More VA Sightings for October 2007!

Hey Moonies, The Negaforce is On A Roll!

To remind you all, Maria Vacratsis (Negaforce) has been nominated as part of the cast of Showcase’s Rent a Goalie in this year’s Gemini Awards. She plays the politician Firstman, who is more of a hindrance than a help in the hit show. Maria was also seen playing a pawnshop owner in the recent action-thriller Shoot ‘Em Up starring Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, and Monica Bellucci. This one was about a former soldier who is thrown into a conspiracy when he offers to protect the child of a mother being targeted by a hitman. The winners for certain awards have already been announced, but this one is part of the big awards show taking place in Regina, Saskatchewan. The host of the event is popular Canadian TV personality George Stroumboulopoulos. The awards will be airing live from Regina, Saskatchewan this Sunday on CBC. Check you local listings – good luck Maria! The show starts it’s second season on Canada’s Showcase on Monday.

Lyon Smith Continues Sound Design!

Until this Tuesday, Lyon Smith’s (Sapphire) work can be heard during the Tarragon Theatre’s production of Generous. Generous is a comedy that asks the question “What happens when members of society not known for their generosity become overwhelmed with the desire to help?” This is reflected when the major political party loses a non-confidence vote. We have a feeling this is based on recent events in Canada’s Parliament. After this, Lyon barely gets a break before he has to get to work doing sound design for Theatre & Company’s production of A Christmas Story, which runs from December 6th – 23rd. This one is a stage adaptation based on the film of the same name from 1983. Both productions are in Toronto and we would love to hear from fans who attend either of them!

Finally, a Trailer for Alice Blue!

This sighting takes us all way back. The Death of Alice Blue: Part 1: the Bloodsucking Vampires of Advertising finally has a trailer out! Unfortunately, a revamped website and the trailer still hasn’t given any word of a release date for this movie. Barbara Radecki (Sailor Neptune, Serena’s Mom) plays Sherry, and Katie Griffin (Sailor Mars #1) plays the role of Katie. We seriously don’t know any more than that – it’s been four years since this movie has been on the Sailor Moon VA radar and there is still no word on a release date. And we’re not the only ones who are wondering where this movie is. We inquired to Michael Kulas (Katie Griffin’s husband) earlier this week and he also has no idea when this movie is out. We’re also sad that whoever put the trailer together didn’t use any of Michael’s music in it. We have a feeling the blonde with the shorter hair might be Barbara, but we watched it over and over and could not spot Katie in it at all. Considering this is supposed to be the first film of many, we have to wonder what’s going on to delay the release for this long and if/when the sequels will be shot.

New Thai Animated Film Has A Connection to Sailor Moon

An Unexpected One Too!

While everyone knows major companies like Disney, Fox, Miramax, et al. commit a good portion of their animation work to be done by countries overseas, you almost never hear of animated films from those countries in North America. As we were making our weekly news run this week, we came across a story from Thailand that caught our attention in more ways than one. In the interest of preserving this article as it looks like it will be taken down in a few days, we are going to paste it after this article. We’re not going to clog up the front page, so if you’d like to read it, click the permalink or the link at the end of this article to read it.

The Life Of Buddha is a 100 minute animated film that stays true to the Tipitaka, the Holy Scriptures of Theravada Buddhism. The film shows the life of the Lord Buddha from His birth as Siddhartha Gautama, to enlightenment, to pilgrimages, and to his passing to nirvana. The film actually has some interesting history behind itself. It is produced by a Thai businesswoman named Wallapa Phimtong. It started out as a personal project for her in 2004. The film was constantly delayed due to funding issues, and Wallapa sold many of her assets including cars and her own home to finance this 108 million Baht (3.4 million USD) film. We’ve seen some stills and though the style is definitely distinct from Anime, we really think this traditional animated film is worth seeing. The film was made with the purpose of making this Legend more accessible to children. And since Buddhism’s popularity is rising in the west, it will be dubbed into at least five languages. Moreover, this is a gift to the current reigning monarch King Bhumibol’s 80th Birthday and will be released on the special day, December 5th.

