Next Club Meeting: April 20, 2024, at the Fountaindale Public Library in Bolingbrook from 11:00 am - 5:00 pm

The Animatrix Network is an anime & manga fan club located in the Southwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. We usually meet on the third Saturday of each month (except when holidays or conventions coincide). The meetings are free and open to the public. Join us for a day filled with anime.

This site provides news, reviews, commentaries, and previews of the world of anime and everything it inspires, such as live-action films, comics, music, art, and other weird things to enjoy and contemplate.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Newsletter - March 2011

News: Mermaid Forest Screenwriter Shōichirō Ōkubo Passes Away posted on 2011-02-12 09:46 EST
Also contributed to Lupin III, Ninja Hattori-kun, Ganbare!! Tabuchi-kun!!
Screenwriter Shōichirō Ōkubo passed away due to a stroke in a Tokyo hospital on February 11 at 4:30 p.m. He was 63. 
Ōkubo, whose original name was Masaichirō Ōkubo, was born in Fukui City in central Japan. He wrote screenplays for the period drama Mito Kōmon and numerous other live-action television series such as Hana no Arashi and Shabon Tama. He also wrote the screenplay for the original video anime based on Rumiko Takahashi's Mermaid Forest manga as well as scripts for the Lupin III television anime franchise, the Ninja Hattori-kun television series, and the Ganbare!! Tabuchi-kun!! anime film. 
A service will be held on February 19 in Tokyo. Ōkubo is survived by his wife Masako.

News: Animator, Professor Masahiro Katayama Passes Away posted on 2011-02-13 13:09 EST

Tama Art University instructor taught future Oscar winner Kunio Katō

Animator and art professor Masahiro Katayama passed away in a Tokyo hospital on Saturday at 8:43 p.m. due to pneumonia. He was 56. Katayama worked as an illustrator, manga creator, and animator, and he headed Group Ebisen, an animators' collective whose ranks have included Hiroshi Hara, Sunao Katabuchi (Black Lagoon), and Hiroyuki Kakudou (Digimon). He served as the administrative head of both the Japan Animation Association and Anido. He also judged or co-organized the Hida International Animation Festival of Folktales and Fables, Hiroshima International Animation Festival, the Japanese government's Media Arts Festival, and the Tokyo International Anime Fair.
However, Katayama's most enduring legacy is arguably the years he taught at Tama Art University. He joined the university's Department of Graphic Design in 1998, and helped pioneered the study of animation in universities throughout Japan. He personally taught a student by the name of Kunio Katō. Katō later created "La Maison en Petits Cubes" ("Tsumiki no Ie") — the second of only two anime to win a major Academy Award.

News: Kazuaki Kiriya Denies IMDB's 'Dragon Ball Reboot' Entry posted on 2011-02-14 05:07 EST

Screenwriter and director Kazuaki Kiriya (Casshern) wrote on his Twitter account on Monday that the Internet Movie Database's (IMDB's) "Untitled Dragon Ball Reboot" entry, which lists Kiriya as a writer, is "completely fake." He said that he is currently asking IMDB to correct the "nonsensical info," and he added that the misinformation is adversely affecting the actual projects he has in the works. IMDB allows users to post incorrect entries that can remain on the website until a deletion request is submitted and verified.

News: Touhou Project Creator Restricts Commercial Works, Anime (Updated) posted on 2011-02-14 06:33 EST

2011 guidelines issued for goods based on self-published game series
"Team Shanghai Alice," the creator of the Touhou Project dōjin (self-published) game series, posted revised 2011 guidelines for the use of copyrighted Touhou Project materials on Monday. The creator (who is also known as ZUN) asked those who wish to make commercial goods based on Touhou Project to request permission.
He asked that the applicants exercise "discretion" in regards to commercial goods with sexual connotations (such as dakimakura or hugging pillows with sexual connotations). He later clarified that the guideline on sexual content applied only to commercial goods, and said that he does not think that the existing noncommercial dōjin contents have been problematic so far.
He then specifically restricted the development of commercial anime projects. He added that the new restriction applies to "cel animation"; the restriction did not apply to works created with 3D software or to illustrations and special effects.
The creator also placed restrictions on the sale of works — both dōjin and commercial — on the XBox Live Indie Games marketplace for the XBox 360 console, Apple's App Store for the iPhone and other iOS devices, and Android Market for phones and other devices. Another restriction applies to sales through overseas downloads and other channels that go beyond traditional means of releasing dōjin works. Finally he restricted "overly sexual depictions and defamation against certain individuals, groups, or races that are determined to go against common decency."
The anime studio ufotable announced last September that it was producing an anime project with the ANIMATE store chain's mascot character and the Touhou Project game characters. At the time, the Touhou Project creator said that he was not involved and that he did not know the details about it. Dōjin circles had previously sold anime with Touhou Project characters at the Comic Market (Comiket) convention.
Update: The creator said on Tuesday that although he has been asked this many times before, there is no official anime production so far. He added that he has no plans for one either.

News: Production I.G's Momo e no Tegami Film to Open in 2012 posted on 2011-02-15 05:06 EST
Jin-Roh director's 7-year project about girl starting new life in countryside after father's passing
The anime studio Production I.G confirmed on Tuesday that it is producing a film called Momo e no Tegami (A Letter to Momo) for a theatrical release in Japan in 2012. Jin-Roh director Hiroyuki Okiura spent seven years planning, writing, storyboarding, and directing the film; it is his first return to the proverbial director's chair since Jin-Roh in 2000. Production I.G describes the film's story as follows:

"Dear Momo" — that was all that was written on a letter left behind by Momo's late father. Momo and her mother have just moved from Tokyo to the countryside of Japan's Inland Sea. On an island lies a wondrous town surrounded on all sides by quaint homes and nature's landscape. Even as Momo starts a new life, she wonders, "Father, what did you really want to write in your letter…?" One day, she discovers an ancient book in the attic, and from that day forward, strange happenings occur all around Momo.
Masashi Ando (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away) is overseeing the animation process. Among the animators on the team are Toshiyuki Inoue (Akira), Ei Inoue (The Cat Returns), Takeshi Honda (Evangelion: 2.0 You Can [Not] Advance), Tetsuya Nishio (Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence), and Hiroyuki Aoyama (Summer Wars). Hiroshi Ohno (Kiki's Delivery Service) is serving as art director.

