News From the Other Side of the Pond #4!

Toei Anime BB Service Expands to the Windows Vista And Media Center Platform!

Toei Animation is making use of new technologies to further its anime-on-demand service, Anime BB. Anime BB Premium uses the special Microsoft XML variant MCML to integrate itself into Windows Media Center for Windows Vista, and now Media Center can be used to download anime “rentals”. A lot of companies are doing this nowadays, you can pay to download something but it expires after a few days (hence, a rental). Fist of the North Star, Sailor Moon, and Galaxy 999 are a few of the launch titles for this new service. No word on what the prices are like for this service yet – but we worked out the conversion for the other method of downloading episodes and it worked out to under two bucks an episode. This new premium service launched on June 27th.

JTB Begins New Talent Agency and School!

The Japan Travel Bureau (JTB) is Japan’s largest travel agency. They have branches all over the world to help Japanese tourists and is one of the largest Japanese companies. On June 13th, JTB announced that they are starting a new talent agency and school. Some popular idols have already signed with them, including Megumi Ogata (Sailor Uranus, Petz) and Rin Takanashi. Their school, JTB Entertainment Academy, was fostered especially to train seiyuu (voice actors) and Ms. Ogata has been named a special instructor. Fans may be surprised to know that Ms. Ogata almost became a teacher – she didn’t think she was pretty enough to be an actress when she was younger! Other famous anime staff will also be instructing at the Academy, including Miyajima Hideji (Producer of the live action Casshern movie), and Kousi Nagasaki (Producer of Blood: The Last Vampire). After a student successfully graduates from the Academy, they have exclusive opportunities to sign with the JTB Agency to be the next rising seiyuu! The school’s first class begain this past April.

Shion Nakamaru Stars in New Movie

Kikoku no Senjo is a brand new movie that will be playing in Japan in July, and will be coming to DVD in September. From what we can tell, it looks to be a movie about forbidden love in 1945 post-war Hiroshima. Shion Nakamaru plays Natsuko Kitazawa, a 19-year old prostitute who is in love with Daisuke Kajiwara (played by Dai Watanabe), a Police Officer. Shion Nakamaru played Black Lady in the 2002 Sera Myu (Sailor Moon Musical) Tanjou! Ankoku no Princess Black Lady (Kaiteiban) -Wakusei Nemesis no Nazo. And for even more connections, Shion also played Riko Saida/Dark Faust in Ultraman Nexus! The critics loved her performance in this movie. Since this is a brand new movie and news is just trickling in about it now , we will let you know more about this movie as soon as we learn more!

Clock Store Owner Continues Tradition!

When we went searching for our news stories, this one came up a while ago, and we juggled the idea of whether we should mention it or not. Since we do try to bring in some culture behind the series to this blog, we finally decided to mention it! In Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, Hamakita Ward, there lives a 61-year-old clock store owner, Matsrigotohare Kamiya. Every year for the last 30 years, he has invited kindergarten classes to come to his store to learn how to tell the time. He also shows them many clocks, and also showing them the inside of the clocks, their parts, and how they work. The children like to look at the different kinds of clocks, and they really enjoyed a Sailor Moon clock that he had shown them. It’s nice to know that Sailor Moon still reaches that young generation even today in Japan! We salute Mr. Kamiya for his generosity and compassion towards these young children!

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