What surprised us to read this was the fact that this is Thailand’s second cel-shaded animated film EVER! The first one was 1979’s The Adventure of Sudsakorn which was directed by Payut Ngaokrachang. Thailand had its first foray into computer animation with 2006’s Khan Kluay and looks so incredibly cute!

And finally, the other shocking thing that we read was that an animator who had worked for many years on many Toei Productions such as Galaxy Express 999, Saint Seiya, and Sailor Moon worked on this movie and had the following to say about Thai animators. “Thai cartoonists and animators excel at such work and are among the first choices for foreign animation companies.” This was something that we at least (and probably most of you) probably didn’t know about as it’s probably a known assumption that since all anime is animated in Japan, the animators are usually hired locally. All of Sailor Moon was inked and painted in Thailand, whereas all the directors, layout artists, and timers were in Japan.

This film is currently looking for a distribution deal in Los Angeles, and we will keep you posted once we hear news about it. Fans can watch a trailer here, but be warned. The 8mb WMV downloads at a snail’s pace so you may have to wait a few hours before you can actually watch the trailer.


From the Bangkok Post – October 23rd, 2007:

‘Life of the Buddha’

A new cartoon aims to adhere strictly to the Tipitaka while telling the story of Prince Siddhartha

PICHAYA SVASTI

At his birth, Prince Siddhartha was able to walk on magic lotus flowers. The prince grew up in a big, beautiful city, surrounded with luxuries. Married with one son, he started to question the meaning of life before fleeing the palace to find the ultimate truth.

During the moments leading to his enlightenment, the prince sat under a tree, facing an army of devils in various manifestations, attempting to seduce and distract him from his spiritual goals.

These scenes are from a new animation film, Life of the Buddha, to be screened across the country on December 5 to celebrate His Majesty the King’s 80th birthday.

While certain scenes, such as walking on lotus flowers, may be questioned by modern minds, the animation project’s president, Wallapa Pimtong, said the story is true to the Tipitaka and the Buddhist canon.

The cartoon runs for 100 minutes, and depicts the life of the Lord Buddha from his birth, ordination, enlightenment and pilgrimages to his passing to nirvana. It will be dubbed into at least five languages – English, Mandarin, Korean, Japanese and German.

The 108 million baht project, mostly funded by Wallapa’s Media Standard Company, was started in late 2003 by the firm and the Dharma Cartoon Group, with advice from Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University.

According to Wallapa, the only sponsorship the project has received is in the form of public relations support from six state agencies and financial support to the tune of five million baht from the Young Buddhists’ Association of Thailand. The company is also hoping the film will be broadcast as a series on Channel 7.

Hoping to distribute the cartoon in the West, where interest in Buddhism is on the rise, Wallapa said they were seeking a distribution deal in Los Angeles.

The project, she said, had its fair share of obstacles. After almost two years in pre-production, for example, the team had to revise the screenplay when it was found that certain segments were not true to the Tipitaka.

For example, the old script said that Mara dwells in a cave, but Mara is described in the Tipitaka as living in the top level of heaven, called Poranimmittavatsavati.

To prevent similar mistakes, the whole script has been reviewed by experts at Mahachulalongkorn- rajavidyalaya University, said Wallapa.

According to her, this is Thailand’s first full-length animated movie since Sudsakorn, produced by Payut Ngao-krajang in 1979. The team making the movie consisted of some 50 to 60 cartoonists and animators, many with over 10 years of experience in Hollywood and foreign animation companies.

Anusorn Rodsook, an experienced animator who had been part of Toei Animation’s production of Galaxy Express, Saint Seiya and Sailor Moon, said Thai cartoonists and animators excel at such work and are among the first choices for foreign animation companies.

Wallapa added that difficulties for this production involved not only the creation of characters, scenes and movements, but also the need to ensure the reliability of geographical facts that required analysis of every scene by experts.

Fortunately, there was no need for the production team to survey locations in India and Nepal themselves – they could check photos, provided by Wallapa, who studied at Magadh University, India.

“The entire movie consists of over one million drawings. Each minute on the screen took months of production. There was a lot to do, from scriptwriting, storyboarding, layouts, characterisation and background animation to computerisation,” she said.

