This week saw the release of the much anticipated BELLE, Mamoru Hosoda’s 7th feature film. The film instantly made headlines at Cannes with a 14-minute standing ovation. The film later made headlines among anime fans during its theatrical release back in January of this year. Both the original Japanese and the newly dubbed English version were shown in theaters nation-wide. In the film’s U.S. opening weekend it made $1.6 million from 1,326 theaters, and a total of $1.8 million over the four-day Martin Luther King Day holiday frame.
The film received five Annie Award nominations making it the most nominations for a Japanese anime film ever at the show, even surpassing previous films Spirited Away, Millennium Actress, and the more recent, Weathering with You. Most notable, the film’s cast, both in English and Japanese, were both praise for their vocal performance. This is both Kaho Nakamura and Kylie McNeil’s first anime, voice over performance.
Kylie McNeil, already an upcoming actor and singer in the theater scene in New York, had zero film credits, aside from an off-Broadway show “Runaways“, BELLE is Kylie’s very first film credit.
Join us in celebration of Mamoru Hosoda’s BELLE release with this special interview with the voice of Suzu / BELLE, Kylie McNeil! Back for a more in-depth and formal interview, Kylie walks through her experiences working behind the mic, voicing Suzu / BELLE.
Watch our interview above and learn how you could win our exclusive BELLE Bundle, which includes:
The BELLE movie (Steelbook ed.), A copy of the BELLE soundtrack (from Japan) & an autograph print from Paul Castro Jr. (the voice of BEAST)
all this and more in our exclusive interview! Don’t forget to subscribe for more anime and voice actor content or subscribe to our site:
It’s important to note that there are two versions of the film, Decide and Glory; this review will cover Decide; there is no release date set for “Glory” as of the release of this review.
Debuting as the first CG film in the series, it serves as a bridge between the original manga series’ timeline and its sequel, which saw Ryoma leaving Japan for America for the US Open and then appearing at the All-Japan Junior Training Camp in Japan.
The film follows Ryoma Echizen, inspired by his tennis champion father Nanjirō Echizen, is determined to take his game to the next level and train in the US. But in the middle of an intense tennis battle to save his classmate Sakuno from “dangerous” villains, they somehow find themselves transported to the past, just as Ryoma’s father is about to face his final championship match at the US Open – when he was mysteriously forced to retire. Takeshi Konomi, The Prince of Tennis creator, oversaw the film’s production and wrote some of the music and lyrics for the featured songs.
Yes, this film has a few sporadic musical numbers (perhaps inspired from Musical: The Prince of Tennis) combined with its CG animation style making it feel like a Disney film or an episode of Miraculous Ladybug. Still, as sporadic musical numbers go, they are entertaining to watch. This film also makes for a great kid-friendly film and is perfect for introducing your kids to anime and The Prince of Tennis series. Although the film pays homage to the series’ comedic genre, it exaggerates, making the featured slap-stick comedy dull to older audiences. Like the original series, there is still tennis action on the court, mainly focusing on using tennis as a form of distraction; the real tennis action comes towards the end of the film with Nanjirō Echizen facing off an American character.
Throughout the film, there are major plot holes; for example, there is no explanation for the time travel nor an explanation as to why a particular character is seen in a wheelchair at the beginning but is completely fine throughout the film. These are only a few questions that seem to be unanswered; however, as mentioned above, this is only one version of the film; therefore, it’s safe to assume that any plot holes or questions may be answered in “Glory.”
Overall, the film lives up to The Prince of Tennis legacy; it’s a unique take on ThePrince of Tennis series and its characters and a concrete bridge between the US Open and U-17 Training camp gap. It’s a fun-packed, family-friendly film that will capture both old and new fans.
Experience the newest addition to The Prince of Tennis series and purchase your tickets HERE.
Ever since the release of Genshin Impact 1.3 in February 3, 2021, XIAO’s design and character traits made him an instant fan favorite. From his character stats to his mysterious demeanor, XIAO draws in fans from around the world.
Join me and voice actor Laila Berzins, as we discuss her career origins and experiences voicing XIAO in Genshin Impact. Get to know the voice behind everyone’s favorite “angsty, emo teenager” in our most recent Genshin Impact interview:
Learn how you can win an autographed print, signed by Laila Berzins!