News: U.S. Bookstore Chain Borders Files for Bankruptcy (Update 2) posted on 2011-02-16 11:18 EST
Chapter 11 filing allows retailer to stay in business, but will close 30% of its stores
The American bookstore chain Borders announced on Wednesday that it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, as previously predicted by the Wall Street Journal newspaper. The Chapter 11 filing allows Borders to remain in business while reorganizing to pay off its debts.
As part of the program, Borders will close about 30%, or about 200, of its stores, and the company has also negotiated US$505 million in financing from GE Capital. Stores which remain open will continue to function normally, including "honoring its Borders Rewards program, gift cards, and other customer programs." Borders will also meet its payroll needs and continue providing benefits to its employees. The retail website will remain open for business.
The company has launched a website for the reorganization, which offers its filing documents, press releases, and information for vendors and shareholders.
The bankruptcy comes after a string of difficulties for Borders, including the departure of two of its executives and delay of payments to publishers, followed by additional layoffs and an attempt to convince publishers to treat its debts as loans, which failed. As noted by the retail news source ICv2, Borders played a crucial role in the rise of manga sales in the United States in the first half of the last decade.
Update: Borders lists the stores that are closing. These documents are available via the Southern District of New York's document filing system for a small fee. [Via mizzelle, AICN Anime]
Update 2: In additional court documents available via the document filing system, Borders states that it owes Yen Press parent Hachette Book Group USA US$36.9 million, Viz Media distributor Simon & Schuster US$33.8 million, Kodansha Comics distributor Random House US$33.5 million, and Diamond Comic Distributors US$3.9 million. [Via Huffington Post]

News: All But 1 Defendant Dropped From Funimation's One Piece Lawsuit (Updated) posted on 2011-02-16 22:17 EST

1,336 anonymous defendants removed from suit, but can be pursued individually
On February 10, Senior United States District Judge Royal Furgeson ordered the anime distributor Funimation to "sever" or remove all defendants except one from its copyright infringement lawsuit over an episode of the television anime One Piece. In its January 24 suit, Funimation alleged that the 1,337 unidentified defendants "collectively participated, via the Internet, in the unlawful reproduction and distribution" of One Piece episode 481 ("Ace Rescued! Whitebeard's Final Order!") via the BitTorrent file-sharing protocol. Funimation licensed the anime in 2007.
According to the judge's order, the actions of each defendant did not constitute "acting in concert" but rather acting individually, although identically. The IP (Internet Protocol) address of the sole defendant who remains in the lawsuit is associated with the Internet service provider (ISP) Verizon. An online service that provides location information about IP addresses lists a physical location in Kearny, New Jersey, but such services are not necessarily accurate.
Funimation can choose to pursue the other 1,336 defendants in individual, separate lawsuits within the next 30 days, if it submits filing fees for each case.
The judge also ordered Funimation to show cause as to why the court should not appoint lawyers to represent the anonymous defendants by February 28. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit organization that deals with legal issues regarding technology, reported that the judge made similar orders in four other cases; in one previous Texas case against anonymous defendants listed by IP addresses, these court-appointed lawyers had the case dismissed.
The court had granted Funimation's motion to discover the identities of the anonymous defendants on February 3, but the court then vacated, or set aside, that order on February 7. With this motion, Funimation had planned to subpoena the defendants' ISPs to learn their identities. After the court decides whether or not to appoint legal representation for the defense, it will reconsider this motion for the one defendant that remains in the lawsuit.
Funimation's DMCA Complaint to Google on One Piece Streams
In a separate development, the Chilling Effects website posted a copy of a January 20 copyright complaint sent by Funimation and the RemoveYourContent LLC anti-piracy service to the online services company Google. Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the complaint requested that Google remove links from its search results to 498 web addresses on a single domain. Each address hosts a streaming episode or film from the One Piece anime series.
Funimation confirmed the veracity of the January 20 letter with ANN, but declined to comment at this time. According to the Chilling Effects site, Funimation has sent Google 17 DMCA complaints since last April.
List of ISPs for Severed Defendants
The severed defendants have IP addresses associated with the following ISPs (in alphabetical order):

Alltel Corporation
Armstrong Cable Services
Atlantic Broadband
Bresnan Communications
Cable One
California Institute of Technology
CenturyTel Internet Holdings
Charter Communications
Clearwire Corporation
Comcast Cable and Comcast Business Communications
Cox Communications
Embarq Corporation
Fairpoint Communications
Freewire Broadband LLC
Frontier Communications of America
Gainesville Regional Utilities
Hawaiian Telcom Services Company
Insight Communications Company
MetroCast Cablevision
Midcontinent Communications
Morris Broadband, LLC
Northeastern University
Ohio State University
Optimum Online
Pennsylvania State University
Qwest Communications
RCN Corporation
Road Runner
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
SBC Internet Services
SoftLayer Technologies
Sprint PCS
Suddenlink Communications
TDS Telecom
University of Michigan
VPLS Inc. d/b/a Krypt Technologies
Wave Broadband
Wide Open West
Windstream Communications

Update: The technology website Ars Technica reported on Wednesday that Judge Ferguson severed all but one defendant in each of 15 other cases in the Northern District of Texas. The same attorney, Evan Stone, filed these cases and the Funimation case. According to Ars Technica, the filing fee for new lawsuits is US$350.

News: Yu-Gi-Oh! Movie Premiere to Benefit Make-A-Wish of Metro NYC (Updated) posted on 2011-02-17 22:11 EST
Event features voice actors, card game demonstrations, costume contest
The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Metro New York and 4Kids Entertainment have announced details for the February 23 New York City premiere event for the 3D animated film Yu-Gi-Oh! 3D: Bonds Beyond Time. Make-A-Wish of Metro NYC will bring five local "wish families" to the event, which will include demonstrations of Konami's Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card game, appearances by the anime's voice actors, a costume contest, and a raffle to benefit the non-profit organization.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Metro New York grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions. Past anime- and manga-related Make-A-Wish efforts include the 2005 auctioning of an autographed art piece by manga creation team CLAMP and a 2006 graphic novel created by a brain tumor patient and published by Tokyopop.
Yu-Gi-Oh! 3D: Bonds Beyond Time will screen at select theaters on February 26 and 27 and March 5 and 6.

News: Last Exile's New TV Anime to Premiere at Anime Expo posted on 2011-02-17 23:42 EST

World premiere of Gonzo's Last Exile ~Ginyoku no Fam~ series in July in Los Angeles
The official website of the Last Exile ~Ginyoku no Fam~ (Last Exile -Fam, The Silver Wing-) television anime series announced on Friday that Anime Expo will host the world premiere of the anime in Los Angeles during the extended July 1-4 holiday weekend.