To ensure the contents were correct, a special committee of experts and monks, appointed by Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University president Phra Dhammakosajarn, held monthly meetings.

“The monks, especially committee chairman Phra Sudhivoryarn and deputy chairman Phra Srithawatmaythee, would check everything, from the screenplay to characters and movements. Everything had to be approved by them,” Wallapa recalled.

According to her, the screenplay, written by Ampira Wongdhamma, begins when a deity is born as the prince who will become the Lord Buddha.

It also depicts miracles described in the Tipitaka. Audiences, she said, will be treated to dazzling scenes of miracles, such as when the Three Worlds reveal themselves when the Lord Buddha descends from heaven to visit his mother, Queen Sirimahamaya.

In this film, the Lord Buddha’s sayings are direct quotes from the Buddhist canon while conversations have been simplified.

To make it easier for children to understand the Lord Buddha’s battles with the Devil (evils and lusts) in his mind, Mara is portrayed in this film as a frightening character.

Fun scenes have been included after serious scenes to give younger viewers a break. One example is the Indian-style dancing scene, where Sujata and other women are preparing a special meal (called Khao Mathupayas) for the Lord Buddha, before his enlightenment.

One of the themes in the movie is the law of karma. For example, Phra Devadatta, a Buddhist monk who had plotted to disunite the Sangha community and kill the Lord Buddha several times, finally dies.

This law is inevitable even for arahants, or enlightened ones. For example, Phra Moggallana, one of the Lord Buddha’s closest disciples, faces a violent death despite his arahantship because he had killed his parents in a previous life.

“Although every detail is according to the Tipitaka, the characters are portrayed as human, with joys, disappointments and sorrows,” Wallapa said.

For director Assoc Prof Dr Krismant Whattananarong, this is a great challenge.

For example, portraying Phra Moggallana as strong and muscular, and Phra Sariputra as physically weak, does not come out thin air. It comes from the Buddhist canon.

The banks of the Anoma River, where Prince Siddhartha left the secular world, is also a white sandy beach, not rocky. The tree under which the Lord Buddha lay before passing to parinirvana, is tall and slim, not full of branches and leaves.

“We are confident that every detail is true to the Tipitaka. So, teachers can use this animation as a teaching tool,” he said.

One of the people waiting anxiously for the completion of this animation is Phra Sudhivoryarn, chairman of the content review committee. “It will certainly help make the Lord Buddha’s life more accessible to children,” he said.

Those wishing to support this film may donate 1,500 baht to buy a copy of a book entitled ‘The Making of the Life of Buddha’ for a needy school of their choice. The book is illustrated with scenes from the cartoon as well as providing readers with cartoon drawing techniques. For more information, call 02-556-1366/7 or email wallapa28@ yahoo.com.

Junichi Sato Didn’t Talk About Sailor Moon :(

We were unable to get our own copy of the Anime Giga episode we told you all about last night. But we were able to watch it thanks to the user Iris4d so we bit the bullet and watched it using Veoh’s horrible TV client. There was one small mention of Sailor Moon in the beginning when they were introducing his creds, but other than that it seemed like they talked about every anime that he had ever worked on except for Sailor Moon. The series was huge in Japan and did influence a lot of series after it and we really questioned this decision. They profiled anime that he has worked on such as Sargent Keroro, Ojamajo Doremi, and Kaleido Star, and he cooked for the hosts of the show. If you want to watch it , click here. Unfortunately Veoh has imposed a five minute limit on their streamed videos, but if you want to watch it all you’re pretty much forced to download the client. We really don’t recommend fans go to such lengths to watch this unless they are hardcore Junichi Sato fans. While it was good to hear his thoughts on his works of paths, we honestly thought the show could have been a lot better.

News Tidbits From the Other Side of the Pond!


☼ Junichi Sato (Director of the first two seasons) is going to appear on Anime Giga later today in Japan. Anime Giga is a monthly TV program which features important personalities from the anime industry and they are interviewed. Junichi is best known for his work on several children’s series, not just Sailor Moon! He has worked on series like Sargent Keroro, and Ojamajo Doremi. He is currently at work on the next installment of the Evangelion Movie Series, Evangelion 2,0. We are currently working on getting a clip for this episode, at the very least we will link you where you can watch it as soon as we can.