Watch our interview above for instructions on how to enter. Deadline to enter the giveaway: May 7th, 2022
GKIDS and Fathom Events continue their partnership into 2022 with the release of Pompo The Cinephilefeature film on April 27 and 28. POMPO THE CINEPHILE will play in select cinemas nationwide on Wednesday, April 27th (Japanese ver) and Thursday, April 28th (English dubbed).
In addition to the full feature, audiences will view a special introduction from director Takayuki Hirao, exclusive to the Fathom Events screenings. Fan preview events will be followed by a limited theatrical release in select markets nationwide by GKIDS starting April 29th.
Known for God Eater (Anime seires) & The Garden of Sinners, Takayuki Hiraoreturns to the director’s chair with production from the all-new studio CLAP. POMPO THE CINEPHILE was domestically released on June 4, 2021, and swiftly became an indie hit.
The film is an adaptation of Shogo Sugitani’s manga of the same name. The series was published on pixiv Comic website and later, collected in six tankōbon volumes. In July 2018, Sugitani release a spin off titled Fran: The Cinéphile (映画大好きフランちゃん, Eiga Daisuki Fran-chan.
Pompo is a talented and gutsy producer in “Nyallywood,” the movie-making capital of the world. Although she’s known for B-movies, one day Pompo tells her movie-loving but apprehensive assistant Gene that he will direct her next script: a delicate drama about an aging and tormented creative genius, starring the legendary and Brando-esque actor Martin Braddock, and a young actress seeking her first break. But when the production heads towards chaos, can Gene rise to Pompo’s challenge, and succeed as a first-time director?
Pompo the Cinephile is a rollicking, exuberant ode to the power of the movies, and the joys and heartbreak of the creative process, as a new director and his team devote their lives to the pursuit of a “masterpiece.”
Anime Expo & Iconic events have partnered up to bring anime fans the first ever AX cinema Nights featuring a new full-length anime film adventure, RYOMA! THE PRINCE OF TENNIS!
What is AX Cinema Nights?
AX Anime Expo Cinema Nights is an in-person movie event series celebrating the best new and classic anime films by bringing them to theaters across North America. Leveraging the brand power of Anime Expo, the largest Japanese culture event in North America, AX Cinema Nights will bring passionate fans together for immersive and unforgettable community experiences. Beginning with the newest addition to The Prince of Tennis franchise.
“Over the course of Anime Expo’s 31-year history, one of the greatest lessons we’ve learned is that anime has an incredible gift for bringing people together. [. . .] That’s why we’re so thrilled to team up with Iconic Events and Eleven Arts to kick off AX Anime Expo Cinema Nights with Ryoma! The Prince of Tennis and create even more opportunities for anime fans nationwide to grow their communities and share their love of the artform with friends both new and old.”
– Ray Chiang, CEO of Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (SPJA).
RYOMA! THE PRINCE OF TENNIS is a new feature film about tennis prodigy Ryoma Echizen and is based on the acclaimed manga series, The Prince of Tennis, and its sequel, The New Prince of Tennis, written and illustrated by renowned manga author, Takeshi Konomi. This will be the franchise’s first ever CG film and features an all-new story that takes place between the original manga series’ timeline and its sequel. Creator Takeshi Konomi personally supervised the film’s production and wrote the music and lyrics for all the featured songs.
Eleven Arts is very excited to be a part of this partnership with Iconic Events Releasing and Anime Expo’s AX Cinema Nights to bring forth a new theatrical experience for anime fans to enjoy [. .. ] We are honored to kickstart this experience with Ryoma! The Prince of Tennis , a title from such an iconic franchise.
-Ko Mori, CEO and President of Eleven Arts
Inspired by his tennis champion father, Ryoma is determined to take his game to the next level and train in the US. But in the middle of an intense tennis battle to save his classmate Sakuno from dangerous villains, they somehow find themselves transported to the past, just as Ryoma’s father is about to face his final championship match at the US Open – when he was mysteriously forced to retire. The innovative 3D digital animation brings the magnificent and colorful world of The Prince of Tennis to life on the big screen in this captivating film.
