Holiday Suggestions, Manga, Manga Monday, valentines day

Manga Monday: Princess Ai

We’re pretty sure that Courtney Love never really meant Princess Ai to be polarizing.

 

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Princess Ai is a really frothy 2004 manga series in three parts (and sequels/prequels) with a gothic lolita edge and lyrics… lots of lyrics.  Lots, and lots, and lots of lyrics.

A quick summary:
Lead character Ai is dropped in a nameless city (think… SanFranSokyo of Big Hero 6), memories wiped, with nothing but a small, precious, heart-shaped box that seems ever-so-important.  (Yes, it’s one of those stories.)  After meeting her first few side characters, the natural thing to do is get a job, so she does…  As a nightclub performer, she gets picked up by a label for her “angelic” voice, and creates a sensational following over the course of the series, and slowly gathers the little tidbits of her history that mean less and less to her in this new world but gives her more and more clarity about what is important to her now.

Princess Ai had a lot of classic tropes for fangirls at the time of its publishing:

  • Immediate love interest
  • Library and people who love books
  • Mysterious and easy-reach backstory
  • Quirky side characters
  • Lush pop-idol costumes
  • Winged dudes and dudettes (dragon and feathers)

About the music:

When reading Princess Ai for the first time, I had been listening to symphonic rock a lot – which meant classically trained opera singers backed by slammin’ electric guitars.  Think… Nightwish and Kamelot.  It pairs well with her Gothic Lolita/Punk look throughout the series, but then Tokyopop (proudly) released a few videos that could have… might have… should have launched an anime:


It didn’t.

Princess Ai did have a pretty sizable fan community during its release, but despite the resurgence of Tokyopop, it may take some extra push to get this angel off the ground if they feel like re-launching their attempt.  There’s also the polarizing influence of Tokyopop itself which, despite its relaunch, is trying really hard to make itself relevant again.

(Quick Opinion: I want to take a moment to mention that the problem with the video isn’t so much the song, or the sequences… It’s actually a really lovely animation sequence, and is pretty nuanced as a whole.  I think it’s because the readers all had a different voice for Ai in their head – and with that voice came expectations… and with those expectations came a bar.  Which seems to be the case with most fandoms – whether it reaches the bar or not.)
FINAL THOUGHTS:
If you’re in need of a frothy Valentine read, you might as well read Princess Ai.  Ai Yazawa’s art is on par with CLAMP for frilly Gothic Lolita, and the tankonbon with all three volumes is probably the best way to read it.  You can follow it up with Kamisama Kiss or even Angel Beats when you’re done.  I’d probably recommend it.

 

On this day in history, last year, we posted a heartstruck anime list, which you can find here. Happy Manga Monday, and we’ll see you again on Sunday!  Check back next Manga Monday – guests to be announced on Fandom Friday!

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Anime Primer, Anime Suggestion Trail, Manga, Manga Monday

Manga Monday: EXCLUSIVE interview with Kit Windsor of Foxy and Wolfy: CHAOS

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Libraries, Intrigue, Foxgirls in wheelchairs, Lolita style and secret societies!   That’s the at-a-glance description of Foxy and Wolfy: Chaos, a manga-style indie comic conceived and written by Kitsune Windsor.  The creator of Foxy and Wolfy took some time to talk with Anime Binge about some of the more unique aspects of the shoujou comic, as well as some anime inspirations and recommendations of his own.

[NOTE: MILD UNMARKED SPOILERS AHOY]

 

Kitsune Windsor:  I’m Kit Windsor, nice to meet you!

Anime Binge: Let’s talk about “Foxy and Wolfy” first.  It struck me as REALLY interesting that one of the two main characters (Wolfy/Amaya) was born in Iran… can we talk about it just a little?

Kit W.:   Sure, there are a few reasons why.  One is that my prom date and friend was from Iran and experienced some of the life and everything.  Also being LGBT is very dangerous, so [I] modeled Amaya Bellerose after my friend, a strong Iranian lady.

I made Amaya come from Iran to show that they have great people.

