Monday, March 30, 2009

Tezuka Manga Museum in Takarazuka

Since I'm almost over with my holidays, in the past few days I visited several places that I didn't visited until now: Nara, the Osaka Castle and yesterday I went to Takarazuka.

Takarazuka's main touristic atraction is the Takarazuka Kagekidan, an all-female musical theater with strong yuri overtones because women play both male and female roles.
Sakura Taisen series is heavily influenced by the Takarazuka Revue, as well as several shoujo manga like Ikeda Riyoko's Versailles no Bara and Shoujo Kakumei Utena.

The Takarazuka Grand Theather.

An statue near the Takarazuka Grand Theather entrance representing Oscar and André, from Versailles no Bara.

Cherry blossom on the street to Takarazuka Theather, the Hana no michi.

But the main reason for my visit to Takarazuka was Tezuka Osamu Manga Museum.
Tezuka Osamu is often called the "Father of Anime" and "the God of Manga", so as an anime and manga fan one should, at least once, make a courtesy visit to his museum.

A statue of the Phoenix from the manga Hi no Tori in the entrance.

Details on the lampost.

Concrete handprints and footprints of his most famous characters. In the photo, Atom (Astroboy).

The museum is not as cool as the Ghibli Museum and it's rather small, but I spent a good 3 hours inside.The first floor contained an elaborated reception hall with a Tezuka's self portrait in mosaic on the floor and a stained glass panel with Tezuka's characters in the ceiling. I'm not sure if it was allowed to take photos inside; except for a few places, there was no sign saying that it was prohibited but none of the visitors was taking any, so I sneakly took just a few.

Stained glass panel in the ceiling.

Painted tiles on the floor.

Also in the first floor it's the permanent exhibit, with manuscrits and originals despicting life and work of Tezuka and a screening room displaying a 20 minutes documentary about him.

The basement floor is a little animation workshop oriented toward children, so I briefly looked arround and left.

In the second floor is the temporary exhibition room, right now displaying the early works of Mushi Productions, Tezuka's animation studio, with an exhibit of settings, cels and storyboards for Tetsuwan Atom, Jungle Taitei and Ribbon no Kishi.

There is also a bunch of statues: Leo (almost not seen in the photo), Atom, BlackJack, Sapphire and the pretty much unknown in the west Sharaku and Unico:

The rest of the floor was a book display of Tezuka's first editions books, a little and expensive cafe and an also little and expensive shop.
In the shop I purchased:

A shitajiki with Sapphire from Ribbon no Kishi, Atom aka Astroboy from Tetsuwan Atom and Leo aka Kimba fom Jungle Taitei. Incidentally, those are the only Tezuka's animes that I watched; I watched the first 25 episodes from Tetsuwan Atom (the 2003 remake), and long, long ago I saw both Jungle Taitei and Ribbon no Kishi, but only vaguely recollect.
In the case of Ribbon no Kishi, I recall that the Spanish version had the most bizarre and unfitting ending of all times: an 80's styled band of girls and a retarded kid dancing and singing in an scenario, that can be viewed in YouTube. In spite of that, the song was catchy.

And a keychain. They didn't had the iconic Atom, so I picked Leo from Jungle Taitei because we share the same name.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sadamoto's Carmine

Yesterday I received Carmine, the latest artbook of Sadamoto Yoshiyuki.

When was announced, I decided to not purchase it because was way too expensive (13,000 yen) for the little extras that offered: an outer case; a cd with the pics of the book; 2 posters of Rei and Asuka; 2 reprint pictures and Sadamoto’s talks with Hosoda Mamoru (director of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars), Tsurumaki Kazuya (director of FLCL and Top Wo Nerae 2) and Anno Hideaki (director of Evangelion).

When I read in EvaGeeks that this limited edition included the contents from the previously released artbooks of Sadamoto, I hurried to order it on

To afford that step price, I canceled my preorders on Rei & Asuka Maid version by Kotobukiya (;_;) but the worst of it is that Carmine doesn't contains his previous artbooks and was just a misunderstanding from EvaGeeks people...
It was odd that the official page didn't said anything about any compilation, but when I read that info I taked it as true because that would explain that extremely pricey tag...

