From acclaimed studio Production I.G, and directors Masashi Ando and Masayuki Miyaji comes THE DEER KING.
In the aftermath of a brutal war, former soldier Van toils in a mine controlled by the ruling empire. One day, his solitary existence is upended when a pack of wild dogs carrying a deadly and incurable disease attack, leaving only Van and a young girl named Yuna as survivors. Finally free, the pair seek out a simple existence in the countryside but are pursued by nefarious forces. Intent on protecting Yuna at all costs, Van must uncover the true cause of the plague ravaging the kingdom—and its possible cure.
The Deer King is a sweeping fantasy epic that marks the directorial debut of acclaimed animator, Masashi Ando who worked with famed Studio Ghibli (Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke) and with directors Satoshi Kon (Paprika, “Paranoia Agent”) and Makoto Shinkai (your name.). The film is also co-directed by Masayuki Miyaji who is best known for directing the 2009 series “Xam’s: Lost Memories” and work on Studio Ghibli films such as “My Neighbors The Yamadas”.
The film is based on the original book series, by author Nahoko Uehashi. The book series has printed 2.2 million copies in Japan to date. Uehashi is one of Japan’s most well-known and popular children’s writers, and has won numerous awards, including the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Award. She’s an associate professor at a Japanese university, and has a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology and studies indigenous peoples in Australia.
Uehashi’s other works, Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit and The Beast Player have had anime adaptations in 2007 and 2009, with The Beast Player getting a manga adaptation as well.
Currently, Uehashi’s most popular, English-translated work is The Beast Player and be purchased on Amazon.
Distributed by Gkids Films, watch THE DEER KING now playing in select theaters nationwide, find the closest theater near you, by visiting the film’s official website www.THEDEERKING.com
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.
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.
Don’t miss the announcement! Subscribe to our website below!
Known for his emotionally touching and visually captivating films, such as Wolf Children, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, and Summer Wars, award-winning film director Mamoru Hosoda is back with his ninth film, BELLE.
Now playing in theaters, Belle is a modern adaptation of Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont’s Beauty and the Beast and could be considered a spiritual sequel to Hosoda’s 2009 film, Summer Wars, as it also deals with a virtual world.
The film starts with Suzu Naito (Voiced by Kylie McNeill), a shy 17-year old high school student living with her father (Voiced by Ben Lepley). She lives haunted by the memory of her mother’s death at a young age. Since then, Suzu has been living in her shadow, having almost no close connections and no self confidence. At least, until one day, with the help of her one close friend Hiroka Betsuyaku (Voiced by Jessica DiCicco), she discovers the online virtual world of ‘U‘ where over 5 billion users log on daily. When Suzu logs in for the first time, U automatically creates a beautiful, freckled, pink-haired avatar based on her biometrics, and she nicknames herself “Bell” (鈴 = Suzu is Japanese for Bell).
Enjoying her newfound life in anonymity; Suzu, using her voice and overcoming her trauma, develops Bell into a world-famous singer among U. Rapidly gaining popularity, Suzu holds events and concerts as Bell in U, and fans come to dub her as ‘Belle‘ (French for “Beautiful”) However, during one of Belle’s online concerts, she is interrupted by an avatar named only as “TheDragon” (Voiced by Paul Castro Jr).
Intrigued, Suzu & Hiro embark on a journey to discover the person behind The Dragon. Along the way, Suzu realizes the real power of being anonymous online and the many reasons why people like her escape to U from their own lives.
What type of story is BELLE?
The film seems to be confused about what type of story it wants to tell; whether it is an action-adventure story, as Suzu begins to discover the virtual world of U as Bell, or a romantic story, as the plot depicts the ‘forbidden’ nature in the relationship between Bell and The Dragon and Suzu’s determination to help The Dragon. One thing is for sure, the film is a musical feature. Unlike a Disney film, where characters spontaneously spring into a musical number often without warning, the film does a great job in coordinating the music with the imagery that’s on screen.