AB:  That’s really great!  I love that the main couple are completely devoted to each other.

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Kit W.: It plays a big part later on, the spiritual bonds

AB:  That makes sense. Actually, you have a lot of different characters with cultural ties, and two of the three main characters are wheelchair bound. It plays very naturally in the comic. How did it come about?

Kit W.: I myself have muscular dystrophy and use a wheelchair daily. Misaki represents doing your best with what you have and enjoying life.

Roza is severely disabled, but lives happily. She flirts, is smart and just a human being…

Both parts of me.  They’re meant to show disabled as just people

AB:  They really add texture – and having them both there as a part of the main trio doesn’t put all the pressure on one character to be “the girl in the wheelchair”. They’re both equally unique in their own ways.

Are there any big things happening at F & W Central?

Kit W.: Currently making book 0 to better explain our world and it will be ready Valentine’s day [2017]. Then updating book 1 and will be ready by June. Then Kickstarter for book 3 late May.

We want top quality.

AB: Ah! Prequels are a great addition to a series.

Kit W.: New style is amazing.

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AB: Actually, I’m going to take a second to gush a little bit. The black and white art is beautiful, but the coloring to the books so far has been really lush and amazing. Why did you (and your team members) make a decision to include a colorist with the launch? Has it been worth it?

Kit W.: Color versions are for Kickstarters and Gofundme only, we have a new colorist as the original was too busy. She’s an awesome lady.

Some prefer our b/w.

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AB: I can completely understand – most Manga is exclusively in B&W, so it makes sense.

Let’s talk a little about inspiration. Foxgirls, Kitsune, and spirit stories are sprinkled throughout Japanese folklore – do you have a story or an anime that you feel influenced your team?

Kit W.: F/W has deep inspiration from Sailor Moon, D. Gray Man and Madoka. To smaller degree Inuyasha and Fairy Tail.

Also, I love Ghibli.

AB:  Ghibli is SO cool.  I can see Sailor Moon, for sure.  I’m a little surprised to hear D. Gray Man, though.

Kit W.:  See, Alan walker wanted peace so bad.  Everyone else didn’t.  Misaki started her group for peace; they pay dearly for their unpopular views one day.

AB:  It sounds like it’s going to be intense.

Kit W.:  It will, we have a lot planned.

AB: The lush visuals and rich illustrations reminded me of Trinity Blood – are there any “vintage” shows that you’d recommend? Classics worth introducing to new would-be anime fans?

Basically, what is your “Anime Primer”?

Kit W.:  Record of Lodoss War is vintage, I really enjoyed Trinity Blood.  Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, Outlaw Star, Shinsekai Yori, Ranma ½, Escaflowne, Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away.

And Berserk.

AB:  Cowboy Bebop and Trigun were two of my first ones.

Kit W.:  My first one was odd.

AB:  Which one was it?

Kit W.:  Nuku Nuku and Ninja Scroll, as a kid.   Ninja Scroll was a bit rough.

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AB:  I’ll bet!  Mine was so odd I had to look it up to see if it actually existed or not – AND if they qualified as anime. (Spoiler alert: They did – Superbook and Flying House.)

Kit W.:  I like obscure.

AB:  Obscure can be fun.

Let’s say someone has read ALL of Foxy and Wolfy.  What would you send them to go watch while the team works on your next book?

Kit W.:  Shinsekai Yori, Madoka, Aijin, Inuyasha, Ranma, D. Gray – All of it.  F/W is about differences and racism.

AB:  It’s hard to keep a cast diverse but easy to keep them all the same.  I really appreciate that you are willing to tackle those questions with your characters.

So, last question: When I first contacted you, I was curious about a few things.  One was how your team got in touch with each other – are you a remote team, were you buddies in real life – how did it come about?

Kit W.: Actually, I started hiring concept artists and slowly built a team.  The [B&W] current artist asked to join.

AB:  Kit, thank you again so much for taking the time to chat with me!

Kit W.:  Thanks for taking interest.

