Calling all Inuyasha fans. The saga of the dog-eared demon continues…

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Among the offerings for the anime fall season is a series that finally wraps up the Inuyasha saga.

When the show ended, there was no resolution and the bad guy, Naraku, along with his minions were still alive. I had to read the manga to know how Inuyasha, the half dog demon/half human, defeats Naraku, gets more sword techniques and deals with the Kikyo/Kagome issue.

So I welcome the new anime that aims to wrap up the popular show created by Rumiko Takahashi.

According to VIZ Media, INUYASHA THE FINAL ACT will stream on ShonenSunday.com/anime and Hulu.com hours after it airs in Japan. A new episode will air every Saturday.

The first episode is available for viewing at http://www.hulu.com/inuyasha-the-final-act
and at www.shonensunday.com/anime

If ya want to see a bigger version of the trailer, click on the screen on this page. A bigger screen should pop up.

Latest Naruto episodes in English

English-dubbed uncut episodes of “Naruto” started airing on Joost.com and Hulu.com on Wednesday, according to VIZ Media.

Joost and Hulu are online video services that offer TV shows, movies and clips for free. The first five episodes of “Naruto” were made available April 15 with a new English-dubbed episode launching every Wednesday. Each episode will stream on both Joost (US and Canada) and Hulu (US) for about five weeks then rotate off the site making room for the next new episodes.

Joost.com and Hulu.com began showing episodes of “Naruto” with English subtitles last September.

For more info on the show and if you want to watch free episodes of “Naruto Shippuden” (English subtitled), head to www.Naruto.com.

Free download of first episode of Blue Dragon

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As part of a promo, VIZ Media announced that the first episode of “Blue Dragon” can be downloaded for free on the iTunes Store until March 10. Go to www.itunes.com/tv/bluedragon.

The animated series is based on the Xbox 360 role playing game. As the company describes it: “Seven Soldiers of Light must awaken the Shadow within themselves in time to overcome a despotic power and bring peace to their land. Their ensuing journey through a rich fantasy world is also an internal journey to awaken the great power within each of them.”

The Xbox 360 game “Blue Dragon” was developed by Hironobu Sakaguchi who is the creator of Final Fantasy. The anime aired on TV Tokyo in Japan on April 7, 2007 and was produced by Studio Pierrot.

For more information on the show, head to Bluedragon.viz.com, which features trailers, character descriptions, artwork from the animation and news related to the show.

Shoujo titles this year from VIZ Media

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VIZ Media announced it will be releasing the following shojo manga series during the first quarter of 2009.

Published under the company’s Shojo Beat imprint, the new series will include “Heaven’s Will,” The Magic Touch” and “Otomen” as well as VIZBIG editions of “Fushigi Yugi” and “Hot Gimmick.”

The VIZBIG titles is bigger than a regular manga and has new cover art and added content such as author interviews, updated text and character art.

“FUSHIGI YUGI VIZBIG Rated “T+” for older teens. $17.99. Available now. The fantasy series is from Yu Watase, one of Japan’s top manga creators. It is a tale of a normal junior-high-school girl who is transported into a fictional version of ancient China after reading a strange book called “The Universe of the Four Gods”. While there she becomes a High Priestess and encounters an array of villains and dashing heroes but yet she still manages to worry about her grades and her next school banquet. Each VIZBIG edition contains three volumes, bonus color content, and updated text.

HOT GIMMICK VIZBIG Rated “T+” for older teens. $17.99. Available March 17, 2009
In tiny, company-owned rabbit-hutch apartments live tenants who can’t afford to live anywhere else. This apartment complex, in which high-school girl Hatsumi Narita lives, is ruled over by the rumor-mongering, self-righteous Mrs. Tachibana. Get on her bad side and life becomes hell. One day Hatsumi buys a pregnancy test for her popular but flirty sister Akane. Mrs. Tachibana’s son, Ryoki, who used to bully Hatsumi as a kid, promises not to tell the world about Hatsumi’s secret, only if she will become his slave. Soon after a boy named Azusa, who was Hatsumi’s protector in their youth, reappears to save her again! He’s moving back into the neighborhood, and despite a budding romance between Hatsumi and Azusa, Ryoki continues to have control over her through the secret pact that could ruin the lives of everyone in Hatsumi’s family. Usually a sensible and mild-mannered young girl, Hatsumi suddenly finds herself in a swirl of drama that threatens to drive her totally crazy.