The film touches on several sensitive topics and themes, such as overcoming personal trauma. The film successfully portrays one’s desire to escape real situations for a glamorous, anonymous lifestyle; a secret, secondary life where real-life issues are nonexistent. Additionally, many viewers find themselves connected to the main character as the film dives into the psychological impact of dealing with a personal loss and its effects on a person’s daily life.
The music in this film is captivating and leaves the viewers in astonishment, undoubtedly worthy of a 14-minute standing ovation. Kaho Nakumora (Suzu/Belle in Japanese) and Kylie McNeill’s vocal performances are phenomenal and are presented with a profusion of emotional appeal. Kylie’s vocals perfectly embody Kaho’s performance as BELLE and, with Ludvig Forssell’s creative songwriting skills alongside Mamoru Hosoda and actress Kaho Nakumora, make exquisite lyrics.
“Should I Watch it?”
Though the film may contain some unnecessary subplots, it makes up for its visual presentation and musical and vocal performances. The film portrays Suzu with relatable qualities that speak to the viewer, whether you have experienced personal loss or not. If the above mentioned is not convincing enough to watch BELLE in theaters, consider that this film was worthy of a 14-minute standing ovation during the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.
Perhaps cast members, Kylie Mcneill and Paul Castro Jr can convince you through our exclusive interviews. Watch as Kylie & Paul share behind the scene stories and their experiences working on BELLE.
Interview With Kylie McNeill
Interview With Paul Castro Jr
We also included a brief Interview with Mamoru Hosoda we conducted during the 2021 Animation Is Film Festival in Hollywood, CA.
Watch BELLE the newest movie by award-winning filmmaker, Mamoru Hosoda (Mirai, Wolf Children, Summer Wars, and more), comes a fantastical, heartfelt story of growing up in the age of social media.
Suzu is a shy, everyday high school student living in a rural village. For years, she has only been a shadow of herself. But when she enters “U”, a massive virtual world, she escapes into her online persona as Belle, a gorgeous and globally-beloved singer. One day, her concert is interrupted by a monstrous creature chased by vigilantes. As their hunt escalates, Suzu embarks on an emotional and epic quest to uncover the identity of this mysterious “beast” and to discover her true self in a world where you can be anyone.
English Dub Trailer
You can watch Belle in theaters and IMAX in both Japanese and English starting January 14, 2022,get your ticket now!
For the first time, outside Japan, Mamoru Hosoda’s newest film BELLE had a chance to capture western audiences’ hearts during the Animation is Film Festival 2021 in Hollywood!
In 1999, Mamoru Hosoda began his journey with Dejimon Adobenchā (Digimon Adventure) as his first anime directorial debut; since then, Hosoda has developed this craft and quickly became one of Japan’s most predominant figures in Japanese animation. In 2011, Hosoda founded his own animation studio, Studio Chizu.
Hosoda developed his own unique and highly influential animation style, which can be seen and felt throughout his work. His works are heartfelt, beautifully animated films and convey a sympathetic aesthetic element, often relatable. In 2019, his adventure fantasy comedy film, MIRAI, was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film. His most recent film, BELLE, premiered at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival, receiving a 14-minute standing ovation.
In BELLE, Hosoda visually transforms the internet, as the popular virtual world known as ‘U’. In a plot where characters face personal turmoil, isolation, a sense of belongingness, and the need to pretend to be someone else, Hosoda effectively exploits the ability to remain anonymous online and how anonymity can have its benefits and disadvantages on its users.
We had the opportunity to briefly speak with Hosoda during the Animation is Film Festival 2021 regarding his newest work and his thoughts on MIRAI’s Oscar nomination:
*The video below may contain SPOILERS* After the screening, Hosoda addressed the audience members and answered fan questions:
The film pays homage to Beauty and The Beast (specifically Disney’s version) and is composed of tantalizing visual animation with extraordinary, captivating music tracks. In addition, Hosoda mentioned working with veteran Disney animator Jin Kim as Belle’s lead character designer earlier this year. (Below are some of Kim’s BELLE concept Sketches).
