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Prepare for a ‘Dragon Ball Z’ Attack

January 14th, 2011 by Editor

On Saturday, the iconic anime series Dragon Ball Z launches on Hulu with the first 15 episodes from the show, available with subtitles or dubbed in English, with fresh episodes rotating in on a regular basis. To introduce — or, in some cases, reintroduce — us to the eye-popping series, FUNimation copywriter Aaron Anderson wrote us a guest blog entry.

Entertainment is escapism. We fall in love with television shows, movies, comics, and manga because it’s a blast to fantasize about strange, far-away worlds where the unthinkable is an everyday occurrence. That, in a nutshell, is the magic behind the international phenomenon that is Dragon Ball Z. Any scenario you can dream up can likely be found in one of the 291 mind-blowing episodes of DBZ. This is, after all, a show where heroic mortals fall in love with high-tech androids and produce impossibly implausible offspring. Yup. It happens.

When they asked me to blog about the reasons to love Dragon Ball Z, I spent the next couple of days communing with the hardest of hardcore Dragon Ball Z fans. I discoursed with the devoted men and women who’ve watched every episode of every installment of the franchise. I looked for old-school Otakus who decorate their dwellings with Super Saiyan figurines. And last but not least, I sought the wisdom of wild-eyed, spiky-haired dreamers who are doggedly determined to live their lives according to the code of Goku. Their collective reasons for loving DBZ filled 14 legal pads, seven external hard drives, and a supercomputer named Earl. It was a literal barrage of fanboy gushing. Tears were shed, hugs were exchanged, and Kamehameha Waves were blasted into the night as we howled at the moon.

But enough about my decent in to Dragon Ball hysteria, let’s get down to business. The following is brief rundown of the most popular answers for why fans love Dragon Ball Z. Here we go!

Action! If you want an endless supply of martial arts mayhem and bombastic battles, Dragon Ball Z is what you’re looking for. This show is all about fighting. If the characters aren’t actually fighting, you can bet they’re immersed in grueling training for an upcoming fight against an opponent more powerful than anything our world has ever seen. Goku and the Z-Fighters battle dinosaurs, alien warriors, seemingly-indestructible androids, and a host of other bad guys that would leave ordinary men shaking in their boots. But not these heroes. In DBZ there is always a way to power up or an amazing new technique to master. This is a big part of the magic that makes the show so addictive.

Heroes and Villains! Simply put, Goku is the greatest hero the world has ever known. Forget about those other comic book chumps because they’ve got nothing on Goku and the Z-Fighters. No matter how bleak the outlook may be, Goku never gives up fighting for all that is good in the universe. Not even death can stop this legendary warrior from unlocking the secrets of his mysterious origins and attaining a level of power that strikes fear into the heart of the vilest villains. Speaking of those villains, nefarious ne’er-do-wells such as Vegeta and Piccolo give the show an extra kick and an edginess that resonates with fans of all ages. These cocky, smack-talking villains get increasingly more powerful as the show goes on, and sometimes, they even defeat the heroes — which is a nice change of pace from typical good versus evil plotlines. Furthermore, a particular villain’s story arc doesn’t always end with his — or her — defeat. Sometimes, losing is just the beginning of the adventure for a DBZ bad guy.

Endless Possibilities! There is no such thing as impossible in the DBZ universe. Death is not the end. Time travel is a reality instead of a science fiction fantasy. Pigs can talk AND shift their shapes. Dinosaurs walk the Earth. Heroes grow stronger by training in special rooms with increased gravity. Entire buildings can be carried around in your pocket thanks to the advance technology of the Capsule Corp. And as if that weren’t enough, any wish you could dream up can be granted by the awe-inspiring powers of the seven magic Dragon Balls.

Space Ninjas for the Win! This is what it all boils down to. Action aficionados of all backgrounds love ninjas. It’s a proven fact. They also love space. The unprecedented genius of Dragon Ball Z is the combination of space AND ninjas. We’ve got ninjas fighting on Earth, ninjas fighting in space, ninjas fighting in the future, ninjas fighting in the past, and ninjas fighting in otherworldly realms that may not even exist on this plane of consciousness. These ninjas fight anywhere, anytime, and against any foe. It’s nothing short of amazing.