Over 60 million copies of The Prince of Tennis manga have been sold since the series debuted in 1999 in Shueisha’s Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine. The sequel rekindled the series in 2009 in Shueisha’s Jump Square magazine. Over the past 20+ years, the blockbuster franchise has spawned a hit anime series, animated feature films, live action films, stage plays, radio shows, music collaborations, and video games.
Ryoma! The Prince of Tennis is a quintessential and beloved property among anime and manga fans. We are excited to join with Anime Expo and Eleven Arts to present this exciting film to American audiences as part of AX Cinema Nights, and to expand our anime theatrical programming and continue the collaboration with Anime Expo.
-steve Bunnell, CEO of Iconic Events Releasing.
Screenings will take place beginning May 12 at theaters nationwide. On-sale dates and theaters will be announced shortly.
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Japanese voice actress, Minori Suzuki has announced that she will be releasing her 6th single “BROKEN IDENTITY” on June 1, 2022. The song will be used as the opening theme of I’m Quitting Heroing, a new anime airing on April 5th in Japan.
The anime’s promotional video above features the chorus of this song, which is a hard rock tune, unlike anything Suzuki has done before. The single will have a total of six songs, including two new coupling tracks and an instrumental of each.
The single will be released in three formats: Limited Edition A will include a Blu-ray Disc containing the Minori Suzuki Anime Song Covers Collection, a sequel to the Minori Suzuki Covers Collection that gained popularity on YouTube last year. This will include four newly recorded covers, along with comment videos, and a self-cover of “Saihate” that was only performed once during a special Livestream to commemorate the release of her previous single. You can find Limited Edition A available for preorder here:
Limited Edition B will include a CD containing the sound source of Minori Suzuki 2nd LIVE TOUR 2021～Make My Story!～, which was held last year. It will be a 60-minute recording and contain all 11 songs. More specifics about tracks will be announced at a later date. You can find Limited Edition B available for preorder here:
Minori Suzuki also has an impressive resume as a voice actress, voicing characters such as Hajime Fujiwara from The Idolmaster Cinderella Girls, Akiho Shinomoto from Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card, Uiui from SHOW BY ROCK!! Mashumairesh!!, Ena Shinonome from Project Sekai: Colorful Stage! feat. Hatsune Miku, and Agnes Digital from Umamusume: Pretty Derby.
Suzuki is currently one of the most powerful voice actress artists in the business. Using her outstanding vocal ability, a wide range of expressions, and striking smile as her weapon, she energizes everyone who watches her perform.
Voice actor and music artist, Nao Toyama announced that she will be performing the opening theme to Ascendance of a Bookworm season 3 titled, “Ano Hi no Kotoba“. The announcement came during Nao Toyama’s Birthday Celebration ~Naobou is quitting the 20s ~ held at EX THEATER ROPPONGI.
This 6th single, which is also part 3 of her ‘5th Anniversary Plan’, will include both “Ano Hi no Kotoba” and “Growing.” “Ano Hi no Kotoba” was written by singer-songwriter Sakura Fujiwara and composed and arranged by Soulife. The following are direct comments from Nao Toyama, Sakura Fujira & Soulife.
I worked really hard with the anime staff to ensure that “Ano Hi no Kotoba” matches season 3’s story. In fact, I almost ended up crying many times during the recording. May the people around you find happiness. I hope that this song resonates with everyone who is working hard towards a future that they chose.
– Nao Toyama
I wrote the lyrics to this song after watching the previous seasons as a viewer. When I heard the sound source of Nao Toyama singing them to the lovely pop tune created by Soulife, I was so impressed that I immediately sent the director a message saying, “This is amazing!” I wanted to make it a warm song where Myne turns the pages one by one and expresses her gratitude for the encounters and events that she has experienced so far, so we had many back and forth exchanges to complete it, and I’m delighted to see it finally released. I hope you enjoy it
– Sakura Fujiwara
When I was asked to compose this song, I carefully read the original story and decided to create a song that would bring out a more mature quality than anything Nao Toyama has done before.
While it retains the classical, medieval European elements of past theme songs, it also has a “sadness” that people say is typical of my work. The result is a melodious and encompassing song. The main character grows with a mixture of anxiety and expectation in the lyrics written by Sakura Fujiwara. I hope listeners will feel the excitement of turning to the blank page of “today” with this opening theme. I look forward to watching Myne’s growth with you all!