News: Live-Action Akira Plans Get Harry Potter Scriptwriter posted on 2011-02-18 08:05 EST

Steve Kloves also wrote Wonder Boys, wrote/directed The Fabulous Baker Boys
The producers of the planned live-action film adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira science-fiction manga have hired Steve Kloves to polish the latest draft of the scripts. Kloves wrote the screenplays for all of the films based of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels except the fifth one. He also wrote the Wonder Boys film, and he wrote and directed The Fabulous Baker Boys film. Albert Hughes (Menace II Society, From Hell, The Book of Eli) is attached to direct the project for Warner Brothers. The project's cast and release date have not been established yet.
Screenwriter Gary Whitta was previously attached to the project, which actor Leonardo DiCaprio (Titanic, Inception) is producing through his Appian Way production company. According to, Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby also worked on the films' scripts before another writer, Albert Torres was hired to script the most recent draft last year.
Mad Chance's Andrew Lazar, DiCaprio, Appian Way's Jennifer Davisson Killoran, Hughes, and his brother Allen Hughes will produce the project. Otomo directed his own animated film adaptation that premiered on July 16, 1988 — the same day that the story has the fictional Tokyo being destroyed. Otomo will serve as an executive producer of the live-action version through a deal signed by his publisher, Kodansha.

News: Viz Acquires U.S. Rights to CG Series My Giant Friend posted on 2011-02-18 21:19 EST

Plans to find broadcast partner for Korean/French collaboration

Viz Media has confirmed with ANN that it acquired the American rights to My Giant Friend, a CG-animated science-fiction television series about a boy named Linus, a giant alien named Boom, and their other friends. The company has informed ANN that for now it plans to sell the series to a broadcast partner.
My Giant Friend is a co-production between France's Timoon Animation and South Korea's SAMG Animation. The series currently airs on France's Canal J network (as Linus et Boom). It also runs in Korea, Italy, Norway, Czech Republic, Turkey, and Spain.

News: California's AM2 Hosts World Cosplay Summit Regionals posted on 2011-02-19 11:22 EST

Winner earns trip to Japan to compete in final contest
AM2, a new convention in Southern California, announced on Wednesday that it will host the United States regional round of the World Cosplay Summit competition for 2011. The winners of the competition will continue on to Nagoya, Japan to compete for the final prizes. The convention (formerly known as Club 2 the Max) will be held in the Anaheim Convention Center during the July 1-3 weekend, roughly the same time as Anime Expo in Los Angeles.
Anime Expo selected the United States contestants for the World Cosplay Summit in 2004 and 2005. The New York Anime Festival then hosted the regional round in 2007, 2008, and 2009. In 2010, San Jose, California's FanimeCon held the contest.

News: Ika Musume/Squid Girl Gets 2nd TV Anime Season (Updated) posted on 2011-02-20 23:06 EST

Adaptation of Masahiro Anbe's Shinryaku! Ika Musume comedy manga

This year's 13th issue of Akita Shoten's Weekly Shonen Champion magazine is announcing on Thursday that production on a second season of the Squid Girl (Shinryaku! Ika Musume) television anime series has been green-lit. The premiere date has not yet been announced.
The anime adapts Masahiro Anbe's Shinryaku! Ika Musume (The Invader Came From the Bottom of the Sea!) comedy manga about a squid girl who vows to invade the beaches of mankind since humans have polluted the seas. However, her invasion is less than successful, and she ends up on dry land. The first season premiered in October, and the media-distribution website Crunchyroll streamed the anime outside Japan as it aired.
Update 2: Voice actress Rie Tanaka (Chizuru Aizawa) expressed surprise when a Twitter user congratulated her about the second season on Monday: "Huh? Where did you get that info?"

News: Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal TV Anime Scheduled for April 11 posted on 2011-02-21 19:32 EST

The Japanese broadcaster TV Tokyo has relaunched its website for the new Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal anime series on Sunday and confirmed the anime's premiere date. The anime will premiere on Monday, April 11 at 7:30 p.m. on TV Tokyo and its network affiliates nationwide. The near-future story revolves around Yūma Tukumo, a 13-year-old rookie duelist, and Astral, the mysterious lifeform from a parallel world who suddenly appears before Yūma.
The new series will be the fourth one in the franchise to air on TV Tokyo after Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters, Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monster GX, and the current Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's.

News: U.S. Syfy TV Channel Moves Anime to Thursdays in March posted on 2011-02-23 17:38 EST
Gurren Lagann, Chrono Crusade switch nights starting March 24
The American television channel Syfy lists the anime series Chrono Crusade and Gurren Lagann for Thursday, March 24. The channel currently shows both series on Tuesdays and will continue to do so through March 15, but starting the week after, the anime block will air on Thursday nights. Additionally, as of March 31, the schedule lists the block as starting at 11:30 p.m. rather than 11:00 p.m.

News: Anime Expo to Host Otaku Blogger/TV Host Danny Choo posted on 2011-02-24 17:25 EST

Anime Expo to also host voice actor Vic Mignogna at Guest of Honor

Anime Expo announced that Japan-based pop culture blogger and television show host Danny Choo will appear as a Guest of Honor at the July 1-4 event in Los Angeles. Choo was also a guest at last year's convention.
Choo first became well-known for cosplaying in Tokyo as an Imperial Stormtrooper from the Star Wars films. He has since launched Culture Japan, a television series which airs in Japan and runs on Animax Asia. Choo was profiled on CNN in 2008.
AX previously announced that the American voice actor Vic Mignogna (Fullmetal Alchemist's Ed Elric, Ouran High School Host Club's Tamaki Suou) as a 2011 Guest of Honor. Anime Expo 2011 will take place from July 1 through 4 at the Los Angeles Convention Center in California.

News: U.S. Syfy Channel Lists Star Blazers TV Show in April (Update 2) posted on 2011-02-25 13:31 EST

North American dubbed adaptation of 1974-75's Space Battleship Yamato anime
The American television channel Syfy's online schedule lists two episodes of Star Blazers: The Quest for Iscandar on Monday, April 21 at 12:00 a.m. and 12:30 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. Star Blazers: The Quest for Iscandar (1979-1980) is the dubbed and partly rewritten adaptation of Yoshinobu Nishizaki and Leiji Matsumoto's 1974-1975 television anime Space Battleship Yamato.  The titular spaceship Yamato (Argo in Star Blazers) is built from the remains of the World War II battleship of the same name to protect Earth from extraterrestrial threats. The first television anime spawned two television sequels, two video projects, and six films including 2009's Space Battleship Yamato Resurrection. A live-action film remake of the original Space Battleship Yamato anime opened in Japan last December. Skydance Productions, the company that financed half of the recent American film True Grit, is negotiating to acquire the live-action film rights to Star Blazers. Skydance head David Ellison (son of Oracle co-founder and CEO Larry Ellison) and Josh Klein would produce if the deal is completed, and Christopher McQuarrie (The Usual Suspects, Valkyrie, The Wolverine) would write the screenplay.
Syfy had previously updated its schedule to reflect its Tuesday-night anime block's move to Thursday nights next month.