The book itself is nice. Is the 3rd atrbook by Sadamoto and 10 years had passed since the last one was released.
The first one was called Alpha, was released in 1993 and was focused in his main work at the moment, Fushigi no Umi no Nadia. Also it was my first purchase on-line.
The second one was Der Mond, released just in the popularity peak of Shin Seiki Evangelion, in 1999.

This book contains his main illustrations for Evangelion (mostly the DVDs covers and the color pages from the manga from volume 5 onwards), the promotional material for The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars, the covers for the .hack games (both the first series and G.U.) and his works for the rest of Gainax productions (FLCL, Top Wo Nerae 2 and just 2 pics for Fushigi no Umi no Nadia). There's a total of 102 pictures.

Since the artbook came with a CD with the pics, I can upload some of it without taking crappy photos.

I'm happy with the artbook because Sadamoto is my favorite character designer since 1993, but the problem with the book are the "extra" contents. Let's see:

-Hard cover and outer case. Pointless addition. And since I have space problems both here and in Spain, I rather prefer a softcover version...

- 30 pages of Sadamoto’s talks. Again pretty much pointless, since I'm buying an artbook and not a magazine. More useless if you don't even understand Japanese

-2 reprint pictures. Sounds cool, but are just 2 illustrations from the book printed on card stock. Again, pointless.

-A cd containing the pics of the book. More useful than the previous ones.

-2 posters of Rei and Asuka. This is the best extra, but even with it, it doesn't explain the over-priced set. I can't take pictures of them because I want to keep sealed until my arrival at Spain (to make sure that they don't bend during the trip) so I put a pic taken from Eva Kinkyuu News blog:
Carmine will be released as a "normal edition" later this year for about 3,000 yen, so I can't recommend this "limited edition" even if you are a hardcore collector like me, because 10,000 yen are wasted...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Chara☆Mel 8 & MELTY BLOOD Guidebook

Yesterday I purchased Chara☆Mel magazine and MELTY BLOOD Actress Again Kouryaku Guide.

I purchased Chara☆Mel because the extra dvd contained a CANAAN preview, but it just contains a few seconds of previously unseen material. I uploaded it on YouTube:

The magazine contains a few pages with info about it. Is scheduled to air this summer.

There's also a few pages for Idolmaster SP, specifically Hibiki.

Until today, I bought every single MELTY BLOOD Guide Book released, mostly for the in-game cuts than the strategic/movelist part.
I was hoping for Dust of Osiris (the new final boss) full body pics and dialogue portraits, but her cuts are missing. I supose they are waiting to release in another guidebook (Ichijinsha released 3 different guidebooks for Act Cadenza...)

At least it have all the endings:

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Idolm@ster Break! Volume 1

As I said in the March 4 entry, I wanted to buy the limited edition of the manga Idolm@ster Break! by Fujima Takuya because it contained download contents codes for iM@S SP, but at least in Kyoto, was already sold out when I tried to buy it in the release day.

Yesterday I received the copy that I purchased using Yahoo! Auctions + Shopping Mall Japan (and spending way too much in the process).

The extras were another Weiβ Schwarz card and two DLC cards: Blue Cross Pure (a Cute&Girly type dress) and Dakko Neko (a hand accesory). In the photo Azusa is wearing both, but is not really visible (is hard to take a picture of a moving tiny screen...).

The story is the stereotypical fanservice harem story: random 16-old-guy must work surrounded by girls of about his age.
Fujima is also the author of the manga version of Negima!? Neo, the spin-off of Akamatsu Ken's Mahou Sensei Negima and both the setting and the drawing style reminds me a lot of the only Akamatsu's manga that I read, Love Hina.
I expected a far worse manga, but I think is good enough to purchase the second volume when available.

The main cast. Ami & Mami, Azusa, Ritsuko and Makoto show up only in the extra 4-koma, joking about their absence in the manga.
The rival idols Hibiki and Takane appear in the last panel of the manga, so they will appear a lot in the next volume.

Iori playing her tsundere part.

Random page. The girls are wearing the new SP casual wear.