Nao Toyama made her voice acting debut in 2010. She attracted a lot of attention for her role as Kanon Nakagawa in the TV anime The World God Only Knows.
After that, she went on to play characters in numerous popular works, such as Karen Kujo in Kin-iro Mosaic, Chitoge Kirisaki in Nisekoi, Reina Prowler in MacrossΔ, and Rin Shima in Yuru CampΔ.
In 2019, she held her first solo tour and performed overseas in Taipei and Shanghai. The following year, she celebrated her 10th anniversary as a voice actress by releasing her character song best album “Special Thanks,” which placed third on the Oricon Weekly Ranking.
In 2021, she released a mini-concept album titled “off” with the theme of, ‘rest and healing’ in May and her fifth single “Samenai Maho” in November. 2022 marks her fifth year as a singer.
Today musical artist , Yui Makino released her new digital single “Touch of Hope.”
“Touch of Hope” is the theme song to The Girl from the Other Side: Siúil, a Rún, a feature-length animation based on a Japanese manga series by Nagabe that was completed in March last year.
The Girl from the Other Side: Siúil, a Rún is a story of a little girl named who was abandon in a forest with strange beasts. One day she befriends one of these beast, one who seems to be nicer than the rest, and proceeds to call him “Teacher”. Together they embark on journey to find more about Shiva’s background, while “Teacher” serves as a guardian and protector. Their bond seems to transcend their incompatible natures, becoming a folktale of two outcasts -one human, one inhuman- who linger in the hazy twilight that separates night from day.
The subtitle in the title, “Siúil, a Rún” is a reference to a traditional Irish song, which is sung in the point of view of a woman lamenting a lover who has embarked on a military career, and indicating her willingness to support him. “Touch of Hope“ pays homage to the traditional Irish song by singing some of its original lyrics.
The Girl from the Other Side was released in 2019 as a short 10 minute, art animation and was highly acclaimed at national and international film festivals.
In March 10th 2022, A feature-length animation was produced and released by Wit Studio and directed by Yutaro Kubo and Satomi Maiya set to be released with the manga’s bonus volume.
To fund this production, Wit Studio held a crowdfunding campaign from March to May last year, and the target amount of 3 million yen was achieved in just four hours. In the end, the campaign raised over 20 million yen from 1,418 users.
“Where else can I hear Yui Makino?”
You may be surprised to learn that Makino made her voice acting debut in April 2005 as Sakura, the heroine of Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, an anime based on an original story by CLAMP. At the same time, she made her pre-debut singing “Omna Magni,” the ending theme for Genesis of Aquarion produced by Yoko Kanno.
Later that same year, she released “Amrita,” the theme song of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle the Movie: The Princess in the Birdcage Kingdom.. Since then, she has voiced many anime characters and worked on many anime tie-up songs, demonstrating her diverse talents as a voice actress, singer, and pianist.
In August 2021, she released a Blu-ray version of Yui Makino Live Concert Five6three7, her 15th anniversary concert held in April (released and distributed by Amuse), and in December, she released the single “Espero,” the theme song of ARIA The BENEDIZIONE.
Yui Makino will be releasing a new album in 2022 under the FlyingDog label. More information will be released at a later date, so please keep your eye on Yui!
Ever since her appearance as an NPC, Yae Miko has been among the top, fan-favorite characters in Geshin Impact. With the release of 2.5 at the of end February, fans finally got a glimpse of the voice behind the mysterious editor-in-chief & shrine maiden of Grand Narukami Shrine!
Watch our exclusive interview with voice actor, Ratana and get to know the voice behind YAE MIKO!
HOW TO ENTER
Subscribe to our YouTube channel here, and answer the following questions on the video’s comment section (on YouTube):
What would be the name of Ratana’s Publishing House AND Why do you like Yae Miko?
Winner(s) will be contacted via YouTube and email using their YouTube usernames. Deadline is April 2nd 2022.
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On February 17th, it was announced that actress and singer, Maaya Sakamoto will be singing theme songs for two TV anime starting in April in Japan.
