News From The Other Side Of The Pond #13!

Toru Furuya Reprises Role in A Ramen Commercial?

Some say it was bound to happen. The Nissin Freedom Project reminded us a lot of other anime series, mainly Gundam, Evangelion and Eureka 7. Now we have learned of a new crossover between Nissin and the Gundam series, wherein Gundam characters revel at the sight of a bowl of noodles after being starved from fighting their battles. The noodles are inserted into memorable scenes from the first-ever Mobile Suit Gundam series. Toru Furuya (Tuxedo Kamen) reprises his role as Ray Amuro, who can be seen here (left side) joyously relieved after seeing a floating bowl of noodles in space, before his delusion causes him to fall out of his spaceship. Banjou Ginga also reprises his role as Gihren Zabi in the commercials (on the same page as above, but on the right). We find it funny the lengths some Japanese companies will go through to have their products appeal to the masses – we couldn’t help but laugh at the randomness of the noodles that floated in space.

Ai Nonaka Inspired by Megumi Ogata

Ai Nonaka is 26 years old, but has dreamed of being an actress since she was very young. In high school, she was the head of the drama club and dreamed of playing the male roles in the famous Takarazuka Revue. However she was not tall enough for an audition there, and turned to radio acting school. Today she is both a singer and a Seiyuu, and sat down with Famitsu for an interview. She revealed that she was inspired by the performances of Megumi Ogata (Sailor Uranus) who typically plays roles of women who are tomboyish, sometimes playing even boys and men. She even got to meet Megumi Ogata when she was a guest star on one of the radio shows that she was acting in, and stayed behind so that she could meet her idol. Ai says that while she is happy to have achieved her dream, she has very little time to herself. She has just added aromatherapy to her daily regiment to help relieve all the stress from being an actress and singing! Ai Nonaka is famous for such roles as Shima Katase in Stellvia of the Universe, Konoka Konoe in Mahou Sensei Negima, and most recently, Fuko Ibuki in Clannad.

New Gackt Album Inspired by Gundam!

Japanese Rocker Gackt released a new album of covers from 0079-0088 Gundam Series on December 21st. Entitled 0079-0088 , the limited edition features narration from none other than Toru Furuya and Shuichi Ikeda. There was a party held that day in Kinokuniya to commemorate the album’s release, and Keiko Han (Luna and Queen Beryl) was in attendance. She once played the role of Lalah Sune on the series. A video message was also shown from Toru Furuya, who was in China for a cultural exchange on that day. Fans looking to purchase either narrated version (Toru’s or Shuichi’s) or the normal version can click the links to find them on YesAsia.com.

Jadeite and Artemis in Upcoming Anime!

Masaya Onosaka (Jadeite) is set to voice the character Jade “J.D.” in an anime to debut this April, Neo Angelique Abyss. There will also be a video game out for Sony’s PlayStation 2 at around the same time. This one is a romantic, magical girl anime which continues from the previous series, Angelique. Angelique is now a Queen and must defend her kingdom from Thanatos, which has consumed many other societies around her in darkness. The show also stars Kappei Yamaguchi (PGSM Artemis) in the role of René. Jade is on Angelique’s side and wants to help so he can see lots of people smiling, however René is a very gloomy and devilish person. The series was created by Koei and is expected to be a big hit.

Aya Sugimoto Takes On New Role…

As a producer! Aya, who is famous to us for playing Queen Beryl in PGSM , and to others for her “modelling”, produced a Kabuki show in Japan on the 23rd of December. She attended one of the classes to learn Kabuki, and found that it took a lot of energy ! She found the restrictive movements difficult, and admired the 12 women for their grace and persistence in the art. For those of our readers who are unaware what Kabuki is, it is a style of dance drama that is usually performed by females, though in recent history some men perform it as well. They are usually short comedic plays based on stories along the walk of life. The performers always wear fancy kimonos and a lot of makeup when they perform these on stage.

Mika Kanai Soldiers on!

