BREAKING NEWS: Level E Cast and Crew Announced, and More Details Revealed!

Various Japanese news outlets today are reporting that it has finally been announced in the latest issue of Shueisha’s Jump Magazine that Yoshihiro Togashi’s Level E manga is going to be adapted into a TV series (all we had known for sure before was that it was going to be an animated adaptation). As of this writing, we do not know if the 12-13 episode rumor is true. It will begin in January 2011 on TV Tokyo, and the cast and crew were also announced.

Crew:

Director: Toshiyuki Kato (Directed Full Moon O Sagashite, and also worked storyboards for 8 episodes on Hunter X Hunter)
Series Composition: Jukki Hanada (Hanaukyo Maid Team La Verite, Sola)
Character Design and Animation Direction: Itsuko Takeda (Ghost in the Shell, Serial Experiments Lain)
Visual Concept and 3-D Direction: Yasufumi Soejima (Final Fantasy: Unlimited, Last Exile)
Music: Kunihiko Ryo (Story of Saiunkoku, Emma)
Animation Production: Pierrot x David Production

Cast:

Prince: Daisuke Namikawa
Yukitaka Tsutsui: Yoshimasa Hosoya
Sado: Masaya Takatsuka
Miho Edogawa: Satomi Akesaka
Craft: Takehito Koyasu (played Kido in the Yu Yu Hakusho Movie)
Corinne: Takumi Asahina
Narration: Fumihiko Tachiki

And, as an extra special treat, readers also got to see the first images from the anime in a special 2-page spread in the magazine! We’ve featured this below.

Yoshihiro Togashi’s Level E to be Animated!

Yoshihiro Togashi is best known to date for being two things: one, is being Naoko Takeuchi’s husband, and two for being a legendary mangaka best known for Yu Yu Hakusho and Hunter X Hunter. Both have been animated into series and OAVs, and the Hunter X Hunter manga is still ongoing on a pretty unpredictable schedule. Between the end of the publication of Yu Yu Hakusho and Hunter X Hunter was a manga called Level E. Comprised of 3 volumes (16 chapters), the story centers on Yukitaka Tsutsui. He is a freshman in high school who aspires to be the best baseball player that he can be. Upon moving into his apartment, there was a man there who claimed to be an alien who had lost his memory. Later, we learn that he is an alien prince and that while he may have all the brains and the smarts, he has the worst nature. Poor Yukitaka is the object of his torture! On Saturday October 23rd, at the Jump Super Anime Tour 2010, it was announced that an animated adaptation of Level E has been green lit for 2011. More details will be announced later, but all that the media has been reporting so far is that it will be animated by Studio Pierrot and David Production. Studio Pierrot has worked with Yoshihiro Togashi before, animating his epic Yu Yu Hakusho manga. David Production is a relatively new Japanese production studio founded by two producers formerly of Gonzo, Koji Kajita and Taito Okiura. They are best known for Soul Eater and Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2. As of this writing, there have been no more details reported in the press, however one site is reporting that there has been a rumor of an announcement at MIPCOM of 12 or 13 episodes. MIPCOM ended earlier in October, and we found no such press release from Studio Pierrot or David Production announcing this (Studio Pierrot did exhibit at MIPCOM). The Level E manga has also just been released in paperbacks in Japan as well, featuring new afterwords from Togashi himself. We are going to treat this as a rumor for now pending further confirmation. Some of us have read parts of Level E and found the story to be great – we look forward to seeing what will come out of this next year!

On Toei Animation Co. Ltd’s Recent Takedowns…

Hey Moonies,

We know that this is a tense time for all of us, hearing about the revival of Sailor Moon in other countries and listening as the rumor mill churns out endless slivers of hope.

We’d like to take a moment to talk about the current wave of rumors surrounding the takedown notices of various Sailor Moon related videos on youtube. However, in order to completely understand the situation we first need to understand how Toei Animation is organized.

The parent company in Japan is Toei Animation Co. LTD. This portion of the company, under that name, manages their properties primarily in Japan. There are also branches that operate in different regions of the world and manage the properties in those regions. In North America, the branch is located in California and is named Toei Animation Inc. A subtle, but important difference. This is the branch to watch for with regard to licensing deals in the US and Canada (along with most other English speaking countries). While Toei Animation Co. LTD. could be cited in press releases announcing licenses and other business ventured, they are not the ones actually dealing with the business deals for North American licenses.