Kim has worked for Disney since 1995 and is credited in over 30 Disney titles including, Zootpia, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, and his most recent work Raya and the Last Dragon. Adding to Kim’s involvement, Studio Chizu also teamed up with Irish animation studioCartoon Salonto produce the background art for the popular virtual world, ‘U’.
Get ready to dive into the beautiful world of U and watch BELLE this spring! Gkids is set to release BELLE in theaters on January 14th, 2022. For more information, visit GKids.com.
The Lupin the 3rd franchise created by Monkey Punch began in 1967 and has spanned a variety of manga, TV series, games, a theme park ride, and musical adaptations. It featured acclaimed director Hayao Miyazaki in his first feature film debut with The Castle of Cagliostro in 1979. The Lupin the 3rd: The First is a highly anticipated film that marks the VERY first installment in CGI for the lauded animated franchise. In recent news, the upcoming English language dub film will feature the voices of
Lupin III – Tony Oliver Daisuke Jigen – Richard Epcar Goemon Ishikawa – Lex Lang Fujiko Mine – Michelle Ruff Koichi Zenigata – Doug Erholtz Laetitia – Laurie C. Hymes Lambert – J. David Brimmer Gerard – Paul Guyet
From 2D to CGI 3D
“I’ve been looking forward to seeing Lupin III in 3DCG for a long time now. I saw the characters and story, and it looks like this new Lupin is going to have a whole new feeling to him. It’s exciting just imagining how the movie is going to turn out.”
-MONKEY PUNCH (OCT. ‘18)
An excerpt from Gkids’ Interview with LUPIN III: THE FIRST director Takashi Yamazaki:
As soon as the project began in September 2015, the 3DCG Lupin character designs were also developed. Lupin has different characteristics between the TV series and the specials, and likewise, various options were considered for this movie.
First, several character designers and concept artists were hired to develop about 30 different designs of Lupin in 2D. The Staff cast voted on the three most popular designs. Those were further improved until the final design was completed. Once Lupin was finalized, developing Daisuke Jigen, Goemon Ishikawa, and Inspector Zenigata was relatively easy by applying the same style.
However, Fujiko Mine proved to be difficult. She was portrayed as a provocative lady in the TV specials with eyes slanting upwards, whereas she was cute and playful with eyes slanting down in the series. Her characteristics changed according to the staff. After many discussions about which direction to go and whether she should be slim or voluptuous, the production team decided on the current design.
Building 3D models based on 2D concepts turned out to be challenging since small details make or break Lupin’s likeness. Two dedicated 3D modelers were building digital maquettes in ZBrush for the main characters. What resulted were completely different models, and it was hard to believe that they came from the same concept art. In the end, the one chosen was the model that was most expressive in CG animation. Attention to small details such as the sideburns and jawline were considered to finalize the 3D models.
The new characters Laetitia, Lambert, and Gerard were developed based on Director Yamazaki’s rough sketches. Lambert’s 3D model was almost entirely developed from Director Yamazaki’s sketch. Gerard’s design was less straightforward. Ultimately, the character drawn in the animatics turned out to be well-received, so the model was developed from that design.
What is great about 3DCG is its rich texture. The slick texture of Lupin’s leather jacket was made possible because of the medium. There were more than 10 different outfits designed for Fujiko and Director Yamazaki mentioned that it was like an upscale costume fitting. However, because of the budget, only a couple of outfits were developed. Fans can enjoy the carefully selected outfits in the film.
Special thanks to GKids for interviewing the film Director Takashi Yamazaki, and providing us with the said interview. For those interested in reading the entire interview please do so here (Lupin III: The First Press Kit PDF).
Follow the iconic “gentleman thief” as Lupin III returns in an action-packed, continent-spanning adventure, as Lupin III and his colorful underworld companions race to uncover the secrets of the mysterious Bresson Diary before it falls into the hands of a dark cabal that will stop at nothing to resurrect the Third Reich. The gang undertakes trap-filled tombs, aerial escapades, and daring prison escapes with the trademark wit and visual finesse that has made LUPIN THE 3RD one of the most storied animation franchises in the world, in a thrilling new caper that is sure to delight fans old and new. Watch the trailer below!