Mika Kanai (Mimete) put on quite the show at the Suchi Pie Christmas Special December 16th! Despite recent news of her divorce, she sang alongside several maids and put on a very successful concert along with the rest of the cast of Suchi Pie. When she came to perform, not many people knew that it was her, since she rarely appears in public, let alone even to sing. She sang You And Me , the second ending to the most recent video game of the series, Idol Sparrow Suchi Pie IV. Mika also serves as the voice of a character in this game, Misaki Kyoko. Rika Fukami (Sailor Venus) plays the role of Nanjou Rie, but she was not at this event. Mika was supported by a chorus of girls dressed up as café maids, which serve as the premise of this game. She came dressed in a cute black elf costume and sang with lots of enthusiasm! This game is unique because it was formatted for the home market, and is based on the popular Asian matching game of Mahjong. Fans can check out some more information about the series here. As of this writing, we have not heard if this game will be released here.

Masaya Kikawada to Appear in Chronic Complainer!

Chronic Complainers is a short TV Movie that is set to air January the 6th on Fuji’s Tokai TV. It is about life in a department store, specifically the complaints that are received at the returns counter. The department store is 140 years old, and has an aging management that has to deal with a variety of occurrences at the store, such as a drunk person who passes out while shopping, and not wanting to have to reimburse a customer for a faulty piece of kitchenware – that should be the manufacturer’s job! It looks like it will be a heartwarming comedy about the skills needed to cope with such a job, as well as the relationships among the workers. Masaya Kikawada (PGSM Motoki) plays Eren Tatsuya, a clerk at the store.

And thus ends our last article of the year! Thanks for a great 2007!

News From The Other Side Of The Pond #11!

Beware of Fake Rika Izumi aka Chisaki Hama Blog!

Ahh,Rika Izumi, or better known by a stage name of years passed, Chisaki Hama (Sailor Mercury in PGSM). Her whereabouts since last year have only been documented in blogs from the other actresses of PGSM when they have hung out. This year saw something different though, a resurrection! But wait, it’s probably not her. It all started last October when someone posted some pretty grainy cell phone videos of Rika Izumi – or so they say. It could be her, but we really doubt the authenticity of this channel. Besides, the only “stars” we know that would post private videos are usually aiming for a different audience. And some of these “private videos” show Rika in situations that look scripted. We don’t think that this is Rika and that this channel is probably fake. Late last month, we learned of this website, which features a blog translated by her roommate “Michiko”. We thought it was a little shady since it appeared to be a community of all the PGSM actresses, and featured very little of their work outside of the show. We also learned that the English parts of the blog are some poorly translated entries, that are supposedly posted by the stars themselves. Some of the stars though, notably Ayaka Komatsu, have their own blogs elsewhere, and to be able to post comments, you have to pay a fee to be a member of their fan club. Then you can post all the comments you like! We highly doubt they would also run a free site on the side. We’re sure if her management knew about how her entries were being copied and frauded around like this something would be done. We have reason to believe that this site is also fake as Jay Navok of Genvid has pointed out that the Japanese probably isn’t correct either. We have tried our hardest to contact as many of the talent agents of the other stars, to warn them that content is being stolen, however as of this writing it appears none of them have done anything about it.

Mop Girl Only The Latest In A Growing Trend

Keiko Kitagawa‘s (Sailor Mars in PGSM) new late-night drama Mop Girl is only the latest in a recent trend in Japanese Television. 10 years ago, “midnight dramas” were not really in existence, and Japanese people were not likely to watch television late at night. This time slot attracts the youth especially and is almost becoming the new primetime for that demographic. Mop Girl is especially popular with viewers aged 20-24.

Phone Girls is out on DVD!

Rina Koike (Sailor Luna in PGSM) continues her ascent in the idol world, and her new series called Phone Girls / Keitai Shoujo was released on DVD November 26th in Japan. It’s about schoolgirls who love to talk and use their cell phones! The show has an animated RPG component, as well as a live action drama about a phone girl falling in love on a class trip. Last week all the idols of the show did a live show which will be released on DVD in February. They all played instruments and this was the first time Rina performed the drums for an audience! We were smitten with cute when we saw this picture, Rina is such a darling!!

Megumi Ogata Holds Concert Celebrating 15 Years in Anime!

Yesterday, Megumi Ogata (Sailor Uranus) held a concert in Shibuya O-EAST celebrating her 15 years in the Anime industry. She sang a whopping 38 songs , and opening the show was Moonlight Densetsu, better known as the opening theme of the first four seasons of Sailor Moon! And there cheering her on was none other than frequent co-stars Aya Hisakawa (Sailor Mercury) and Kikuko Inoue (Sailor Aluminum Siren)! She sang hits from all her work, including Cruel Angel’s Thesis from Neon Genesis Evangelion. Congratulations Emi and here’s to more years of hearing your voice in anime! Fans may be interested to know that Jamiroquai Frontman Jay Kay is a producer of one of the floors at Shibuya O-EAST where fans can enjoy a fine meal while they are at a concert.