News: Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair Premieres March 27 (Updated) posted on 2011-02-25 19:22 EST

Quentin Tarantino said I.G produced new 7-minute anime sequence for extended cut
The New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles will be screening the American premiere of Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair — the full, 247-minute combined cut of Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill revenge story — from March 27 to March 31. Tarantino had said in 2009 that while he would not be modifying the existing footage for the longer cut, he is adding "a whole new section" to Kill Bill Chapter 3: The Origin of O-Ren, the chapter which the anime studio Production I.G had already animated for the film's original theatrical release in 2003.
For the extended edition, Production I.G produced a new seven-minute sequence. Tarantino described the sequence in 2009: "I actually wrote a much longer script for the anime section during O-Ren's revenge chapter. Remember the guy with the long hair that kills her father? It's like, what happened to that dude? Well, I wrote it and it was the biggest, most elaborate thing I wrote — her taking him down."
Update: The New Beverly Cinema lists the film as: "The unrated combined version which has never been seen theatrically in the U.S. The same print that screened at Cannes!" However, the Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles advertised that they showed the Cannes Film Festival version before. According to Ain't It Cool News, "Tarantino provided the copy stating that it is 'the unrated combined version which has never been seen in the United States.'"

News: JAST USA Adds School Days HQ Visual Novel Software posted on 2011-03-01 09:03 EST

Upgrade of 0verflow's adult visual novel that inspired anime
The game localization company JAST USA announced on Tuesday that its new JAST Densetsu brand is collaborating with the Japanese game maker 0verflow and the localization group Sekai Project to release the adult visual novel software School Days HQ in English this year. School Days HQ is the software and graphics upgrade — with new scenes — to 0verflow's original visual novel that inspired the anime of the same name. According to JAST USA, the English release will be uncensored and will have over 20 endings, including the harem endings and the sometimes violent bad endings.
In the story, a love triangle develops when a boy enlists his close female friend to help him attract the attention of a girl in their same school. The 2007 School Days television anime series adaptation gained unexpected media attention when its final episode was preempted by a real-life axe murder in Japan. Instead of the final episode, the television stations aired a series of unrelated scenery images and the following text: "The programming has changed due to certain circumstances." The substituted boat scenery images led to the "nice boat" catchphrase that has spread throughout the overseas anime fandom and even into Japan.

News: New York's Carnegie Hall to Show 2 Miyazaki Shorts posted on 2011-03-02 20:33 EST

Yado-Sagashi, Mizugumo Monmon previously only seen in Japan
New York City's Carnegie Hall performance center announced on Tuesday that it will screen two 2006 anime shorts directed by Studio Ghibli's Hayao Miyazaki on March 26. Both shorts will have only been seen in Japan prior to these screenings.
The two titles are Yado-Sagashi (House Hunting) and Mizugumo Monmon (Mon Mon the Water Spider). Yado-Sagashi follows a young girl named Fuki as she embarks on a journey to find a new home. Mizugomo Monmon is about a diving bell spider (a species which lives entirely underwater) which falls in love with a water strider. Studio Ghibli animated both shorts for the Ghibli Musuem in Mitaka, Japan.
The shorts will screen on March 26 at 6:30 p.m. and again at 8:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online for US$15 each.
Last December, producer and former Studio Ghibli president Toshio Suzuki revealed that Yado-Sagashi would be screened at a New York City event, but did not specify which one it would be.

News: Kodansha International to Shut Down by April posted on 2011-03-03 22:14 EST
Separate company from Kodansha USA, Vertical; publisher of Manga! Manga!, Hagakure
The Japan Times newspaper reported on Friday that Kodansha International, a subsidiary of the Japanese publishing giant Kodansha, will shut down by the end of April. Kodansha International is a separate company from Kodansha USA, another New York-based subsidiary that Kodansha established in 2008. It is also separate from Vertical, the publishing startup in which Kodansha is acquiring a 46.7% stake. (Dai Nippon Printing is acquiring a 46.0% stake in Vertical.)
Kodansha International was founded in 1963. It has specialized in English-language books about Japanese topics and English-language translations of Japanese books. It has published a few manga-related books, such as the first edition of Frederik L. Schodt's seminal tome Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics. More recently, it published Sean Michael Wilson's English-language manga adaptation of Yamamoto Tsunetomo's Hagakure: The Code of the Samurai book and Wilson's version of Yakuza Moon (Yakuza na Tsuki), a memoir by a yakuza gangster's daughter named Shoko Tendo.
In the same February press conference that Kodansha announced its 46.7% acquisition of Vertical, Chief Operating Officer Yoshinobu Noma stated that the company will strengthen its digital and overseas ventures during the ongoing publishing slump. Noma will replace his mother, Sawako Noma, as the company's president in the middle of April. This will be the company's first presidential transition in 24 years.

News: Appleseed XIII Released on Film/Net/BD Simultaneously posted on 2011-03-04 09:13 EST

Maaya Sakamoto, Kouichi Yamadera to star in Appleseed XIII ~Yuigon~ on June 13
The official website for the Appleseed XIII anime announced on Friday that the project will debut simultaneously in Japanese theaters, on the Internet, and on Blu-ray Disc this June. The "theatrical remix version" of the first half of the story, Appleseed XIII ~Yuigon~, will open in theaters in Tokyo and Osaka on June 13, followed by a theatrical run in Nagoya starting June 27. During the theatrical release of the film, a limited edition of the first Blu-ray volume will be sold exclusively at theaters showing the film. The regular first volume of the anime will then ship with three episodes on Blu-ray and DVD on July 6. (The Blu-ray version will bundle a 48-page deluxe book.) All 13 episodes will also be streamed online. The second film, Appleseed XIII ~Yogen~ will open in Tokyo on October 24 and then in Nagoya on November 7. Maaya Sakamoto will play the young female ES.W.A.T. police officer Deunan, and Kouichi Yamadera will play the veteran cyborg-soldier Briareos.
Appleseed XIII is a new retelling of Masamune Shirow's Appleseed future paramilitary manga, separate from Kazuyoshi Katayama's previous original video anime and Shinji Aramaki's two computer-animated movies. This latest adaptation will be composed of 13 22-minute direct-to-video anime episodes, plus two feature-length compilation films of the episodes.
Takayuki Hamana (The Beast Player Erin, Chocolate Underground, Library War, Moshidora, The Prince of Tennis) is directing the animators at Jinni's Animation Studios (Fireball), in cooperation with Production I.G. Jun'ichi Fujisaku (The Beast Player Erin, Blood+, Moshidora, Real Drive) is supervising and co-writing the scripts, and Takayuki Goto (The Beast Player Erin, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd GIG, Hunter X Hunter, Video Girl Ai) is designing the characters based on Shirow's original work. Atsushi Takeuchi (Ghost in the Shell, Yukikaze, The Sky Crawlers, Reideen) is returning from Aramaki's first Appleseed film to draw the mechanical designs.

