As we wave goodbye to 2017 (a fine year for retro anime and manga releases) my thoughts are inevitably turning to what wonderful things are going to be unearthed for release in 2018.
So here’s a glimpse of some things I’m quite excited about that are coming very soon to annihilate my wallet/free time with a bit of commentary on why I’m looking forward to each one.
THE WELCOME (AND LONG OVERDUE) RETURN OF DEVILMAN
You wait so long for any Devilman property be released officially and then four come along all at once….
Yep that’s what’s happened with Go Nagai’s demonic superhero classic in a move that has stunned western fans who were starting to believe that we may not get anything in English ever again.
Earlier in 2017 it was announced that Masaki Yuasa (Ping Pong: The Animation, Mind Game) was spearheading a new anime adaptation of Nagai’s original manga and that the new project would be called Devilman Crybaby. Judging from the trailer it features some of the same story elements as the classic manga but looks to be a “re-imagined” version of the original tale with Yuasa’s distinctive visual style. Personally I always wanted to see an adaptation with the original manga’s story and Nagai’s art style similar to the 80’s and 90’s OVAs but I’m still looking forward to seeing what Yuasa’s version brings to the table. Check out Devilman Crybaby this weekend on Netflix (debuts January 5th).
Not long after the announcement of Devilman Crybaby there was news about three (count em!) Devilman manga being released in English for the first time. In a move that actually made me shout out loud with excitement when I first read it Seven Seas have licenced the original Devilman, sequel series Devilman Vs Hades and modern remake Devilman Grimoire.
Just for a bit of context if you’re not familiar with the series this is a BIG deal for fans and completely unexpected. The last stuff to be released in the west were the OVAs in the mid 1990’s and one of the sequel mangas in the late 90’s. I’ve dreamed about having a nice physical edition of the original 1972 manga for decades.
The original Devilman manga created by the visionary, controversial Go Nagai is as dark as comics come. It blends demonic horror and black comedy with the superhero genre and more than a hint of nihilism. It also fits in a bit of an examination of the human condition with themes of prejudice and hatred and it culminates in the most shocking finale to a story I’ve ever read. If you’re a scholar of manga history you need to add it to your reading list. While I think Devilman Crybaby will be good, it doesn’t appear to be entirely the same story and this is definitely one manga you need to check out at least once. Devilman is coming in April, the first of two hardcover omnibus editions collecting the entire five volume run.
Sequel series Devilman Vs Hades is apparently an alternate universe side story picking up after the end of the original manga. If you haven’t read the original then I don’t recommend picking this up until afterwards as otherwise it’ll spoil the original’s ending. It also features an interesting crossover with one of Nagai’s other creations: the iconic Mazinger Z. I haven’t read this yet but as a big fan of the franchise I’ll be eager to check it out when it comes out on 13 March. Why they’ve decided to release this before the original is beyond me.
Devilman Grimoire is a modern retelling of the series with big changes to the origin and lore of the Devilman Universe. The first volume was released in October 2017 however the rest of the collection is due to come in 2018.
There is however a second canonical Devilman manga series (much of which was written by Nagai himself) that has yet to be announced (officially titled Shin Devilman but also referred to by fans as Devilman II) as well as Yu Kitani’s Amon: The darkside of Devilman. I’m not sure as to the quality of Amon but I’d certainly like to see the second Nagai series released. I read some of it when it was released in single issue format by Verotik and it’d be nice to have a definitive collected edition.
Expect a future in-depth multi part retrospective on the Devilman saga in all its forms!
ROBOT CARNIVAL COMES TO BLU RAY!
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Robot Carnival is probably the most well loved anime anthology of all time. It’s definitely the most anticipated retro anime Blu ray of the year. Discotek have been sharing images from the HD restoration on Twitter and I’ve heard enough from people who worked on this release to know that this will be a glorious disc to behold. If you haven’t yet seen Robot Carnival then check out the US Blu Ray disc when it appears later in 2018. It’s a visually stunning title featuring some incredible talents in anime such as Katushiro Otomo and Yasuomi Umetsu. No concrete release date has been given yet but if you like intelligent and artistic science fiction and humanoid robots then you really need to check this one out!
URUSEI YATSURA: BEAUTIFUL DREAMER ON BLU RAY!
Another classic anime hitting blu ray is the 2nd (and In my humble opinion best) movie in the Urusei Yatsura saga. If only we could get the rest of them on Blu ray along with the series and OVAs but that still seems quite a way off. The movie is a visual masterpiece that really showed off the directorial skills of Mamoru Oshii (Ghost In The Shell). Unfortunately it’s the only part of the entire franchise soon to be available in high definition to English speakers. I’m buying it in the hope that we get more of Lum, Ataru and company in the near future.