Now I'm playing iM@S only about an hour each day because I'm studying for the Japanese placement test that I'm having on April 3 at the university. My holidays are almost over ;_;

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sadamoto, Kubooka and Colorful Highschool

Today I'll post a short story of my otaku youth and a bit of field work research, too.

In '93 I watched Fushigi no Umi no Nadia and I fell in love with the character designs. Months later, I read in a videogames magazine that a Japanese RPG called Lunar: The Silver Star was causing furor in the US. Thanks to the tiny pic, I instantly assumed that the character designer of Lunar was also Sadamoto Yoshiyuki, designer of Nadia.
I was young and was the pre-Internet era, so I didn't realized of my mistake until years later, in 1995, when Shin Seiki Evangelion was announced.
I became an instant fan of Evangelion because of Sadamoto's designs, and realized that the person who drew the Lunar characters was in fact Kubooka Toshiyuki, who was the animation director of Fushigi no Umi no Nadia.

Left, Fushigi no Umi no Nadia cast.
Right, Lunar: The Silver Star cast.

After that, I more or less followed the works of both Sadamoto (FLCL, .hack series, Toki Wo Kakeru Shoujo...) and Kubooka (Lunar series, Giant Robo, iDOLM@STER...).

When the arcade version of The iDOLM@STER was released, it's aesthetics reminded me of a previously released arcade game also with Kubooka as the main designer and also released by Namco, but at the moment I didn't paid much attention because those kind of games are fated to never see the light of day outside Japan...

Now, obsesed with iM@S, I began to dig for information about that game, called Seishun Quiz: Colorful Highschool.
The game was released in the still unemulated (as far as I know) System 10 arcade board in 2003, but is almost unkown even inside Japan.
As a quiz game, it follow the steps of Capcom's Quiz Nanairo Dreams, but instead of moving randomly in a board game world, in Colorful Highschool you have to specifically date with the girls and make them happy answering correctly her questions.

I don't know why it doesn't became famous, because it really seems like an early iDOLM@STER game but changing the idol part with more traditional dating sim parts, but the main focus of the game is the "events", like the "Communications" in iM@S.
The girls' movements are like in iM@S (they MOVE, and not just change from static pose to static pose) but in 2D, and despite being only partially voiced, the seiyuu cast was well known.

The characters are:
Kanzaki Miku
The transfer student. Kind, modest and pretty much the default main heroine of the game. Asks about general knowledge. Voiced by Nasu Megumi.

Kujou Ayaka
The ojou-sama from a rich family. Intelligent, good at sports and overconfident. Asks stuff from the fashion and trendy world. Voiced by Takahashi Chiaki, who also voices Azusa in Idolmaster.

Shishido Megumi
The tomboy basketball team captain. Genki type. Asks about sports. Voiced by Saitou Chiwa.

Takamura Marie
The intellectual meganekko. Clumsy and otaku, so asks about that theme. Voiced by Ueda Kana (also Tohsaka Rin's voice!).

The game was re-released in 2008 for mobile phones, and there are rumors of a possible Nintendo DS port as a cheap alternative to PSP's iDOLM@STER...

There's not really much info on the net about this game, and most of it comes from the official site (worth checking, specially the sketches of the characters). Also, the user Misokatsu from Nico Nico Douga have uploaded a full playthrough until Ayaka best ending in his list.

EDIT: For the non-NicoNico users, I uploaded the first video on YouTube.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fate/stay night in Kobe

Yesterday I went all day to Kobe.
I don't enjoy sightseeing that much, and during my stay here I visited relatively few places, but Kobe was in my "absolutely must go" list.

The reason is that Fuyuki, the city where Fate/stay night takes place, is heavily based in Kobe.

First I went to Port Island to see the Kobe Oohashi:

Nice Boat.

Then I went to Kitano-cho, the foreign residences district:

The street to Kotomine's church in the game. Is not the exact angle, because I was unable to take the picture in the middle of the road.

The slope to the Western-styled residences.

And Tohsaka residence. In the game is sightly modified.

The real name is Weathercock House because of it's trademark vane, but it doesn't appear in any of the photos that I took (I fail as a photographer).

As a souvenir I purchased... The IdolM@ster SP Missing Moon. In the shop they still had the limited edition.