 

 

 

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News Flash!, The Binge

News Flash! Crunchymation Rising

It’s that time of year – the time when we put up our phones and quit playing Pokemon Go for the winter and find warm blankets to hibernate under.  It’s Anime-and-Chill season, or rather, AnimeBinge season.  With winter breaks coming up, Thanksgiving Holidays in the US, an other holidays around the world, there’s no better time to hunker down and watch a show that you’ve been meaning to get around to.

With that in mind, we thought it might be a good idea to bring you a little news from the anime world.  If you already have a Funimation or Crunchyroll subscription, you should have already gotten some updates about this.

Funimation + Crunchyroll = better subs on Funimation and new dubs on pre-subbed Crunchyroll shows

But what does this mean for the average fan of either format?

  1.  Funimation is taking on the role of distributor of the merchandise and video releases for the two companies at this time.  (Crunchyroll will no longer be offering purchase/pc download options for videos on their own site)
  2. Some Funimation subs will be taken down (standard rotation – think of how Disney never releases their entire movie collection in one year – they parse them out to create scarcity), and others will be replaced by Crunchyroll versions of the subtitling.
  3. This is not an official merger.  Since it’s a distribution partnership, they could disentangle and go their separate ways whenever they feel like it, and neither of them should necessarily lose any traction in the anime distribution circuit because of it.
  4. They’re hoping that the simulcast season will be tighter with the merge, and have been throwing around the phrase “within 2-4 weeks of broadcasting”… but they are putting emphasis more on the expanded capability of having a broader skilled team to create amazing work.
  5. The subscription for Funimation does NOT cover the  streaming services available at Crunchyroll (with their free vs premium service) and Vice Versa.  Funimation lowered the price of their premium plan to help subscribers buy both subscription plans (the Crunchyroll plan and Funimation Premium plan)

 

(And if you know all of that already – that’s PERFECTLY FINE.  But: I’m looking to add more content to the blog, and I’m really curious – what have you been watching?  What series are you excited about?  What do you think about Miyazaki’s choice to – AGAIN – come out of retirement?  Leave me your comments, I’d love to hear them!)

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The Binge

Election Day Special: Anime to watch after you go vote.

Ahem… if you are in the US, Go vote. 

If you are not in the US, we at AnimeBinge are sorry that we’ve been all preachy about voting this year.  And weird with our candidates.  We’re so sorry, that we decided to compose a list of imaginary ballot issues in hopes that you will forgive us for this weirdness that happens once every four years.

Why?  Because #betterfictionalcandidates should have never had to exist, that’s why.  So why not embrace it.

But Anime Bracket did that better.

We’re not mad about it.  But, as usual, we do have a few series to suggest.

Le Chevalier D’eon

On the run from the law, D’eon is accused of the death of his sister – Lia de Beaumont.  Something sinister is at the edge of this mystery – possession, zombies, obsession, politics…  how was D’eon to know that his life would become so weird, so quickly?

  • Reasons to watch:
    • Great to compare/contrast with newer anime – some of the frames are very carefully staged, with hand-drawn animation.  Also worth contrasting with Pilgrim’s Progress
    • One of the best EARLY examples of a strong female protagonist in anime
  • Reasons to avoid:
    • Intermittently S….l….o….w… pacing.
  • What to watch instead:
    • Glass Fleet
    • Revolutionary Girl Utena

Castle Town Dandelion

Eight kids. One throne. Sounds like a set-up to Game of Thrones, anime edition.  Well, you’d be wrong.  This one’s a slice-of-life magical-teen edition.  In a world with a polite monarchy, the kind townspeople decide to choose a king.

  • Reasons to watch:
    • Twins, Fanclubs, Idol stories, School arcs, Magic
  • Reasons to avoid:
    • A frustrating amount of “panty shot” jokes
      • (But they’re an anime staple and there are less of them at the end, so YMMV)

Lord Marksman and Vanadis

Go read this review, because it’s pretty on point.

Anime Binge is working on ramping up posts again.  What anime are you watching post-election?  What are you excited about coming out?  We’d love to hear your comments!

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