News: Tokyopop CEO Cites Borders' Bankruptcy for Layoffs posted on 2011-03-06 10:48 EST

Stu Levy, CEO of the North American manga publisher Tokyopop, told the ICv2 retail news source that the bankruptcy of the bookstore chain Borders led to last week's layoffs of its editors.
Levy said, "Borders—our biggest customer—went bankrupt, owed us a lot money, which they didn't pay us, and as a result we are in a very challenging situation, and have had to react quickly to the situation. We did need to let a few people go—and it's horrible for everyone involved to ever have to let people go. We will continue to do everything we can to evolve the manga business and we very much appreciate the support of our fans, our partners, our creators, and out retail customers."

News: U.S. Man Sues Over Toei's Knights of the Zodiac/St. Seiya posted on 2011-03-08 08:49 EST

Isaac A. Potter, Jr. alleges that anime infringed on his work's copyrights, trademarks
The Japanese studio Toei Animation announced on Tuesday that a man filed a lawsuit against Toei's American subsidiary, Toei Animation Incorporated (TAI), over rights related to the Knights of the Zodiac (Saint Seiya in Japanese) anime series. The plaintiff, Isaac A. Potter, Jr., served as his own lawyer when he filed the suit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on December 9, 2010. Potter alleges that TAI's Knights of the Zodiac infringed on his copyrights and trademarks. In addition to TAI, Potter named the United States of America as a defendant. Potter is seeking an injunction against TAI, US$1 billion in punitive damages, and additional statutory damages.
Toei adapted Masami Kurumada's 1986-1990 mythological fantasy manga Saint Seiya into a 1986-1989 television anime series of the same name. ADV Films and DiC Entertainment released the anime in North America in two versions: a version with English subtitles under the original name, and a version with English dubbing under the name Knights of the Zodiac. As such, Toei filed for registration on a U.S. trademark on "Knights of the Zodiac" for animation, trading cards, clothing, and toys on May 20, 2002, and received the registration on May 20, 2008. The dubbed Knights of the Zodiac version premiered on the American Cartoon Network on August 30, 2003.
The plaintiff and his brother Samuel J. Potter, under the name Potter Boys' Creations, obtained copyright protection for a drawing entitled "Zodiac Knights 2000" on October 10, 1995. They then filed a U.S. trademark for "Zodiac Knights 2000 ZK" for clothing, games, advertising, and other services on February 24, 1997, although the status of this trademark has been "abandoned" and "dead" since April 9, 1998. They also filed the trademark "Zodiac Knights 2000" separately in Indiana on March 1, 2004, and the status of that registration is "live."
In May of 2003, the Potters published a book called Zodiac Knights 2000 Featuring Creatures of the Knights: Creatures of the Knights (A New Era). Potter used the services of 1st Book Publishing, a company that offers to print books for authors seeking to self-publish their works.
The Potters had filed an earlier lawsuit in Georgia's Fulton County (later moved to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division) against the Cartoon Network on July 18, 2006. The Cartoon Network filed two motions to dismiss the suit in 2006, and both motions were denied. The court had concluded that the Potters had not abandoned their trademark due to their separate registration filing in Indiana.
Toei consulted with its legal representation and asserts that it finds no legal grounds for the plaintiff's current lawsuit. Toei said that it will fight the suit and could try to dismiss it. The studio added that it does not believe the suit will affect its business.

News: Magic Tree House Books' 2012 Film Confirmed as Anime posted on 2011-03-08 09:56 EST
Azumanga Daioh director, writer adapt Mary Pope Osborne's fantasy adventure for children
The Japanese film distributor Gaga confirmed during the Tuesday press conference for its 2011-2012 movie lineup that the Magic Tree House fantasy adventure film is being produced by Japanese animators. Since 1992, American author Mary Pope Osborne has been writing the original children's books about Jack and Annie, two siblings who go on adventures throughout time with a mysterious tree house. The film will open nationwide in Japan on January 7, 2012.
As previously reported, the anime film will be based on Ayana Amako's illustrations for the Japanese edition of the book series, as opposed to Salvatore Murdocca's illustrations for the orginal American edition. Hiroshi Nishikiori (Azumanga Daioh, Toaru Majutsu no Index, Kaiketsu Zorori) is directing off a screenplay written by Ichiro Okouchi (Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion, Azumanga Daioh, Negima!, Brave Story).
Yoshiaki Yanagida (Genshiken, You Are Umasou, Spirit of Wonder) is designing the characters and supervising the animation process, and Toshiharu Mizutani (Akira, The Piano Forest, Space Adventure Cobra) is serving as art director. Akira Senju (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Mobile Suit Victory Gundam, live-action Rampo) is composing the music.
92 million copies of the franchise's 45 books have been sold in 33 countries, including 3.3 million in Japan alone. 29 volumes have been published in Japan since 2002, although the first 14 Japanese volumes each contained material from two American volumes. The books are a major part of "morning reading time" in many Japanese elementary schools.

News: Kamui Designer/Unico Helmer Moribi Murano Passes Away posted on 2011-03-08 10:58 EST

Manga creator/illustrator also drew Hoero! Bun Bun, Kusabue no Kisetsu
Manga creator and illustrator Moribi Murano passed away due to heart failure in a Tokyo hospital on Monday, March 7 at 10:00 p.m. He was 69. He had been hospitalized since January due to illness.
Murano was born in Dalian, China on September 5, 1941 under the name Mamoru Satō. He made his professional debut with Dangan Ronkii in 1958, and his manga works include Kusabue no Kisetsu, Boxer, Kakine no Majo, Osamu to Tae, and Shokunin-zuku Hyakkei. Arguably his best known work is Hoero! Bun Bun (Howl! Bun Bun) about the adventures of a puppy; the story inspired a 1980-1981 television anime and a 1987 anime film.
Murano also became an animator under the tutelage of the late pioneer Osamu Tezuka. Murano directed the Unico: To The Magic Island film and designed the characters in the Dagger of Kamui film.
A service will be held in Tokyo on the morning of March 13. Murano is survived by his wife Taeko Satō.

