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Japan

Watch, Out!

In the about-time department, perhaps, IDW have published a new Yo-Kai Watch full-color comic book series this spring. According to them: “The hit anime, manga and toy sensation from Japan comes to North American comics! Join Nate and his Yo-Kai, Whisper, as they battle against ill-intentioned Yo-Kai causing terrible trouble in their hometown!” Previously, Viz Media licensed the original Yo-Kai Watch manga by Noriyuki Konishi for release in North America. This new comic, however, is completely home grown: Eric M. Esquivel (Bravest Warriors) is the writer, with art by Tina Franscisco (Strawberry Shortcake) and Dono Sanchez Almara (Turbo Defiant). It’s available now. And, of course, the Yo-Kai Watch anime series is running on Disney XD, if you didn’t know. (Our thanks to Anime News Network for help with this article).

image c. 2017 IDW Publishing

 

Still There Are Cities To Stomp

Another giant monster comic — this time, a black & white classic returns. According to Previews: “The giant kaiju return to ravage the Earth in the first volume of cult genre legend Mike Wolfer’s War Monsters! Originally released in 1987-89, Wolfer’s Daikazu series was his first published work, and issues #1-5 of the giant monster rumble are collected here for the first time ever in one giant volume! On a remote Pacific island, a group of strangers accidentally stumble upon the secret, underground base of a mad geneticist responsible for the creation of two gigantic behemoths, and only the ancient ‘god’ Daikazu stands against them in an earth-shaking battle that climaxes in downtown Tokyo!” The first issue arrives with a Bang at the end of November.

image c. 2016 by Mike Wolfer

image c. 2016 by Mike Wolfer

We… are the Crystal Pokemon…

The mighty machine that is Pokemon carries on — and no, we don’t mean Pokemon Go either. Pokemon Adventures: Ruby & Sapphire is the latest black & white manga to hit North America; coming to us thanks to Viz Media. “Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald face a new crisis of epic proportions: a giant meteor hurtling toward the planet! Don’t miss these awesome new adventures inspired by the best-selling Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire video games and picking up where the Pokémon Adventures Ruby and Sapphire saga left off!” Illustrated by Satoshi Yamamoto and written by Hedenori Kusaka, this new digest-sized manga is available now. Anime News Network has this and a whole lot more brand-new Pokemon stuff as well.

image c. 2016 Viz Media

image c. 2016 Viz Media

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A Girl and her Bear in the Country

Here’s one from Japan we almost missed. Kuma Miko: Girl Meets Bear is a black & white manga series by Masume Yoshimoto, originally published by Media Factory. Now One Peace Books are bringing the collected first series to North America in digest form. It’s the story of a young teenage girl named Machi who lives in a remote mountain village. She’s a Miko (a shinto shrine maiden) and she has never left her idyllic native home.  But now she’s thinking about moving to the big city to attend high school. That doesn’t sit well with her best friend: Natsu Kumai, a talking bear. A tie-in anime series of Kuma Miko premiered in Japan this year; maybe we’ll get to see that our way soon too!

image c. 2016 Media Factory

image c. 2016 Media Factory

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More Rabbits With Attitude

There’s a temptation to say “Only in manga, folks…” Check this out: “Kokuryuu Kaguya was only a little boy when he witnessed his father murdered by demons. He spent years trying to convince people about what he witnessed, but was dismissed as a traumatized child with an over-active imagination. Now a teenager, Kaguya still remembers what happened. One day, Kaguya is struck by a mysterious light and meets a young woman named Mao—a skillful warrior wearing bunny ears—who rescues him from a demons’ attack, then demands to know what planet he’s from! Kaguya finds himself inducted into a secret organization of other-worldly individuals whose goal is to defend Earth from monstrous invaders. Reborn as a Battle Rabbit, strange powers awaken within Kaguya which allow him to fight these creatures and seek vengeance for his father’s death.” Battle Rabbits is written by Yuki Amemiya and illustrated in black & white by Ichihara Yukino. Now it’s been released as a trade paperback in North America by Seven Seas Entertainment.