Miki Aihara, who created “Hot Gimmick”, made her debut in 1991 with Lip Conscious!, which was published in the Bessatsu Shojo Comic anthology and she remains a major contributor to the magazine.

HEAVEN’S WILL Rated “T” for Teens. $8.99. Available now
Sudou Mikuzu has a very special talent/power – she can see ghosts. And because of this, she’s become a magnet for all sorts of unwelcome spirits and monsters. Lucky for her she’s just met Seto, a friendly, cross-dressing young exorcist. Sudou needs protection from all the creepy phantoms bugging her and Seto needs to practice his exorcism skills. Consequently, the pair decides to team up and help each other. In return for Seto’s help, Sudou promises to bake him a cake every time a ghost gets zapped!

Created by Satoru Takamiya, HEAVEN’S WILL first appeared as a short story in Chu Chu magazine, a Japanese shojo manga anthology for teen girls published by Shogakukan.

THE MAGIC TOUCH Rated “T+” for Older teens. $8.99. Available February 3, 2009.
Aside from being the star of her high school’s Massage Research Society club, Chiaki Togu is a normal, quiet girl–until she falls head over heels in love with a gorgeous back, which happens to belong to Yosuke, the hottest guy at her school! Unfortunately, Chiaki’s attraction to Yosuke is thwarted by her own insecurity and the scheming of other girls, especially those of her twin sister Sayaka! Although Yosuke seems out of Chiaki’s league, she will do almost anything to give him a massage. The two eventually strike a deal where she will be allowed to touch his back if she can make him fall in love with her. What Chiaki doesn’t know is the real reason Yosuke wants to hang around her: to avenge his younger brother, who was allegedly deceived and dumped by somebody named Chiaki Togu! Is this a simple case of mistaken identity or the beginning of a tragedy?

THE MAGIC TOUCH was created by Izumi Tsubaki, who began drawing manga during her first year of high school. She was soon selected to be among the Top 10 artists selected by manga anthology Hana to Yume and went on to win the publication’s Big Challenge manga contest. THE MAGIC TOUCH was a best seller in Japan.

OTOMEN Rated “T” for teens. $8.99 US. Available February 3, 2009
Asuka Masamune is a guy who loves girly things-sewing, knitting, making cute stuffed animals and reading shojo manga. But in a world where boys are expected to act manly, Asuka must hide his beloved hobbies and instead play the part of a masculine jock. Ryo Miyakozuka, on the other hand, is a girl who can’t sew or bake a cake to save her life. Asuka finds himself attracted to Ryo, but she likes only the manliest of men! Can Asuka ever show his true self to anyone, much less to the girl that he’s falling for?

OTOMEN, created by Aya Kanno, is currently being serialized in Japan’s BetsuHana magazine. OTOMEN is a best seller in Japan, with each new volume appearing in the Top 15 of Japan’s Tohan rankings that chart manga popularity and sales.”

VIZ and new partner launch line of anime and manga-related goods

Here’s the latest news from VIZ Media which could mean less money in the pockets of the anime and manga addicts out there.

“VIZ Media announced a partnership with Zazzle to launch a new line of J-Pop, manga and anime-inspired apparel, stationery, and other items. VIZ Media’s J-Pop Style Stop at Zazzle is located at www.zazzle.com/vizmedia and offers a variety of visually compelling and original designs inspired by a love of Japanese pop culture available on an on-demand basis with most products produced within 24 hours of ordering.