News: Voice Actor Kan Tokumaru Passes Away at 69 posted on 2011-03-10 01:38 EST

Gundam's Gaia, Gaiking's Fan Li, Tekkaman's Pegas, The IDOLM@STER's President Takagi
The entertainment talent agency Arts Vision announced on Thursday that voice actor Kan Tokumaru had passed away on March 6 after a long illness. He was 69.
Among his many anime roles were Fan Li in Daikuu Maryuu Gaiking, the Black Tri-Star member Gaia in the first Mobile Suit Gundam film trilogy, David Ryan in the Silent Service television special, the title character for two episodes of Space Pirate Captain Harlock, and Pegas in Uchuu no Kishi Tekkaman. He was also 765Production President Junichirō Takagi in The IDOLM@STER videogame.

News: Mobile Software Company Aplix Buys Anime Studio AIC posted on 2011-03-10 07:03 EST

Aplix to pay Oizumi 700 million yen to own studio behind Megazone 23, Miyu, Tenchi Muyo!, Aa! Megamisama!, Oreimo, Hourou Musuko
The mobile software company Aplix Corporation announced on Thursday that it will acquire the Japanese anime studio Anime International Company (AIC) as a wholly owned subsidiary for 700 million yen (about US$8.5 million). Aplix intends to offer anime videos and other contents in China and Southeast Asia on smartphones from Korea's Samsung Electronics, China's Huawei Technologies, and other makers.
Aplix is buying AIC from the pachisuro (pachinko-parlor slot machine) maker Oizumi, which had just acquired AIC last year. At the time, Oizumi spent 530 million yen (US$6.3 million) for 95% of AIC.
Toru Miura established the studio that would become AIC on July 15, 1982, and he is its current head. AIC has a number of sub-studios within itself: AIC Digital, AIC Spirits, AIC ASTA, AIC PLUS+, and AIC Takarazuka. It has 95 million yen (US$1.1 million) in capital.
AIC has worked on Strike Witches 2, Amagami SS, the anime adaptation of Tsukasa Fushimi's Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai (Oreimo) light novel series, and the ongoing Hourou Musuko anime recently. AIC produced about 200 anime titles in the past, including Megazone 23, Gall Force, Bubblegum Crisis, Vampire Princess Miyu, Tenchi Muyo!, Aa Megami-sama, Armitage III, El Hazard, Seto no Hanayome, Bamboo Blade, and Sora no Otoshimono.
Aplix was founded in 1986, and it had 13.263 billion yen (US$160 million) in capital as of 2009. Its chief executive officer is Ryu Koriyama.

News: Toei Replaces Possibly Infringing Dragon Ball Kai Music posted on 2011-03-10 07:23 EST

Anime studio discovers multiple tracks that may infringe on 3rd party's rights
The Japanese studio Toei Animation announced on Wednesday that it discovered multiple background music tracks from its Dragon Ball Kai anime series that it suspects may infringe on the rights of an unidentified third party or parties. As a result, the studio is taking measures to replace the affected tracks. Toei is discussing with others involved in the production about the investigation and future measures it may take.
The new television anime series Toriko is taking over Dragon Ball Kai's timeslot in Japan next month.
Dragon Ball Z Kai condenses the 1989-1996 Dragon Ball Z anime series to more closely follow Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball manga. The series features digital high-definition remastering, a re-recorded soundtrack, and select scenes updated with new effects or re-animated footage.
Funimation has been releasing Dragon Ball Kai on Blu-ray Disc and DVD in North America. The digital television channel Nicktoons and the over-the-air television programming block Toonzai have been running the series in the United States.

BioShock Movie; Gore Verbinski Out Posted February 15, 2011 - By Nikole Zivalich
BioShock the movie is no longer being directed by Gore Verbinski. During an interview with Verbinski went into detail on why he's no longer involved with the BioShock movie. "I couldn't really get past anybody that would spend the money that it would take to do it and keep an R rating," he explained. Keep reading for more.
One of the major issues Verbinski had with making the BioShock movie was deciding on how graphic and mature to make it. "Alternately, I wasn't really interested in pursuing a PG-13 version. Because the R rating is inherent. Little Sisters and injections and the whole thing. I just wanted to really, really make it a movie where, four days later, you're still shivering and going, "Jesus Christ!"... It's a movie that has to be really, really scary, but you also have to create a whole underwater world, so the pricetag is high. We just didn't have any takers on an R-rated movie with that price-tag." BioShock had a M for Mature rating so a movie rating of R makes sense.
Verbinski even thought a BioShock adaptation would be the perfect candiate for 3D. "[Bioshock] would be a great movie to do in 3D. I'd like to go into that world wearing a pair of glasses. I think in general, gaming is perfect for 3D. Anything where you're the protagonist. The kid in 'The Shining' on the big wheel, going around corridors. That's what 3D is perfect for. To make people feel on-edge." I'm not a huge fan of 3D myself but when he puts it that way I kind of agree.

Morning Hangover: Why The BioShock Movie Won't Be Made Posted February 16, 2011 - By Nikole Zivalich
Yesterday we found out why Gore Verbinski is no longer working on the BioShock movie adaptation. Basically, he couldn't get enough backing (money) for the movie he wanted to make. "We just didn't have any takers on an R-rated movie with that price-tag," he said.
Verbinski remains convinced the BioShock film will never get made unless the movie was made to meet a PG-13 rating. The Gore Verbinski version of BioShock could have a been a dark, graphic, and authentic video game based movie. The reason this movie won't be made is because the studios are afraid to put money behind something that won't appeal to the lowest common denominator. Is this the reason video game based movies are destined to fail, because movie execs don't have faith in making  video game movies authentic?

Don Bluth Hopes iPhone Game Will Lead To Animation Project Posted Last week - By Kevin Kelly
At GDC this week, we sat down with animation legend Don Bluth, the genius behind features The Land Before Time, An American Tail, and video games Space Ace and Dragon’s Lair, to get the story on his newest project, Tapper World Tour, an iPhone/iPad re-imagining of classic arcade title Tapper.
According to Bluth, part of the motivation for Dragon’s Lair back in the 1980s was monetary. He had run out of funding for animated film The Secret of NIMH, and hoped that Dragon’s Lair would provide some much needed capital. The game was, of course, incredibly successful, and The Secret of NIMH was completed to nearly universal critical acclaim. Bluth said he’d love to something similar happen with Tapper World Tour.
In spite of a career in film that began in the 1950s with Walt Disney animation studio, Bluth said Dragon’s Lair may end up as his more lasting work in the public’s imagination.
“We’ll be remembered for that stupid 20 minutes of animation in Dragon’s Lair,” Bluth said, “While our 12 animated features will go who-knows-where.”