All of the takedown notices that people have shown us have specifically come from Toei Animation Co. LTD. This means that this is the Japanese branch issuing the notice. And while they oversee the other branches, they won’t have a direct hand in any licensing deals in the English market. Therefore, we hope the fans don’t take this as any hint of a license for North America, because it really isn’t. It is just a case of a company enforcing their copyrights.

It is very likely that these videos were found by matching video or audio segments from the anime. Such methods are popular because they can be automated, and the scripts that perform this tedious work can’t distinguish parody from blatant copying. The same thing happens in every genre of entertainment on youtube. Videos stay up for long periods of time and suddenly disappear because they happen to have been found at last. DVDs are finally being re-released in Japan after a very long time, so Toei Animation has stepped up their game to get episodes removed in a bid to encourage fans to purchase the episodes either on DVD or through their Anime BB service.

Everyone also has to realize that Sailor Moon also has an image to be kept up. Toei Animation will be on the lookout for content utilizing Sailor Moon (as they will with all of their properties) that in their opinion doesn’t portray it in the light that they would like it to be. While a video parody may be intended to mock the series humorously from the uploader’s perspective, it may not be seen that way from the original copyright holder’s perspective. If something happens to fit this bill, it will be targeted. And while parodies are legal, their legality falls within certain bounds. If Toei Animation (or any other company with any other property) doesn’t approve of some use of their property, they can and will fight for their rights just as anyone else will. We suspect that this may be a second reason for at least some of the takedowns.

While hearing this may dismay some fans, we would encourage you to be careful with any use of Sailor Moon images, videos and audio clips until the end of the revival. And definitely, definitely do not try to profit from directly related Sailor Moon content, or you will be a sure-fire target. And once again, do not believe everything you hear without a press release (if we had a nickel for every time we have heard this from the companies involved when approaching them to confirm or deny a new rumor, we’d be rich). Let’s show all the companies involved that the Sailor Moon fandom is mature and responsible and that we deserve our heroine back!

Sailor Mercury’s Shabon Spray Now Clear!

And Out From the Fog, We See The Right Karen Bernstein!

Karen Bernstein was the first actress to play Sailor Mercury in Sailor Moon, and carried the role up until the end of the 3 movies. Since then, fans have been wondering where she had gone and if they would ever hear her voice again. Around the end of 2006, I had heard from various sources that she was no longer a voice actress and had moved into production. What sort of production field it was, remained a mystery to me. And then after much digging I came across a Karen Bernstein in 2007 that was a documentary producer. The shoe fit (so I thought), and this was confirmed by an old friend. Nearly 20 articles on Moon Chase went by without question. We went with it because 2008 was a very big year for Sailor Moon Voice Actor achievements (such as Stephanie “Sailor Venus” Morgenstern’s Flashpoint). This Karen had produced a documentary called Body of War that year that was directed by Phil Donahue (yes, that Phil from that old talk show), and Ellen Spiro. It had received numerous awards and accolades, and had even gotten on the short list for a potential Oscar Nomination.

And then a few weeks ago I read something about this Karen that sounded a little strange and unsettling while doing a little research for a future actor update. The more I thought about it, the more I wondered if this was still the same Sailor Mercury. After the many scandals we have had to endure this year, I went back to square one to recheck my research. Once again, I went through what little I knew about Karen, before I had begun writing about this documentary producer so many years ago. On a whim, I sent an email to someone I thought could steer me in the right direction, explaining what I thought was a mistake that needed to be cleared up.

This person replied to me, knows Karen directly and was able to confirm the mistake. They informed me that other sites had also made this error in the past, but have since cleared them up. Other information about Karen that I was told, is that she isn’t voice acting because she has made the transition from voice acting to production. Karen is a radio and audio producer, and not a documentarian (at the very least, the previous information I had been given was partially correct). And for all you Hello Kitty fans, she has not been the voice of the beloved Sanrio character for several years now. It is also true that she suggested Liza Balkan audition for the role of Sailor Mercury after she was unable to play the role during the S and SuperS seasons due to her busy schedule. Liza is actually an actor colleague of hers. Karen’s last voice acting role was that of Maggie in the cartoon based on those popular Fisher-Price toys, Little People, Big Discoveries. My source also said that Karen does not consider the voice acting door to be completely closed, so there is a chance that she may return to it in the future.

