop tasks by featuring our glasses-free method and observation style.

For generation of the 3D images, fVisiOn employs a newly developed special optical device as a screen and a series of micro projectors arranged circularly. The combination of those devices reproduces a light field in a certain volume on the table.

My thoughts holographic chibi Mikus? well, we’re screwed!
link to the original sankaku complex article – http://www.sankakucomplex.com/2011/06/22/finally-hatsune-miku-hologram-developed/
well, what do you think? want to see more articles like this? or should i stick to my usual stuff? as always put your thoughts on the comments page down below.