In Other Concert News…

Yoko Ishida will also be performing a concert December 24th, to thank her fans. Coincidentally, she is also celebrating 15 years in the industry! Her first hit was Otome no Policy from Sailor Moon R in 1993. The concert begins at 5:30 PM and tickets are ¥4000. For those of our fans who are in Japan and can attend Thankful X’mas, they can find out more information from the venue, Eggman.

Toru Furuya Appears at Yet Another Intel Event!

Toru Furuya (Tuxedo Kamen) is such a technophile! He has made yet another appearance at an Intel event November 25th to promote Intel’s processors. This time he appeared at the Special Stage of Intel in Osaka 2007. He joked that the new Core 2 Quad processor has 5x as much power as a Gundam! He did voices of his most famous characters at the event to get the audience’s attention, including Tuxedo Kamen! He said something to the effect of not standing for men who break an elegant girl’s heart. We wonder why Intel hasn’t bothered to hire Vince Corazza to make Sailor Mon fans everywhere swoon enough to buy Intel Processors! Nonetheless, we absolutely love this shot of Toru holding the processor box in his hands!

Mika Kanai And Her Husband Get Divorced 🙁

Last week, several Japanese news outlets covered the sad news that Mika Kanai (Mimete) and her husband, Kouichi Yamadera have been divorced for over a year. They divorced after around 12 years of marriage in spring of 2006, but this has only come to light now. The two are long-time veterans of voice, with Kouichi being the Japanese dub voice of such hollywood heavyweights like Eddie Murphy and Jim Carrey. He proposed to her in 1994 after they had gotten to know each other from co-starring together in a radio drama. His proposal was infamous as he had popped the question to her while standing on a mailbox! Though the cause of the split is unknown, many are speculating that their busy schedules over the last few years was likely the cause. They probably barely had time to spend with each other after their careers.

The two had worked together on many series, such as the children’s favorite Anpanman, Ranma ½, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig, and Pokemon. They even worked together on the dub of Tiny Toons Adventures , playing Shirley McLoon and Plucky Duck. While this may come to a shock to us now, friends of the couple say that they had been discussing divorce for several years repeatedly. Mika is now living in the three-story house they once shared, and Kouichi is living in an apartment in Tokyo. The two still remain friends, and neither wishes to speak about the divorce saying that this is a private matter and they will not comment. Mika can be seen next in a sold-out concert December 16th. She and other seiyuu from the popular OVA Suchie Pai will be performing a Christmas special at Live Inn Magic in Tokyo.

News From The Other Side of The Pond #9

Keiko Kitagawa’s Movie Career is Booming!

Keiko Kitagawa (PGSM Sailor Mars) seems to be everywhere these days. Aside from her new success with the dramedy Mop Girl, she has two movies out this month, Southbound and Heat Island. Both films have gotten rave reviews, and have hailed Keiko’s performances as superb.

Southbound was released on October 6th and failed to do well in the theaters, but received glowing reviews from the press. This is based on an award winning novel by Hideo Okuda and is a heartwarming coming of age story. Junichiro Uehara, an activist, decides to relocate his family to rural Okinawa from the high-paced city life of Tokyo. The children have a hard time adjusting to their new life, and especially adjusting to personal changes in their father’s life. These include a mistress on the side. The mother plays a key role in bringing the family back together. Keiko Kitagawa plays Yoko Uehara, the oldest daughter in this family who is a graphics designer. Mika Nakashima sings the theme song, Eternal Poem.

Heat Island is about Shibuya’s underground fight clubs. Some fight as a way to support their families during tough times, or for their own survival. The underground is also responsible for running the casinos much like the Yakuza, after a robbery from a Latin American Mafia. Keiko plays Nao,the model girlfriend of gang leader Aki. Aki is the main character in this movie and definitely someone you do not want to mess with. Keiko enjoyed playing this underground “ghetto” character. We have heard rumors that this film is currently seeking worldwide distribution and we will keep you posted as soon as we hear more about it. The movie just came out last week and though the few reviews that have started to trickle in have been great, we are hoping that this movie will be a hit in Japan.