JAniCA is the newly created union for animators in Japan. Kazuko Tadano was one of the animators who worked on the first two seasons, the R Movie, and Make Up! Sailor Senshi!.Kazuko was one of the founding members of this union, and they held an inaugural meeting on the 13th. The animators in attendance all signed a flag, which you can see at the link above. How many characters can you name?

Industry Bits and Convention Appearance!

This is update night, and since there’s a lot to get to we’re going to keep things short! So a while ago, Toei’s Animated Cartoon * Comic service won an award at MIPCOM , an audiovisual media content market in Cannes. This service is unique, though a mobile subscription service, subscribers get sent a comic from one of Toei’s famous titles with comic bubbles over the characters head to tell the story of those episodic moments! For fans who were wondering, yes Sailor Moon is included!

Toei has just begun a promotion for the brand new Pretty Cure movie, as well as season 5 of the show. They are giving away 50 free parent-and-child movie passes, and they have also just added the last season, Splash Star, to their Ani BB service. Splash Star has a lot of connections to Sailor Moon, and even some Sailor Sightings have appeared in the past! They are: Kappei Yamaguchi (PGSM Artemis) as Floppy , Isshin Chiba (Kitakata – SS 137) as Currihan, Keiichi Nanba (Alan, Umino) as Moreunba, Mika Doi (Queen Serenity) as Saori Hyuga, Taeko Kawata (Momoko Momohara) as Princess Filia, Toshiyuki Morikawa (Yuu Kazama – S 115) , Yoko Soumi (PGSM Book Narrator – Ep. 5) as Asuka Suzuki, and Yuriko Fuchizaki (Cyprine) as Michiru Kiryu.

And today Anime News Network reported that Japan issued a formal statement of requests to the United States on regulatory reform and market competition a few days ago. They ask the government in “response to the network digitalization, the popularization of the Internet, advances in digital technology caused by the problem of copyright infringement,”to help them stop the illegal reproduction and distribution of anime online through peer-to-peer networks and video sharing sites. The Japanese Government finds the paths to litigation of these things too cumbersome and expensive, and they can’t keep up with all of them. In recent months we have noticed that most of the major studios now have anonymous forms that users can submit links to potentially infringing websites in an effort to make it easier for the studios.

And, this leaves Sailor Moon in a kind of odd situation. The series is popular, but we don’t think that everyone that would have liked to have owned a piece of it does. Secondly, it’s no longer easily available on DVD and we know of a lot of fans’ projects to upload the episodes onto video sharing sites or by other means to keep this series alive. It’s not licensed anywhere outside of Japan either, so it’s a gray area really. Aside from that though, we believe that fansubs are a good measure of what is popular with anime these days – and is probably a good indicator for distributors around the world to use when they are licensing series. Without it, you might think twice about picking up a DVD you might see at a store without having much exposure to it. We really admire sites like AnimeSuki which keep track of what’s been licensed and what hasn’t and that they step up to the plate to remove the links once a series has been picked up. A more realistic policy might be to stop (a little harder) the distribution of licensed series, which would mean that both Japan and the United States would have to be on the ball about these things. Popular video streaming sites that are Japan-exclusive, such as Nico Nico Douga, have a large amount of anime episodes that are streamed. We’ve even seen a few episodes of various dubs of Sailor Moon pop up on there. We do understand their concerns, because people in Japan have lots of different ways to obtain their anime and they really shouldn’t be streaming. We have a feeling that this is the real reason why they are asking for cooperation to control anime online.

And on a happier note, Anza Oyama(Sailor Moon in many Sera Myu Musicals) will be performing a concert with her Japanese Nu-Metal band Head Phones President at the 4th Annual Pacific Media Expo! The event is being held at the Hilton Los Angeles Airport and is America’s first major trade show dedicated to Asian-Pacific popular culture and entertainment media. If any fans are planning to attend this we would love to hear from you! The festival takes place from November 9th-11th.