image c. 2016 Seven Seas

image c. 2016 Seven Seas

Guardians of the Spirit Realm

From Humanoids, Inc comes Izuna, a new full-color hardcover graphic novel Bruno Letizia, Saverio Tenuta, and Carita Lupatelli. “Since the dawn of time, the Izuna Wolves have been the protectors of the Sacred Tree. They fiercely oppose the Noggo demons, maintaining an invisible boundary between the human world and the spirit. However, the mysterious birth of a wolf cub in the shape of a young girl threatens to upset this delicate balance. Letzia’s lyrical script expands Tenuta’s rich universe of The Legends of the Scarlet Blades, while Lupattelli’s delicately painted art is the work of a star in the ascendant.” No prizes for guessing: Similar legends inspired Hayao Miyazaki’s well-known work Princess Mononoke. You can find out more over at the Humanoids, Inc. web site.

image c. 2016 Humanoids, Inc.

image c. 2016 Humanoids, Inc.

It’s A Catastrophe!

[We are so, so sorry for that one…] Earlier this year you may recall we mentioned an upcoming animated feature called Blazing Samurai. Well now thanks to Cartoon Brew we have a lot more information about it! “Arriving stateside August 4, 2017, from AMC Entertainment and Regal Entertainment’s Open Road Films, Blazing Samurai stars Michael Cera, Samuel L. Jackson, Ricky Gervais, George Takei, Gabriel Iglesias, Aasif Mandvi, Djimon Hounsou, Michelle Yeoh, Sandra Tsing Loh, Mel B., Heavenly Joy Jerkins, and Mel Brooks himself as a madcap array of cats and dogs comedically battling for samurai supremacy not in the Wild West but the faraway Japanese East. Co-directed by Alvin and the Chipmunks and Garfield animation supervisor Chris Bailey and veteran Disney animator Mark Koetsier, Blazing Samurai also features art direction from New Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show and Steven Universe’s Kevin Dart. Toronto, Canada-based CG animation and visual effects shop Arc Productions (Gnomeo & Juliet) is the lead animation house.” What’s more, Lion King / Mr. Peabody & Sherman director Rob Minkoff is on board as one of the producers. Quite a lot of big names attached to this project!

image c. 2015 Open Road Films

image c. 2015 Open Road Films

The Rabbit Gets Bigger

It’s no news to anyone by now that Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai is not only one of the most celebrated anthropomorphic comics ever, but one of the most celebrated comics, period! Well now Dark Horse Press have announced that the ronin rabbit’s adventures will soon be presented as they deserve: Bigger, and in full color! No, not a Usagi animated film (yet), but use this to tide you over: The Usagi Yojimbo Gallery Edition, Volume 1. This large format hardcover (12 by 17 inches) features the Usagi origin story Samurai as well as the very first Usagi comic, plus never-before-seen artwork and a new introduction by Stan Sakai. Check it out over at Barnes & Noble.

image c. 2015 Dark Horse Press

image c. 2015 Dark Horse Press

Nobody Move Or The Doggy Gets It!

Over at Cartoon Brew there’s a new article about an upcoming animated film called Blazing Samurai. Does that title sound a little familiar? Maybe it’s because the whole idea of the movie is an animated re-make of Mel Brooks’ classic western comedy Blazing Saddles — but this time, with dogs. And samurai. Yes. “In this version, a dog named Hank travels to a small town in ancient Japan to fulfill his dream of becoming a samurai. He discovers the town is populated entirely by cats, and must overcome prejudice while learning how to be a great warrior from a once-great samurai cat named Jimbo. Chris Bailey, who directed the Disney short Runaway Brain and animation directed Alvin And The Chipmunks, and veteran animator/story artist Mark Koetsier will co-direct from a screenplay by Ed Stone and Nate Hopper.” The film is being distributed by Open Road Films, who last year brought us The Nut Job. Check out the rest of the article, and look for Blazing Samurai to hit movie screens in April of 2017.

image c. 2015 Open Road Films

image c. 2015 Open Road Films