Tomb Raider Movie Reboot Coming Posted 3 days ago - By Stephen Johnson

Back in December, we let you guys know that a reboot of the Tomb Raider game franchise is in the works. Today, we learned that the movie franchise is getting a reboot too. The next Tomb Raider is planned for a 2013 release; the rights for the franchise are owned by GK Films, and it will be produced by GK's Graham King and Tim Headington. According to GK Films, the goal is to "create daring new adventures for the young and dynamic Lara Croft."
No writer, director or stars have yet been announced yet, and we don't know any plot details, but according to The Hollywood Reporter's unnamed sources, Tomb Raider is planned as an origin story, and that means that iconic star Angelina Jolie may not be returning in the lead role of Lara Croft.
So who would you like to see play Lara? Personally, I think the series should go way into the origin, and star pre-teen future super-celebrity Suri Cruise, but then, I'm probably not in tuned to the marketing and creative genius of Hollywood film executives.

Doom To Be Rebooted In 3D? Posted 2 days ago - By Joseph Baxter

According to a new rumor, a reboot film of Id Software's seminal first person shooter Doom may soon be clawing at our faces -- In 3D. The original report from What's Playing didn't have much details, but allegedly, Universal Pictures is interested in resurrecting the film property. Apparently now in early stages of development, the film is said to completely abandon the events depicted in the notoriously-panned 2005 Doom movie, which starred Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Karl Urban. Of course, not that it matters all that much, since Doom was never exactly a property with a fertile and delicate storyline canon around which a writer needed to tip-toe. With the ultra-groundbreaking, never-before-attempted in history medium of 3D [/sarcasm], the question lingers as to whether we should expect a film that attempts to get a bit deeper than its much-maligned predecessor, or will it be another disposable experience?
In all honesty, I went into the last Doom film not expecting a masterpiece. I mean, it's fricking Doom! I wasn't really expecting Julius Caesar with grenade launchers. Yet, besides the weak storyline with oddly-veiled referenced to the game's creature characters, as well as the barely-tolerable acting, the film for the most part delivered the experience that I paid to see. -- Mindless action and demonic creatures getting blown to bits with big guns. It's not exactly a formula that required a giant lecture hall chalkboard with a team of math scholars to crack.
I'm certainly not expecting a masterpiece this time around either, but hopefully, the 3D aspect can be utilized in a way that at least makes the film memorable. This is definitely the biggest aspect in which the last film failed. In its initial blog-hype/rumor phase, that film also touted a scene which would depict a first-person shooter perspective as Karl Urban's character took things to the creature-infested fortress with guns in hands, blowing stuff up from a point of view that was very familiar to gamers. -- And when all was said and done, it lasted about a hot minute. -- Fail.

Last Minute Finds…..

News: Studio 4°C Co-Produces French Animated Film Mutafukaz posted on 2011-03-11 10:00 

Tekkon Kinkreet/Genius Party anime studio teams up with French publisher Ankama
The entertainment trade magazine Variety reported last Friday that Japanese animation studio Studio 4°C is collaborating with the French videogame and comics publisher Ankama to create a 2D-animated adaptation of Guillaume "Run" Renard comic series Mutafukaz.
Renard's original comic series is set in "Dark Meat City" — a "pre-apocalyptic American urban jungle" — and revolves around Angelina, a young man whose scooter accident results in the acquisition of supernatural powers. Ankama's official website for the comic states that it is inspired by science fiction of the 1950s, hip hop music, and wrestling.
Variety reports that the animated film will have a budget of US$11-14 million and is tentatively titled Mutafukaz. Studio 4°C has worked on a variety of international collaborations, including the upcoming remake of the American animated series Thundercats and several projects with Warner Bros. franchises: The Animatrix, Batman: Gotham Knight, and Halo Legends.

News: Anime/Manga/Game Industry Members Check In After Quake (Updated) posted on 2011-03-11 15:22 EST

Creators, singers, translators, others report via social networking sites
Due to cultural differences, less people donate blood in Japan than in many other countries. The Red Cross is one of several organizations throughout the world who accept blood donations and other contributions.
The following members of the anime, manga, game, and related industries have checked in via Twitter or other social networking sites to report being alive and well after the March 11 earthquake (Tōhoku Chihō Taiheiyō-oki Jishin):
Japanese Anime/Manga Industry:

Atsushi Abe
Yoshitoshi Abe
Tadashi Agi
Kurea Aida
Mayumi Aida
Akamatsu Studio via Ken Akamatsu
Satomi Akesaka
Touko Akiba
Reno Amagi
Ume Aoki
Yuu Asakawa
Kia Asamiya
Kiyohiko Azuma
Koge Donbo
Kanetake Ebikawa
Minari Endoh
Cocoa Fujiwara
Usamaru Furuya
Hitomi Harada
Bisco Hatori
Yukari Higa
Kouta Hirano
Satoru Hiura
Rei Hiroe
Aya Hirano
Yui Horie
Mamoru Hosoda
Yui Kano
Kazuhiko Inoue
Kikuko Inoue
Marina Inoue
Akira Ishida
Mai Kadowaki
Eri Kitamura
Kenji Kamiyama
Mel Kishida
Akiko Kobayashi
Katsuyuki Konishi
Mami Kosuge
Minako Kotobuki
Yun Kouga
Tite Kubo
Lily Hoshino
Madhouse Studios via Masao Maruyama
Temari Matsumoto
Nana Mizuki
Junko Mizuno
Halko Momoi
Megumi Nakajima
Yuuichi Nakamura
Yasuhiro Nightow
Ryotaro Okiayu
Hiroya Oku
Natsume Ono
Rina Satou
Humikane Shimada
Tomokazu Sugita
Ayahi Takagaki
Hiroyuki Takei
Mick Takeuchi
Yukari Tamura
Rie Tanaka
Arina Tanemura
Haruka Tomatsu
Aki Toyosaki
Kana Ueda
Chika Umino
Kouichi Yamadera
Suzuhito Yasuda
Hiroki Yasumoto
Nao Yazawa
Kumichi Yoshizuki
Kaori Yuki

Tokyo-based and Visiting North American Industry:
Matt Alt
William Flanagan
Dan Kanemitsu
Stu Levy
Patrick Macias
J-List via Peter Payne
Rob Pereyda
Matt Thorn


Danny Choo
Circus game studio via MangaGamer's John Pickett
Rie Fu
Aki Hata
Hobby Link Japan figure seller
Hideo Kojima
Nami Tamaki
Hikaru Utada

Widespread destruction from Japan earthquake, tsunamis    By the CNN Wire StaffMarch 11, 2011 7:45 p.m. EST