DRAGON BALL FIGHTERZ (PS4/XBOX ONE/PC)
From manga and anime re-releases to a videogame based on a classic manga/anime series. The latest Dragon Ball Videogame comes with the highest of pedigree: it’s from Arc System Works – the modern masters of 2D Vs fighting games and the creators of Guilty Gear and Blazblue. I’m a pretty big Dragon Ball fan myself (though I much prefer the original to Z) and for my money there really hasn’t been a truly great Dragon Ball fighting game in over a decade. I was never a big fan of the Tenkaichi games where you had full 3D movement and flight, they just seemed unnecessarily complicated and kind of awkward to control. When it comes to fighting games I much prefer a more old school straightforward title which is exactly what FighterZ looks like. The game has over 20 playable characters and even more characters show up to perform “assist” moves as part of your player character’s arsenal. The game is a 3 Vs 3 tag battle with gameplay and visuals reminiscent of Arc System Works recent games Guilty Gear Xrd and Blazblue ChronoPhantasma. The visuals and overall quality of this game really look outstanding with a level of polish rarely seen in a fighting game. The game has a brand new story as well as competitive online modes and a wealth of content. I’ll be sure to check it out once it lands in stores on January 26th.
SEVEN SEAS ENTIRE RETRO MANGA VENTURE!
In addition to the release of the original Devilman, Seven Seas are going to be putting out a significant number of older manga from the 1970’s including another Go Nagai work: Cutie Honey plus a re-imagining of Getter Robo (Getter Robo Devolution). Also Leji Matsumoto fans are in for a treat because multiple Captain Harlock series are coming as well as Queen Emeraldas and the hugely influential Space Battleship Yamato. I cannot stress enough how important it is that people interested in these authors and their franchises buy these works. It’s not often that something from the 1990’s that was already translated gets reprinted these days but something previously untranslated from the 1970’s coming out really is a rare if not freakish occurrence. Seven Seas are taking a big risk on these titles, so if you have any interest in the franchises mentioned or their authors PLEASE pick these titles up and do retro fans a favour. There’s way too much classic stuff still unreleased in the west that’s being criminally ignored these days. Each series you buy has the potential to bring more classics to our shores.
ANIMEIGO’S GUNSMITH CATS KICKSTARTER AND UNTITLED PROJECT
If you read my Riding Bean article then you’ll know I was fortunate enough to work with US Anime label Animeigo on their Riding Bean Blu Ray which was released in 2017. Just before Christmas they announced an upcoming crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter for a Blu Ray release of Gunsmith Cats, more details of which should be being shared this month. However the head of the company Robert Woodhead has also promised another project this year. No clues as to what it’ll be or even if it’s a Kickstarter campaign, it might just be a new or renewed licence. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.
THE “E-ONE” BOOK AND HOKUTO NO KEN DIGITAL MANGA!
Last year I got wind of an incredible Kickstarter campaign regarding one of my all time favourite series Hokuto No Ken (better known here in the west as Fist Of The North Star). The original manga by Tetsuo Hara and Buronson has never been released in its entirety in the west and at this stage over three decades later it’s probably unlikely to be. Which is why I jumped on the chance to crowdfund an innovative new dual language release being created in Japan.
A company calling themselves Progress Technologies have produced a revolutionary new electronic manga reading device called the “E-One book”. It’s similar to a tablet but following the design of a physical book much more closely. It even has actual paper pages around the outer edge with the manga itself being displayed on a high resolution screen within those pages. One of its coolest features is the ability to change the dialogue from Japanese to English at the touch of a button. The screen displays an incredibly high quality image and the device even has a dust jacket making it resemble a real Hokuto No Ken manga book. Of course with all the pages being stored digitally in internal memory it doesn’t take up the shelf space that all 27 physical Japanese Shonen Jump volumes would. Check out the embedded video for an idea of what the finished product will look like.
I’m excited at the prospect of just owning the series in its entirety in an official capacity and at an affordable price (actually cheaper than the physical books would be if they saw a western release). However the new format and the potential for this business model to be used to release other long lost series to English fans is an idea that has me almost salivating. Imagine the amount of companies who could release series that have never seen print outside of Japan to western fans without having to make licencing deals with American or European publishers and not having to worry about printing large numbers of books that could potentially go unsold. Also imagine how much manga our shelves could hold!
The Hokuto No Ken E-One book is scheduled for a February release but being a crowdfunded project there could always be delays. Since I’m using a proxy service to deliver mine (Pre-orders were only open to the US and Japan) I’m expecting mine in March at the earliest.
These are just a few of the wonders I’m looking forward to in 2018. What geeky anime treats (retro or otherwise) are you looking forward to this year? Please leave a comment if you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read. I love hearing from people.