The Zazzle partnership represents VIZ Media’s first foray into the ‘on-demand’ arena and is focused initially on several original (non-licensed) designs. The result will allow fans and the general public to show their enthusiasm for Japanese pop culture in a unique way with fun designs. The partnership is the initial phase of a larger projected product rollout with Zazzle that will tentatively include shojo (female)-focused fashion designs and other special designs to come in 2009.

The first VIZ Media design phase offers graphics that are available through Zazzle.com on T-shirts, note cards, real US postage, bags, and other fun items. The program allows fans and the general public alike to show their adoration for manga and anime by being able to choose from some great designs and customize them to their liking. This first phase of designs will include graphics with wording such as a manga panel that says ‘I Love Manga’ and a similar one that says ‘I love Anime’, available on T-shirts, note cards, stamps, bags and more.

Digital printing is considered the leading technology for on-demand apparel customization. It provides literally millions of colors and makes it affordable to manufacture even a single item, as opposed to other more cumbersome processes, which offer a limited color palette and often require the customer to order in bulk quantities because of high setup costs.

This partnership is just the first step for VIZ Media into the original design and the ‘on demand’ world – both of which will better serve fans old and new. This launch is the beginning of a projected ‘bigger picture’ rolls out with Zazzle, which ultimately may include more shojo-focused fashion designs, bigger statement ‘otaku’ (fan of anime and manga) designs and additional popular designs

Some of the new J-Pop designs were also included in the official gift bags that were distributed to the talent that presented and performed at the 2008 SPIKE TV Video Game Awards in December, where the VIZ Media-licensed video game, Ubisoft’s Naruto: The Broken Bond, was one of the nominees for Best Game Based on a Movie or TV Show.”

Naruto Shippuden news

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I enjoys fansubs like a lot of anime fans because I get to watch a series airing currently or just finished airing in Japan. However, I always make a point to buy the licensed versions of shows I like.

With the advent of the Internet, it has made it easier and faster for anime fans to see current shows. Not surprisingly, some anime companies are opting to license a series even before it finishes its run in Japan or they’re choosing to show episodes online.

VIZ media announced that beginning January 15, it will begin streaming “Naruto Shippuden” just days after being shown in Japan. It will be free and available at www.Naruto.com There will also be an accelerated publishing plan for the “Naruto” manga beginning in February 2009.

“Naruto Shippuden” picks up the tale after a now 15-year-old Naruto returns to Konoha from his training with Jiraiya. Everyone in his group has advanced in rank except him. Gaara is now Kazekage and Sakura is now a medical ninja.

Here’s the release from VIZ:

“This campaign is the latest expansion of VIZ Media’s ongoing strategy to utilize the web to its maximum potential to stream a variety of hit animated properties.

Beginning on January 15, the latest episode of “Naruto Shippuden” (English-subtitled) will be available for free viewing on the official “Naruto” website, www.Naruto.com, within days of its original air date in Japan. A new English-subtitled episode will be added every Thursday thereafter.

On January 2nd, VIZ Media will also debut for free, eight uncut, English-subtitled episodes from the beginning of the “Naruto Shippuden” series on www.Naruto.com. Each Friday thereafter there will be an additional eight uncut, English-subtitled episodes added on Naruto.com until the series eventually catches up to the current third season of the hit program. Also, coming this week, an exclusive sneak peek of “Naruto Shippuden” debuting on Naruto.com.

On the manga side, VIZ Media has unveiled an accelerated publishing schedule for upcoming editions of the “Naruto” series, making them available to North American audiences sooner than ever before offered by VIZ Media. Beginning in February 2009, 11 new volumes of “Naruto” will be released over three months, moving the series from Volume 34 (February 2009) to Volume 44 (April 2009) before returning to a quarterly release schedule beginning with Volume 45 (July 2009).

Earlier “Naruto” episodes are also currently available for free through a variety of web-based, video streaming outlets that have partnered with VIZ Media, including HULU and JOOST.”

Bleach posters

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VIZ Media is releasing a special Shonen Jump “Bleach” Posterzine, which features 11 posters inspired by the manga and animated series created by Tite Kubo.

The $9.99 Posterzine will be on sale starting Dec. 2. Each poster folds out to 16″ x 22″ and depicts Ichigo, his friends and villains. The special publication will also include two free “Bleach” sticker sheets and an iTunes gift card valid for a free download of episode 59 of the animated series and access to an interview with Tite Kubo. (NOTE: don’t think it means you can interview Kubo.)

And for those of you who haven’t heard of the show, here is a synopsis from VIZ: “Bleach” follows the story of Ichigo Kurosaki, a 15-year-old student with the ability to see ghosts. His fate takes an extraordinary turn when he meets Rukia Kuchiki, a Soul Reaper who shows up at Ichigo’s house on the trail of a Hollow, a malevolent lost soul. Drawn to Ichigo’s high level of spiritual energy, the Hollow attacks Ichigo and his family, and Rukia steps in to help but is injured and unable to fight. As a last resort, Rukia decides to transfer part of her Soul Reaper powers to Ichigo.

Naruto, Bleach and Death Note: uncut, original and online

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VIZ Media announced that original uncut versions of “Naruto”, “Bleach” and “Death Note” will be available on Hulu.com. For free.

The episodes carry English subtitles. Hulu is an online video service.

“Naruto” and “Death Note” launched in the United States on Hulu this week. “Bleach” and new episodes of each title will be added regularly on Hulu. (I’m assuming “Bleach” episodes aren’t on there yet.)

Here’s a synopsis of the shows by VIZ Media for those who haven’t heard about these series.

“Naruto” (http://www.hulu.com/naruto) Created by Masashi Kishimoto, the series depicts the adventures of a young boy named Uzumaki Naruto who trains to become a ninja. The boy is cursed with the spirit of a nine-tailed fox demon and is forced to live a bullied life discriminated against by his fellow villagers. Naruto is resilient and undaunted in his quest to become a master ninja and his determination often inspires those around him. Through amazing adventures, the young ninja learns the importance of friendship, teamwork, loyalty, hard work, creativity, ingenuity, and right vs. wrong. Dedicated website at www.naruto.com.

“Death Note” (http://www.hulu.com/death-note) is based on the manga series of the same name. Light Yagami is an ace student with great prospects but is bored out of his mind. All of that changes when he finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by a rogue Shinigami death god. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies, and now Light has vowed to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of evil. But when criminals mysteriously begin dropping dead, the authorities send the legendary detective L to investigate, and he is soon hot on the trail of Light, who must now reevaluate his one noble goal. Dedicated website at www.deathnote.viz.com.

“Bleach” is the story of 15-year-old Ichigo Kurosaki who was born with the ability to see ghosts. When his family is attacked by a Hollow – a malevolent lost soul – Ichigo encounters a Soul Reaper and absorbs her powers. Now he has dedicated his life to protecting the innocent and helping the tortured souls find peace. Dedicated website at www.bleach.viz.com.

Shoujo Attack: Time traveling princess with a magic cane

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A recent addition to VIZ Media’s Shoujo Beat Manga lineup is “Time Stranger Kyoko” which is definitely aimed for the teen and pre-teen crowd.

It is now the 30th century and for some inexplicable reason, earth’s countries decided to band together and just become one kingdom called Earth Nation. It’s ruled by a king who keeps himself young thanks to the latest technology (plastic surgery, I suppose) and has a weird cat/android pet named Chocola.

His heirs are his twin daughters: Kyoko and Ui Suomi. But Ui has been asleep since she was a baby. She’s actually trapped in time.

Kyoko has been attending a local school incognito because she refuses to take the throne. She’s watched over by Sakataki Jin and his older brother, Hizuki Jin, who are the last members of the Dragon tribe. They’re dragon/human hybrids.

We meet Kyoko just before her 16th birthday bash which she refuses to attend because she thinks she won’t be able to go to school and mingle with the commoners anymore. This despite her father telling her people are rioting and want her to take over her responsibilities.

She comes off as very selfish in the first chapter of Volume 1 and I must say, Kyoko did not endear herself to me when her father offered her an out and she grabbed it. If she wakes up her sister Ui, the younger twin can take over the royal mantle and she would be free. In a side note, the author, Arina Tanemura, took the time to explain to readers Kyoko probably sounds selfish but she isn’t really. Uh huh, right.

To wake up her sister, Kyoko must start the giant clock underneath Ui’s bed. In order to do that, she must find the 12 God stones scattered around the planet along with the 12 telepaths who can use the stones. The first stone was easy since it and a pocket watch were hidden undernearth the clock.

When The Destroyers, a band of thieves led by a guy called Witzig, appears outside the school gates, Kyoko finally unveils who she is to protect her classmates. The time stone that she couldn’t activate then starts yakking at her and turns into the Scorpion Cane which can manipulate time. She whacks Witzig on the head and the smitten fool retreats.

Witzig would pop in and out of later chapters often riding his giant pet snake. He’s obviously the comedy relief.

Kyoko learns more of what the cane can do in other adventures and readers learn the history of the Dragon Tribe and why its last two surviving members ended up as bodyguards to this teenage princess.

Our heroine also adjusts her goal from fobbing off her duties to a younger sibling to waking up said sister who she believes is in distress.

The character designs are classic shoujo meaning huge eyes, small mouth and lots of long wavy hair. Except for the chapter about the Dragon Tribe’s demise, volume 1 is mostly light on drama and heavy on the comedy.

So if you’re looking for a soap opera-like manga, this is not the series for you.

DVD releases from VIZ Media

Got this in the mail from VIZ Media. It’s their latest DVD releases. Oh my poor wallet…

“The releases include DVD box sets and special editions containing limited edition collectible figurines.

DEATH NOTE Volume 6. Four episodes Available August 26
The Yotsuba Group enlists an investigator to uncover L’s identity, while Misa, who’s been hired as their spokesperson, does some investigating of her own. When she discovers the identity of the owner of the Death Note, it’s a race between the killer and the task force — who will catch up to the other first? Time is of the essence, especially when the new Kira makes the trade for the Shinigami Eyes!

BLEACH Volume 11: THE RESCUE Four episodes. Available now
While trying to evade the pursuing Soul Reapers and rescue Rukia, Orihime and Uryu are confronted by the captain of Squad 12, the despicable Mayuri Kurotsuchi, who plans on using them as guinea pigs for his experiments! Meanwhile, Yoruichi has revealed her true form to the astonishment of Ichigo and the others, and must use all her tricks and skills to keep her fellow intruders from losing everything for which they’ve fought so hard.

BLEACH Volume 12: THE RESCUE Four episodes. Available Sept. 23
Lieutenant Momo Hinamori recalls her days in training at the Soul Reaper Academy, where she first met Captain Sosuke Aizen. In the present, the letter Aizen left for her at his death scene leads Momo to believe she has identified his killer… While Ichigo and Renji train with Yoruichi to achieve bankai, Rukia recalls a bit of her own past in a dream that she believes will prepare her to face her execution–which has been moved up to the next day!

NARUTO UNCUT, Vol. 9 special edition box set. three DVDs. Available now
Naruto returns to the Hidden Leaf Village to find Sasuke, frustrated with Naruto’s sudden growth, thirsting to fight to decide who the better ninja is once and for all. Kakashi stops the fight before the worst can happen, but soon Orochimaru’s henchmen arrive in the village to lure Sasuke to Orochimaru with the promise of greater power, a promise Sasuke can’t refuse. In order to retrieve Sasuke, newly appointed chunin Shikamaru forms a squad of genin, including Naruto, to pursue the terrifying Sound Ninja Four. Will they catch up before Orochimaru gets his hands on Sasuke? Let the chase begin. Special Edition Box Set comes with a Limited Edition Collectible: Summoning Creature – Manda.

NARUTO Volume 25: THE BOND OF SHINOBI. Four episodes. Available now
Naruto and Jiraiya head home with Tsunade and Shizune in tow, and the four stop at a hot spring resort for a little relaxation and an unexpected adventure. But at home again in Hidden Leaf Village, it’s back to business. Tsunade’s first task: heal the injured ninja. The others are successfully revived, but Tsunade has bad news for Rock Lee. While the village cheerfully prepares for Tsunade’s inauguration as Fifth Hokage, Rock Lee must ponder the possibility that he will never fulfill his ninja dreams.

NARUTO Volume 26: THE RACE IS ON! Four episodes. Available now.
Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura are on the ultimate mission: discover what Kakashi looks like behind his mask! Then, Tsunade sends Squad Seven to the Land of Tea and the village of Degarashi, where every four years two rival families hold a race to decide who will rule the village for the next four years. Jirocho, who represents the Wasabi family, asks the teammates to protect their runner, Idate. But the task proves difficult when Idate, who has nothing but contempt for ninja, takes off running the wrong way!

NARUTO Volume 27: THE BATTLE BEGINS. Four episodes. Available Sept. 2.
Naruto has always thought of Sasuke as a friend, but when Sasuke awakens in the hospital to discover that Naruto has grown stronger, Naruto finds himself on the receiving end of Sasuke’s fury. It’s Chidori vs. Rasengan! Kakashi steps in to stop the battle, while in the shadows Orochimaru’s Sound Ninja Four steal their way into the village with an offer for Sasuke he may not be able to refuse! Will the promise of greater power lure Sasuke away from everything he’s known and everyone who cares about him – forever?!

NARUTO Volume 28: SOUND vs. LEAF. Four episodes. Available Sept. 30.
News of Sasuke’s departure reaches the Fifth Hokage, who immediately gives new chunin Shikamaru his first mission as leader–bring back Sasuke! Shikamaru recruits some of his best friends for the job: Naruto, Choji, Neji and Kiba. With a chunin and four top genin on their heels, the sound Ninja Four race to get Sasuke over the border and into Orochimaru’s hands. The Leaf ninja use all their wiles to ambush the Four, but find themselves trapped in a giant dome of earth that’s sucking up every last drop of their chakra!.

INUYASHA SEASON 5. Deluxe Box Set. Five DVDs. Available Now.
Half-demon Inuyasha, modern-day schoolgirl Kagome and their companions face their deepest fears and worst nightmares as their quest to find the Sacred Jewel shards continues in this exciting fifth season box set. The deadly Band of Seven, a group of mercenaries executed for their crimes, have returned from the dead to wreak havoc, and Inuyasha is determined to stop them. But the battle leads them all to the sacred and mysterious Mount Hakurei, where a barrier not only renders demons, including Inuyasha, powerless, but also hides a terrible secret about their worst enemy–Naraku! The Deluxe Box Set includes 5 DVDs and also features a special “Sesshomaru Wall Scroll” and bonus Inuyasha footage.

RANMA SEASON 7: RANMA FOREVER. Five DVDs. Available now.
It’s not easy being teenage martial artist Ranma Saotome, but it’s even worse when your martial-artist father Genma takes you from home at an early age to go on a decade-long training mission. He doesn’t speak a word of Chinese, and yet he insists upon bringing you to the cursed training ground known as Jusenkyo, where falling into one of the many springs there instantly turns you into whoever – or whatever – drowned there last. And then, the two of you have this little accident…

From now on, a splash of cold water will turn your father into a giant panda, while you… well, you turn into a red-haired (and problematically well-built) female version of yourself. Hot water will reverse the effect, but only until the next time. What’s a half-guy, half-girl to do?”