Follow Lupin at these official social media links:
Those who watched Saturday morning cartoons (aka SatAM) in the ’90s may remember Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic Underground. Garry Chalk was one of many voice actors from these shows, voicing Grounder in Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog and Dr.Robotnik in Sonic Underground, a dystopian version of the Sonic the Hedgehog TV universe.
Garry can be seen among the government officials sitting down during a meeting discussing the ‘anomaly‘ detected. It is unclear if Garry Chalk’s character in the film is more than just a minor cameo, or if there’s more than meets the eye.
Hill Top Zone
A road sign with ‘Hill Top Zone‘ can be seen seconds into the trailer. Hill Top Zone is the fifth Zone in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. The level is most notable for its geographical location, amidst the high peaks of West Side Island, which makes one wonder of its location within the film.
Green Hill Zone
This one’s pretty in your face. Right at the beginning of the trailer, Green Hill Zone can be seen right before Sonic travels into our world. It is unclear if the film will explore more of this zone (or any other) as a setting.
Sonic The Hedgehog Title Screen Emblem
The title screen emblem from Sonic The Hedgehog can be seen on Sonic’s headband. The game was originally released in 1991 for the Sega Mega Drive (Japan) and quickly became one of the most recognizable logos among hardcore Sonic fans.
Many who played Sonic The Hedgehog may remember the giant ring that would appear at the end of a level and teleport the player to special stages. The film drew inspiration from this, having sonic apparently teleport from one part of the world to another. Variations of this ability have been shown throughout the games and TV series.
Misa Amane (Death Note) and Fabiola Iglesias (Black Lagoon)
Among voice actor cameos is Shannon Chan-Kent, a Canadian based voice actress, who has voiced numerous notable characters such as Misa Amane from the hit anime series, Death Note and Fabiola Iglesias from Black Lagoon: Roberta’s Blood Trail.
She is also the singing voice of Pinkie pie, Sonata Dusk and speaking voice of Silver Spoon in My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.
Jeff Fowler’s Gopher Broke cameo
This film will feature the theatrical, directorial debut of Jeff Fowler, who previously worked on Gopher Broke, a 2004 short, animated film written and directed by Jeff Fowler.
The short film follows a hungry gopher who hatches a clever plan to get a quick snack but discovers that even the best-laid plans can go udderly awry. The opening title can be seen during Sonic’s exploration of the motel room.
A more modern and more ‘realistic‘ version of the Egg-O-Matic can be seen through half of the trailer. Although it has not been confirmed that this is, in fact, a representation of the Egg-O-Matic, it does share some similarities.
Blur Studio, although its name is not a direct reference to Sonic’s nickname “The Blue Blur“, the studio has had ties to the Sonic The Hedgehog games before the film. Blur Studios produced several CGI animated cutscenes for Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic The Hedgehog 2006.
According to an interview, by Di-O-Matic, Inc, with then Animation supervisor Leo Santos, “One particular challenge we had on the Sonic opening cinematic (and the Shadow the Hedgehog cinematics) is the fact that Sonic’s mouth is sometimes on the side, sometimes on the middle.” With Blur Studio’s experience with animating Sonic in the past, why was there a need to redesign?
Doctor Ovi Kintobor or Dr. Ivo Kintobor
This one is probably a long stretch but, Jim Carrey’s portrayal of a ‘thin‘ Robotnik is similar in appearance (somewhat) to that of Doctor Ovi Kintobor, a character that appears in the Sonic the Comic series published by Fleetway Editions in the UK. The character served as a background origin story to the present day Eggman. In other comic series published by Archie Comics, Carrey’s portrayal is similar to that of, alternate universe Robotnik, Dr. Ivo Kintobor, who is kind, generous and friendly.
Needless to say, there will probably be more hidden gems within the movie. Be on the lookout and mark your calendars for February 14th, 2020! Watch the newly released trailer here: