Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Imagi's Financial Future?

Variety Asia has an article about the financial status of Imagi. Apparently, things aren't looking too rosy. While the animated Astro Boy movie is apparently on course for release in October, there is some concern over the company's future after that. Let's hope that these concerns are dealt with over the coming year, because I know that Imagi has a lot of creative gas in the tank, and it would be a total shame for the company to undergo any problems.

You can read the article on Variety Asia Online or read an archived version right here by clicking the link below.

Financial concerns continue to dog Imagi
Written by Patrick Frater
Tuesday, 30 December 2008

HONG KONG – Auditors delivered a 'going concern' qualification to the half year results of Hong Kong- and LA-based animation firm Imagi Int'l which last year delivered "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" for Warner Bros and Weinstein Co.

Company statement said that Imagi is on course to deliver CG-animated fantasy "Astro Boy," with a starry voice cast headed by Freddy Highmore, Nicolas Cage and Bill Nighy, for release in October 2009. And it revealed progress on the three upcoming projects, "Gatchaman," "Tusker" and "Cat Tale."

But audit firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu said "it is uncertain whether the Group will have the necessary financial resources to complete these animated pictures."

"At 30 September 2008, the group had bank and cash balances of approximately HK$88.9 million ($11.5 million,) while it is expected to incur approximately HK$512 million ($66 million) cash outlay to complete its animation pictures and to meet its daily operating expenses in coming years up to June 2010 (of which approximately HK$353 million [$45.6 million] is required within the next 12 months) before revenue from the animation pictures is generated," Deloitte said.

"The directors are actively pursuing various funding sources to meet the group's cash flow requirements…. However, it is uncertain whether these fund raising exercises will be successful," Deloitte said. "Consequently, in the absence of evidence that the group will be successful in raising the necessary funding as and when it is required, we consider that there is a material uncertainty which may cast significant doubt on the group’s ability to operate as a going concern."

Deloitte did not qualify the company's 2007-08 annual report which it audited in July.

For the half year to September, company reported losses of HK$21.8 million ($2.81 million) compared with HK$27.1 million ($3.50 million,) on revenues down from HK$12.5 million ($1.61 million) to HK$1.56 million ($0.2 million).

Imagi said that in line with expanded use of 3-D by competitors Pixar, DreamWorks and Disney, Imagi said that the most exciting sequences of "Astro Boy" will be delivered in Stereo 3-D and said that "Gatchaman and "Tusker" will be entirely in stereo 3-D. "Tusker," an India-set elephant tale which was once set up at DreamWorks, is to be directed by Lorna Cook from a script by Ted Talley and produced by Brooke Breton.

Continue reading "Imagi's Financial Future?"...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Santa Moderno

Happy Holidays from AstroBoy World!

These 3" Astro and Kimba figures are part of the Tezuka Moderno line created by Organic Hobby. They are special holiday limited editions which were released November 2007. You might still be able to find one if you look hard enough, but quantities were limited so these are very collectible.

Such a cool simple style on these guys! I want to collect them all. Hope it's not too late to start!

Continue reading "Santa Moderno"...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Fred Ladd has the Right Stuf(f)

The Anime Today Podcast from has an incredible interview with the Grandfather of Astro Boy, Mr. Fred Ladd. In it he talks about his upcoming book, the Kimba/Lion King controversy, the live action Speed Racer movie, the upcoming CG animated Astro Boy movie, and much more. It's one of those interviews where you wish it would just go on and on, because everything in it is solid gold.

Make sure you listen to it right here. I totally recommend that all fans check this out.

Some interesting news may have come out of this interview. Fred has been in contact with people at Imagi, and one of the things he talks about is that they asked him about the theme song. That would imply, at least possibly, that the 60's version of the English Astro Boy theme song might just be in the film!

Continue reading "Fred Ladd has the Right Stuf(f)"...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ain't it Cool's Black Jack Contest Winners

Ain't it Cool News recently held a comic art contest where the winners got copies of Vertical's Black Jack manga. I had no idea this was going on, and if I did I probably would have entered something. Even so, I doubt I would have won, because some of these comics are absolutely hilarious!

You've got to see these! Check out the winning entries and see some Tezuka tributes the likes of which you've never seen before!

Continue reading "Ain't it Cool's Black Jack Contest Winners"...

Korean Toys in Kansas

And another toy post!

The Spencer Museum of Art on the University of Kansas campus has got a very cool exhibit going on right now all about Korean toys from the 70's and 80's. Of course, Japanese anime culture has had a big effect on Korea, and so famous anime characters like Astro Boy are a part of that. Clearly, toys like this often interpret characters in unique and often bizarre ways! Take a look at how Astro is just as tall as Superman!

You can see more information about the exhibit on The Pitch Kansas City and on It on until January 24. If you're in the area, check it out for me and tell me what it's like!

Continue reading "Korean Toys in Kansas"...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Tin Toys

My friend Rin recently went on a trip to Disney World, and while at the Epcot Center she took a few pictures of an awesome display of classic Japanese tin toys found in the Japan pavilion. Click the images for a larger look at them.

This sign introduces the collection.

Here's Astro Boy in all his tin plated glory! Ha ha, he's kinda chubby here. Behind him you can see the super hero Mirrorman.

What Japanese toy collection would be complete without Ultraman? The skull-headed guy is an interesting character called "Ogon Bat", also known as Phantoman. Ogon Bat was created in Japan in 1930, making him the very first superhero ever. There was a manga version created by Osamu Tezuka, as well as an anime version that was translated into several languages.