Tokyo (CNN) -- The morning after Japan was struck by the most powerful earthquake to hit the island nation in recorded history and the tsunami it unleashed -- and even as the earth continued to twitch with aftershocks -- the disaster's massive impact was only beginning to be revealed. The 8.9-magnitude temblor, which was centered near the east coast of Japan, killed hundreds of people, caused the formation of 30-foot walls of water that swept across rice fields, engulfed entire towns, dragged houses onto highways, and tossed cars and boats like toys. Some waves reached six miles (10 kilometers) inland in Miyagi Prefecture on Japan's east coast. Buildings collapsed by the score, and numerous fires were ignited. Hundreds more people were missing, Japanese media reported, citing local and national police. Tens of thousands of people were displaced, according to Japan's Kyodo News Agency. Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the "enormously powerful" earthquake had caused "tremendous damage over a wide area." The quake, which struck at 2:46 p.m. (12:46 a.m. ET), prompted the U.S. National Weather Service to issue tsunami warnings for at least 50 countries and territories. The epicenter of Friday's main quake was located off Miyagi Prefecture, about 230 miles (370 kilometers) northeast of Tokyo, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
Also in Miyagi, officials reported that a train had derailed and authorities had lost contact with four trains in coastal areas, Kyodo reported, citing the East Japan Railway Company.
Japanese broadcasters showed video of collapsed buildings and reported widespread power outages and transportation disruptions. In Tokyo, rail service was suspended overnight, elevated highways were shut early Saturday and surface streets remained jammed as commuters -- thousands of whom had spent the night in shelters -- tried to get to their homes in outlying areas. Video aired by Japanese broadcaster NHK showed extensive fires in Miyagi and in the port city of Hakodate, in the southern part of Hokkaido island in northern Japan. An oil refinery was burning in Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo, according to NHK. And Kyodo News said fires could be seen in extensive areas of Kesennuma in Miyagi.
Aerial views of Kesennuma showed plumes of white smoke emanating from the center of the city and large, black areas the flames had already traversed. In the city of Minamisoma in Fukushima Prefecture, all that was left of many structures were their foundations. Only concrete and steel buildings appeared to have withstood the wash. No people were visible in the streets of the town, whose population on Friday had been 70,000. And a dam in Fukushima Prefecture failed, washing away homes, Kyodo reported. There was no immediate word of casualties, but the Defense Ministry said 1,800 homes were destroyed.
The National Weather Service sent a warning to 50 countries and territories it said could be affected by the tsunami.
Scores of aftershocks jarred the country Saturday, punctuated by a pair of strong earthquakes in the early morning, including one with a magnitude of 7.1 and another with a magnitude of 6.6.
Radioactive material may have leaked from an atomic power plant in northeast Japan, a major electric company said Saturday, according to a news agency report. Citing the Tokyo Electric Power Co., Japan's Kyodo News Agency said that radioactive substances may have seeped out of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors, about 160 miles (260 kilometers) north of Tokyo.
And cooling problems appeared to have spread to another of the Tokyo Electric Power Company's nuclear plants.
Moment of the Japan quake Kyodo reported the power company alerted authorities that the cooling system at three units of the Fukushima Daini plant -- which is distinct from the Fukushima Daiichi reactors -- also failed. That prompted Japanese authorities to add that plant to its emergency list, along with the Fukushima Daiichi plant, Kyodo said.
The agency also reported Saturday that the same agency ordered the power company to release a valve in the Fukushima Daiichi plant's "No. 1" building, to relieve growing pressure. Citing Japan's nuclear safety agency, Kyodo said radiation levels were 1,000 times above normal in the the control room of the facility's "No. 1."
Prime Minister Kan told reporters he would board a helicopter to inspect the plant and the rest of the affected region from a helicopter. The government had ordered the evacuation of residents nearest the plant as efforts to keep it cool after it was shut were initially hampered. The confirmed death toll stood at 202 in nine prefectures, not counting the 200 to 300 bodies -- apparently drowned -- found in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Kyodo said, citing police. It reported that 673 people were unaccounted for. But NHK, also citing police, said at least 427 people were confirmed dead and more than 740 were missing across several prefectures. Kyodo predicted the death toll would surpass 1,000. The news agency, citing Japan's defense forces, also said 60,000 to 70,000 people were being evacuated to shelters in the Sendai area of Miyagi Prefecture.
The prime minister said an emergency task force had been activated, and he appealed for calm. The government dispatched 8,000 troops to assist in the recovery effort and asked for U.S. military assistance, according to Kyodo.
A spokesman for the U.S. military bases in Japan said all service members were accounted for and there were no reports of damage to installations or ships. U.S. President Barack Obama offered his condolences and said the United States was standing by to help "in this time of great trial." The U.S. Navy initiated reconnaissance flights to map the disaster zone and was moving the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan into position to assist the Japanese government with relief efforts, defense officials said. Two search-and-rescue teams, totaling more than 140 people, were en route, the U.S. Agency for International Development said. Images from Japanese media and CNN iReporters showed smoke pouring from buildings and water rushing across fields, carrying away entire structures. The quake toppled cars off bridges and into waters underneath. Waves of debris flowed like lava across farmland, pushing boats, houses and trailers. About 4 million homes had no power in Tokyo and surrounding areas.
The quake also disrupted rail service and affected air travel. Hundreds of flights were canceled, Kyodo said. Some 13,000 people were stranded at the Narita airport, and 10,000 were stuck at the Haneda airport, the news agency said. Flights into and out of both airports had resumed Saturday. At Tokyo Station, one of Japan's busiest subway terminals, shaken commuters grabbed one another to stay steady as the ground shook. Dazed residents poured into the streets, and offices and schools were closed. Children cried.The impact was felt far and wide. In McKinleyville, California, a wave swept three men into the Pacific Ocean as they were reportedly trying to take photos of the incoming tsunami waves, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Two of the men returned to shore, but one died, officials said.
Japanese government officials said large tsunami waves were still a risk to coastal Japan, and they urged residents in coastal areas to move to higher ground. The tsunami brought waves of nearly 7 feet to a harbor in Maui, authorities said, but other areas reported lower levels. On the U.S. mainland, wave heights from Alaska to California ranged from under a foot to over 8 feet. The highest measurement, 8.1 feet, was at Crescent City, California.
Humanitarian agencies were working with rescue crews to reach people affected by the earthquake and tsunami.
On Wednesday, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Honshu, the country's meteorological agency said. Early Thursday, an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.3 struck off the same coast.
Friday's quake is the strongest earthquake in recorded history to hit Japan, according to U.S. Geologic Survey records. The previous record was an 8.6-magnitude earthquake that struck near the Chubu Region near southwestern Honshu on October 28, 1707, that may have killed 5,000 people, CNN meteorologist Sean Morris said.
That quake generated a 33-foot (10-meter) tsunami wave, and some scientists believe the quake may have triggered the eruption of Mount Fuji 49 days later, Morris said.
The world's largest recorded quake took place in Chile on May 22, 1960, with a magnitude of 9.5, the USGS said.

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