The first is the opening theme for Deaimon, a story set in an old confectionery store in Kyoto. The OP is titled “Sumire” the lyrics were written by Sakamoto herself, and the composition and arrangement were done by Shigeru Kishida of Kururi, a Japanese rock band from Kyoto, appropriately matching the anime’s setting.
Deaimon’s protagonist, Nagumo Irino has dreams of becoming a member of a band and runs away from home to live in Tokyo. Ten years later, He receives a letter from home stating his father is in the hospital and asking him to take over the family shop, giving up on his dreams, he returns home. During his ten-year-long absence, a ten-year-old girl named Itsuka Yukihira has been working in the shop. In fact, Nagumo’s mother (voiced by Sakamoto) has become a sort of foster mom to Itsuka. Nagumo’s mother puts Itsuka and Nagumo against each other to see who will overpower the other and take over the family shop.
The series is written and illustrated by Rin Asano who, according to MAL is credited in the creation of Pangaea, Final Fantasy XV: Koushiki Comic Anthology, Tengai Retrogical, Choko Beast!! to name a few.
Deaimon began serialization in Kadokawa Shoten’s seinen manga magazine Young Ace in May 2016 and has been collected in twelve tankōbon volumes from Kadokawa Comics Ace as of October 2021. The anime is set to premiere on April 6, 2022 on AT-X.
Sakamoto comments on the making of “Sumire“
“[. . .] I wrote the lyrics and asked Shigeru Kishida of Kururi, a band that I’ve always loved, to handle the composition. I think that I was able to write very peaceful lyrics, guided by the warm melody. Sumire (Violets) are a common flower in everyday life, and you can even find them growing in gaps in concrete. They’re so small that you might overlook them, but they are actually very powerful and huddle together to bloom. I chose this title due to the characteristics that these flowers share with people. I’m delighted to have another precious song that I can continue singing into the future.” -Maaya Sakamoto
(Via official press release)
In addition, Sakamoto will also be the lead vocals on the ED theme for the third season of the popular animeAscendance of a Bookworm titled, “Kotoba ni Dekinai“. This series has sold over 6 million copies (including e-books).
The story follows Urano Motosu, a book-loving post-secondary college student and soon-to-be librarian who ends up crushed to death beneath a pile of books at her house during an earthquake. With her dying breath, she wishes to be reincarnated in a world where she can read books forever. Urano awakens in the body of a weak, five-year-old girl named Myne in a world where books are scarce and only available to elites. Myne, retaining her memories from her previous life, decides to create and print her own books so that she can read again.
The series was first published as a Light novel in 2015 and is written by Miya Kazuki and illustrated by Yū Shiina. Later that same year, It was adapted as a manga with illustrations done by Suzuka (later changed to Ryo Namino and Hikaru Katsuki in part 3 and part 4 of the manga series). The manga series is currently on-going.
The series later premiered as an anime in October 3, 2019, with direction by Mitsuru Hongo who is best known for Outlaw Star and Sakura Wars: The Movie.
Sakamoto commented on the making of “Kotoba ni Dekinai“
“[. . .] I handled the lyrics and composition. This song is full of feelings of gratitude for irreplaceable people and places, and feelings that inspire you when you’re discouraged. In that sense, it’s a sad song but also one that allows you to positively move forward. People who are going through many new encounters and farewells as their environment changes this spring may be particularly able to identify with it. Please give it a listen.”
(via official press release)
In voiceover, Maaya Sakamoto is best known as Hitomi Kanzaki in The Vision of Escaflowne, Jeanne d’Arc in Fate/Apocrypha, Haruhi Fujioka in Ouran High School Host Club, and Ciel Phantomhive in Black Butler, to name a few characters. As a singer, she’s known for performing songs in both English and Japanese. Her early work and collaboration with renounced anime music composer Yoko Kanno in 1996 put her in the spotlight when she released her debut single “Yakusoku wa Iranai.” She later went to release the next selected singles, “Tune the Rainbow”, “Loop”, “Ame ga Furu”, and “Triangler” all reaching the top 10 Oricon singles chart. “Triangler” in particular won the 13th Animation Kobe Theme Song Award.
Her albums have had similar success, with Shōnen Alice and Yūnagi Loop, both reaching the top 10 Oricon albums chart; and her album You Can’t Catch Me, released on January 12, 2011, became her first release to ever reach number 1.