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Notes from the coffee mill...

January 2003

2002 in Review...

2002... a number of new as well as interesting titles have been coming out over the past year both in Japan as well as in North America. Perhaps the most interesting title for anime fans would be Spirited Away; Japan's #1 grossing movie and holder of the highest theatre attendance record there. DVD collectors however, were disappointed with the DVD release which had a definite reddish tint to the picture. North American fans on the otherhand were rather disappointed when it came to the release schedule. With an art house release, many fans missed out on being able to catch this movie. A shame as it was actually a very well done dub.

A fantastical story about a young girl who gains the self-confidence to save her parents and herself from Yu-baba, Spirited Away is well worth the watch on the big screen. Fans can only hope that the R1 DVD release will not have the same red tint as seen on the R2 version.

Detective Conan movie 6 (Phantom of Baker Street), released in theatres during Golden Week, 2002, was released to R2 DVD at the end of December. For Conan fans, this movie is yet another must see. For those new to the series, this movie (unlike the previous one) does not require previous knowledge of the storyline beyond what is revealed in the introduction. An intriguing techish story, viewers are kept wondering about certain story aspects until the very end.

In North America, two new shoujo anime titles have recently started to be released. Fruits Basket by Takaya Natsuki and His and Her circumstances by Tsuda. Fruits Basket, based on the highly popular manga series printed in Hana to Yume by Hakusensha, is directed by the popular director Daichi Akitaro. Also released in 2002 in North America by Daichi that is highly recommended would be Now and Then, Here and There (Ima Soko, NTHT). A short 13 episode series dealing with a wartorn world, it's very much for mature audiences.

Other titles from 2002 worth mentioning (in no particular order) include:

  • Hellsing
    A dark story recently released in North America very much for mature audiences
  • Kanon
    A variant on the guy surrounded with lots of girls, this melancholic series makes for a bitter sweet watch
  • Strawberry Eggs
    Reminiscent of a shounen version of Fruba (in feel; not plot), this series is another great character series
  • Witch Hunter Robin
    Another dark series, this shows lots of promise to be a most intriguing series
  • Hikaru no Go
    I-Go goes anime! Focussing on young Shindo Hikaru, this series looks at the world of i-go and what it takes to become a pro-player in Japan.
  • 12 Kokuki
    Based on the fantasy novel series by Ono Fuyumi, this series starts off rather slowly but depicts much more realistically how a person is likely to react when dropped in a new world. An epic fantasy series, the anime should prove to be most intriguing.
All in all, a number of intriguing titles with many continuing to be released in 2003. Likewise, there are some intriguing titles set to be released in 2003. So much to see, so little time...

Jane Nagatomi, 2003.01.05

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