Keiko Han and Toru Furuya Appear at Namco Wonderpark Hero’s Base!

In Kanagawa Perfecture, just south of Tokyo, there is a giant arcade that Namco has opened known as the Wonderpark. Two weeks ago, there was a tournament for arcade players (coinciding with the first anniversary of their Hero’s Base part of the park), and three stars of various Gundam series came to the championship. Keiko Han (Luna in both anime and PGSM, Queen Beryl in the anime) and Toru Furuya (Tuxedo Kamen) were among them! Keiko played Lalah Sune in many of the series’ incarnations, and Toru is best known for playing Ray Amuro. Toru actually helped some of the players and played along, and from the pictures we have seen, it looked like he had fun! Afterwards they held a Q&A session with the players and talked about their experiences recording the series. They all agreed that it was fun, and they had very fond memories of it. They also said they would play these characters again if they were given the opportunity, as well as humoring the fans by asking them to keep them as their favorite Seiyuu because their work relies on it :).

Masaya Kikawada Continues to Ride On!

Masaya Kikawada (PGSM Motoki Furuhata) is currently on a Japan road tour in support of the new Kamen Rider Movie, Kamen Rider The Next which was just released on October 27th. We also got our paws on an interview he did a little over a week ago. He reveals that while the suit is tight and hard to move in, it makes him want to look his best just like the people who played the character before him – almost like straightening his tie and setting his hair. He feels hot when he puts on the suit! During his wire stunts, he admits that he was a bit of a baby, afraid and a little wimpy when he was first learning them, but after a lot of practice they became a second nature to him. He also agreed with the PG-12 rating because he thought some of the violence in the movie was too intense for television. He thinks that a true hero must not only be strong but also be humble and gentle. When he was younger he aspired to be just like Goku from DragonBall because he was not only good-looking but a hero that everyone could look up to – but he also wanted to be a responsible adult. The movie that precluded this, Kamen Rider the First, was released by Media Blasters’ Tokyo Shock division earlier this year, and we anticipate hearing news of this being released here in the future.

And Finally, For All You Hunter X Hunter Fans:

We came across yet another article that brings in a new theory for why Yoshihiro Togashi took his hiatus. This one cites discord with the editing department at Shonen Jump, and Togashi wanting to redo everything by himself. The editors might have put too much pressure on him in the beginning, and though Yoshihiro says he is ready to start drawing again, the writer of this article has his doubts. He finds this sudden need for perfectionism unusual. The writer also thinks that Yoshihiro didn’t want to write because his son is seven years old now and that he wanted to be a part of his happy childhood. *shrugs* We may never know all of the reasons why the hiatus happened, but it seems that while some writers in Japan have harsh words for Yoshihiro, they seem to forget that the manga is back now and that it will be finished. Isn’t that the most important thing of all?

News From The Other Side Of The Pond #8!

Megumi Ogata Shares Her Love of Macs With Japan!

Broadband Watch is a website in Japan that caters to the technological crowd kind of like what CNET is to us. They are currently running a special where they are featuring 100 desktops of celebrities in Japan, and #38 comes from Megumi Ogata, who we all know as Sailor Uranus. Broadband Watch conducted an interview with her and here are the highlights! Megumi has been a loyal Mac user for 20 years, since the days of the Classic II (our older readers may remember those computers!). At home she uses the 17-inch model and she doesn’t change her desktop frequently (pictured here, with a censored sticky). She does use the stickies on her Mac a lot though, from writing simple memos, to reminding her of passwords for sites she likes to use. Her husband 20 years ago was a programmer and that’s how she got started on first the black and white Mac Classic II, and then moved on to the color model. Her first game was called Makigame and she played it when she wasn’t doing housework, and remembers a screensaver with a flying toaster. Her private office uses a Windows Machine but she is happy that she can use Word and Excel on her Mac. She hates Internet Explorer and Netscape, but uses Safari on her Mac, and her only gripe with it is that it deletes her browsing history quickly. She uses Microsoft Entourage along with a memory stick for her email, and she is currently learning how to use Garage Band. We would have expected Toru Furuya to give this kind of interview as he is often seen at many tech events, and never expected to see Megumi Ogata for something like this! It’s an interesting read, and fnas should definitely go check it out. She also likes to blog, and fans can read her blog here.