In light of this corrected information so we stay on topic on a blog which already has an extensive range of topics, we have removed all posts and mentions of the incorrect Karen Bernstein on our blog. However, if our readers are looking to watch any good, thought-provoking documentaries on a variety on meaningful issues, please continue to support the other Karen Bernstein. We apologize to everyone for this mistake, and we will continue to strive to bring you everything we can in the Sailor Moon world. And of course, a heartfelt apology to both Karen Bernsteins for the mixup – this will never happen again, and we’re very sorry it did. It was a very surprising coincidence to learn that the both of you are producers, and that one tiny fact was the reason for this mistake.

Fans can check out some of Karen’s old voice work on the internet below. These also featured other actors that would later act in Sailor Moon!

“Beverly Hills Teens” – a very old cartoon from the 80s about wealthy teenagers living in Beverly Hills. Kinda like The Hills without the annoyance factor! Karen played Jett and Tara Belle in this series.

“Birdz!” An animated cartoon about feathered friends just trying to make it in this world. Karen played Olivia Owl in this series!

“Maggie’s Friends Pitch In” – an episode of Little People, Big Discoveries (Karen’s very last voice role, fast forward to 5:15)

Magic Lessons Dark Kingdom Fanart Contest

This contest is being run by Kir-tat on deviantART. Kir-tat (or Tata) is a Russian artist who often creates detailed fanart digital paintings of the Dark Kingdom villains from Sailor Moon. Feel free to browse through her Dark Kingdom works in her deviantART gallery, to get an idea of her style. There are a few pages of work to browse through, and we think many of our readers will be impressed!

We are advertising Kir-tat’s contest because we think our readers may be interested in participating (or at least seeing the results!).
Note: The information below is largely the contest details written by Kir-tat in her deviantART journal.

The themes of her contest are magic lessons or show me magic. These themes suggest various scenarios – serious, romantic, or humorous. You can interpret and understand the theme freely, your imagination is not limited by anything, save for a few rules…

The Rules:

  • You must include at least one of the following five characters: Jadeite, Nephrite, Zoisite, Kunzite, Beryl (from Sailor Moon).
  • Anime (or manga) version of the character(s), not live-action.
  • You can also include any other SailorMoon/original/other series characters.
  • Drawings done in any media and style are accepted – realistic or manga, traditional or digital…
  • Works that will not be accepted: collages, copies or tracings, old images (that were not made for the contest), works that would hurt someone’s feelings, and other works that would break the rules established by deviantArt.
  • No more than 3 works from one author
  • Contest pieces should be posted in your DA gallery and links submitted as comments to Kir-tat’s journal entry about the contest.
  • Submitted pieces will be added to Kir-tat’s journal entry about the contest as they are received (and as she has time).
  • All works will afterwards be published on a special contest page of the site darkkingdom.ru (Kir-tat’s website), with links to the contestants’ pages.
  • Kir-tat will be picking the winners. Personal favoritism is not possible, in fact she hopes her firends will help her with the judging. So don’t be shy about participating and good luck everyone!
  • Last day for submission: December 20th, 2010
  • The results will be published no later December 27th, 2010

Prizes:
1st place – Kir-tat’s artbook (see image on the right) + a surprise (she will mail to any part of the world, but only after the 10th of January)
2nd place – coloring of your sketch/lineart (1-2 characters)
3rd place – coloring of your sketch/lineart (1 character)

Character info:
Reference info
Screenshots by Stayka

Just in case:

in Russian fandom, the demons are often believed to have the following magic: Jadeite – demon of Dreams and Illusions, Nephrite – demon of Stars and Destinies, Zoisite – demon of Fire and Wind, Kunzite – demon of Ice and Chaos. You are not required to use this information, but perhaps it will inspire someone. And if you like, you can comment on the journal entry about the contest to connect with other contest entrants.

And here’s the cover for her artbook, featuring the four generals:

We hope our readers enjoy Kir-tat’s artwork and encourage our artistic readers to consider entering the contest. We will definitely be keeping an eye on the results!