Astro rides a motorcycle! What purpose does that serve when he has rockets in his feet? The purpose of being a cool toy, I guess. Looks like there's some kind of vehicle behind it based on Big X, another Tezuka character.

And of course, we have Godzilla. Being made primarily out of metal and paint rather than plastic gives this toy of The Big G an interesting look here.

Such awesome pieces of Japanese toy history. I love looking at this stuff. There's a certain unique charm about how these famous characters were rendered into stylized toys in Japan back in the day. Big time thanks to Rin for taking these pictures for me!

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

As if He Couldn't Get Any Cooler

Wow, I had no idea that Osamu Tezuka played the accordion, but there it is! Apparently, he liked to surprise people by showing off his musical skills. I guess you could say he's still surprising people, despite the obvious handicap of being deceased!

This picture comes from Harvey Deneroff's Blog, who says that "Astro Boy and Anime Come to the Americas", the book he wrote with Fred Ladd, is now available for sale from publisher MacFarland, as well as other online retail outlets like Amazon. It is set for official publication in March of 2009, so this is a chance to get a hold of this anticipated book a little early. Several more images will be in the book, so it'll be quite interesting to see what other surprises it may hold for us.

And if anyone disagrees with me over whether playing the accordion is cool or not, need I remind you about that other accordion playing God.

Continue reading "As if He Couldn't Get Any Cooler"...

More on the MW movie

Here we have the trailer for the live action adaptation of Osamu Tezuka's manga "MW", set for release in Japan next year.

SciFi Japan has an excellent and detailed article about the film with plot details and several clear images.

More about this movie can be found, in Japanese, on the official MW movie website.

Looks creepy and interesting. This film, as with the manga, will certainly be a change of pace for those who only think Tezuka could make cute kids' stuff.

Continue reading "More on the MW movie"...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Still the King

The Japan Times has an excellent new article about the enduring popularity of Osamu Tezuka's manga work. It talks about recent reprinted editions of Tezuka classics in Japan, and some of the events surrounding the 80th anniversary of his birth last month. Also mentioned is the upcoming MW live action movie, and the Black Jack kyogen performance.

You can read the article on the Japan Times Online website, or click the link below for an archived version right here.

Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008

Late 'manga' pioneer Tezuka still the king
Dead now 19 years, Astro Boy creator's works still in high demand, reissued to the delight of ever-younger fan base
Kyodo News

"Manga" comic artist Osamu Tezuka has been dead 19 years, but the creator of Astro Boy remains the focus of attention of young people and versions of his works reissued this year line the shelves of bookstores.

Astro Boy, or Mighty Atom, Tezuka's most famous creation, emerged in 1952 as a sequel to science-fiction manga Captain Atom and lasted until 1968. Astro Boy also appeared on TV in 1963 as Japan's first animated program.

This year marks the 80th anniversary of Tezuka's birth. He was born in November 1928, graduated from Osaka University with a medical degree and left behind a legacy as a manga master, animator and producer before his death in 1989.

As young people's interest in things Tezuka has grown, Shogakukan Inc. reissued three of his works, including "Kirihito Sanka" ("Ode to Kirihito") in March along with commentary.

Publisher Goma-Books followed with a reprint of "Ribon no Kishi" ("Princess Knight"). It also published "Tezuka Osamu World," a collection of the last installments of his representative pieces.

Commenting on the popularity of Tezuka's reissued manga, an editor at a publishing house said the best-selling writers of today can't keep up with the pace of his works hitting bookstores.

Events celebrating Tezuka's birth and works were held in November and more take place this month.

A symposium was held at the Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum in Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture, on Nov. 3, the date he was born. Manga artist Reiji Matsumoto was among those who attended.

A new "kyogen" noh comedy featuring Tezuka's "Black Jack" science-fiction manga as its motif is slated for Dec. 19 and 20.

Tezuka displayed his medical knowledge in portraying Black Jack as a talented surgeon who practiced illegally, and used radical and supernatural skills to fight mystery diseases.

Tezuka's die-hard fans in their 40s and 50s who read his manga in serial form in magazines are making way for younger fans, including teenagers who learned about him through "anime" and at libraries.

Some tapped Tezuka Productions to learn more about him and his works.

A motion picture based on his work "MW" will be released next year. The main character in "MW," which ran in serialized form from 1976 to 1978, is a diligent, efficient banker on the one hand and a brutal killer on the other.

Shinzo Matsuhashi, who produced the film, said it will appeal to viewers during this time of global tension.

Speaking on the universality of Tezuka's creations, associate professor Yukari Fujimoto of Meiji University said the artist had a firm view of the world "at the bottom."

"The dualism of his characters torn between good and evil has the power to draw the young people of today," Fujimoto said.

Active research into and discussions on Tezuka's works are under way. Some people take exception to views that his "Shin Takarajima" ("New Treasure Island"), regarded as his beginning in effect as a manga creator, was the starting point of all manga in postwar Japan.

In a critical biography titled "Tezuka Osamu" published in September by Minerva Publishing Co., Doshisha University professor Osamu Takeuchi cast a spotlight on Tezuka when he was in a slump in the late 1950s in the face of the emergence of "gekiga" narrative comic strips.

"He never neglected (making) superhuman efforts behind the scenes," Takeuchi said.

Fujimoto said Tezuka "was inducted into the hall of fame as the god of manga, but has since become the subject of more down-to-earth discussion. However, he's undoubtedly the most important postwar manga artist."

Continue reading "Still the King"...