Mitsuishi Kotono Narrates Commercial for Popular Tour

We found a tiny mention of Mitsuishi Kotono (Sailor Moon) with regards to a tour. Mitsuhiro Oikawa is a current heartthrob in Japan, having appeared in many dramas and live action movies. Starting in December, he is going to tour Japan singing on his very own tour, Ichaicha: Cherie, Tu Es Moi (Honey, You Have Me). Kotono Mitsuishi is doing the narration for the TV spots advertising the tour, and she is also impressed by Mitsuhiro. The article also mentions that many of his fans call him “Chest-Kun” because he is often shirtless.


Paprika Wins Another Award!

In 1996, the Animation Kobe awards were created for the promotion of anime and other Japanese visual media. This year marked the 12th anniversary of the awards, and critically acclaimed director Satoshi Kon has another reason to smile as Paprika won the Feature Film Award! The interesting thing is that last year’s winner(Mamoru Hosoda’s The Girl Who Lept Through Time), was released just a few months ahead of Paprika, but both of these exceptional films were able to win this award because of a technicality in the rules. The Girl Who Lept Through Time was released in July of 2006, and Paprika that November. August was the cutoff date for the 2006 awards. This is Satoshi Kon’s second win in this category, his film Millennium Actress won the same award in 2003. On November 12th, there will be an event showcasing the works of all the winners in Kobe, and other winners this year included one of Moon Chase’s favorite directors, Isao Takahata, and one of this years hottest OVAs, Ghost in the Shell: S.A.C. Solid State Society.

Paprika will be coming out on DVD November 27th, so only a month and a bit before all our readers can finally see this film! On a side note, we’d really like to thank Mongrel Media for the terrible job they have done with the distribution of this movie in Canada. The movie spent most of it’s summer run in a single theater in Toronto, and is now being shown for barely a few nights in theaters all over the country. Considering how popular this movie was among the critics and how it was hailed to be a hit, unfortunately the distributor thought it would be better to let the movie sit for a long time in one theater and skip across the country. Even Ghibli films don’t get this kind of treatment. We know of several fans all over who were waiting in anticipation to see this movie on the big screen and have heard too many stories of disappointment, and that the United States did not experience these kinds of problems in most states.

Glass Rabbit Is Up For Grabs!

During the beginning of November, the American Film Market(AFM) is set to take place in Santa Monica, California. We told you not too long ago about The Glass Rabbit, which is currently making it’s way through Canada through special features from the Japanese Consulate. The Glass Rabbit is now going to be included as part of the AFM, where companies showcase films in the hopes that they will be picked up for production and/or distribution. We’re really hoping that it gets picked up – this movie did remind me a lot of the epicGrave of the Fireflies and it does hold potential to be a hit of close to that magnitude. We have since learned that this heartbreaking film is actually based on the real story of the author Toshiko Takagi. All of the performances were very good in this movie – especially of the young girl who played Toshiko, Rina Mogami. Taeko Kawata (Momoko Momohara) played the innocent role of Mitsuko, one of the younger sisters of the main characters. It was an exceptional film and we recommend fans go see this one if they can!

This film is making it’s way across Eastern Canada, and we recommend fans keep checking these links below for information when these films will be playing near them. Side Note: They were all good, but Hotel Hibiscus was a little mediocre.

For Ottawa, click here.

For Toronto, click here or here.

For Montreal, click here.

Paprika Finally Gets a Release Date!

It was just a few days ago when we were longing to hear news of a release date, and it came today! Paprika is going to be released on both Blu-Ray and Standard DVD on November 27th. As if you haven’t read it on this blog already a hundred times, this movie stars two Seiyuu of Sailor Moon in leading roles – Megumi Hayashibara (Himeko) plays Dr. Atsuko Chiba, and Toru Furuya (Tuxedo Kamen) as Dr. Kosaku Tokita. And it looks like some of the extras that are on the Japanese release are coming as extras here too. There is a half-hour behind-the-scenes commentary that looks at the film and staff, A Conversation About The Dream, which features the cast and the director, Satoshi Kon, speaking about the film in the style of a talk show, along with another commentary. It’s nice to see this film released on the newer, higher definition Blu-Ray DVD format. This is great news as now Paprika fans don’t have to go to great lengths just to get the Blu-Ray from Japan!