To close this demented DBZ diatribe, I’d like to borrow the words of one particularly enthusiastic fan who said: “the show is about karate men that fly around in space and shoot out energy beams from their hands. No concept is better than this.” Well said, sir. I must concur. No concept could ever be better than this. — FUNimation copywriter Aaron Anderson

The Year of Naruto Uzumaki

October 7th, 2010 by Editor

To mark the birthday of Naruto, our partners at VIZ Media contributed a guest blog post for Hulu.

Naruto

It’s the year of tens: This Sunday, October 10, 2010, Naruto Uzumaki, the hero of the Naruto and Naruto Shuppuden anime series, celebrates his birthday. It’s a once in a lifetime event, and we’re glad to be a part of this impressive milestone.

We at VIZ have gathered a collection of episodes that we feel encompass what makes both Naruto series great. We’ve broken them down into the “10 Must-See” Naruto and Naruto Shippuden episodes. Over the past two years, we’ve been subtitling, streaming, and watching the DVDs. And as mega fans/scholars, we’ve seen every episode of both Naruto and Naruto Shippuden. Yes, all 400 episodes!

The series has transitioned from Naruto being a childish prankster to being the Sage Mode ninja he is today. We refer to the original series as “Naruto Classic.” It’s where it all started. It’s where we met the vast cornucopia of characters and immersed ourselves into a world where all stereotypes of ninja were broken. Our episode picks from this series range from crucial beautifully animated plot points like episode 30, where Sauske fights the infamous, yet-to-be revealed Orochimaru for the first time, to the heartbreaking story of Lady Tsunade’s past in episode 90.

Personally, we believe the characters and their relationships are a big part of what makes the story so amazing. As you journey through the story with Naruto, you really feel like you have a connection with the citizens of the Leaf Village. When a character succeeds, you’re happy for them, when a character you love does something wrong, you feel disappointed, and when someone dies, you really feel like you’ve lost someone close to you.

Since Naruto Shippuden takes place three years after the original Naruto series, the characters you grew to love in the classic episodes have all grown up. You are able to see how far the characters have come in the short three-year period between Naruto and Naruto Shippuden. One of the characters that goes through the biggest change is Sakura Haruno, the main love interest, who becomes an amazing Kunoichi. Sakura shows off the new skills she’s gained after an intense three years of medical jutsu training in episode 26, “Puppet Fight: 10 vs. 100!”

The storytelling in Naruto Shippuden matures along with the characters, allowing for deeper themes and a slightly darker tone. As the series progresses, they deal with serious issues such as hatred, war, and even the death of a loved one. A lot of effort goes into showing the viewers how the world effects each character individually. In our opinion, the best episodes aren’t the ones with fighting, but the ones like episode 82, “Team 10” where you get into the character’s head and are able to connect with them on a personal level.

However, even if you just love a good battle, Naruto Shippuden delivers. The battles are fast-paced, hardcore, and always keep you guessing. In the collection, we chose the episodes we thought had the best battle sequences. We think you’d agree that some of the top Shippuden battles have to be Naruto v. Orochimaru in episode 42, Jiraiya v. Pain in episode 133, and Naruto v. Pain in episode 167, just to name a few.

At the end of it all, we can only say that Naruto Shippuden is an amazing show and we give it a 10 out of 10, on 10/10/10.

Happy Birthday, Naruto!

Robert Ramirez & Tauri Miller
VIZ Media New Media Production

Last comment: about 19 hours ago 1 Comment

Exclusive Interview: The RZA

June 25th, 2010 by Rebecca Harper Editor

For today’s Hulu Days of Summer addition, we picked a series that features a butt-kicking samurai who’s hell-bent on revenge. Afro Samurai — and its sequel, Afro Samurai Resurrection — features the voice of Samuel L. Jackson as our hero and a soundtrack composed by none other than the Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA. To mark the premiere of the series on Hulu, we spoke to The RZA earlier this week. Find out what inspires this Grammy-winning artist these days — and what’s he’s listening to. — Rebecca Harper (), Editor

You’ve written and produced music for everything from Ghost Dog and Kill Bill to Blade: Trinity and Soul Plane. How was creating music for Afro Samurai different?
The RZA:
You know, this was right up my alley. Those other projects were less in my full control. There’s always some back and forth, but I had maybe 75 percent freedom working with Tarantino on Kill Bill. Here, I had 90 percent freedom. But you know, Tarantino and I, we had similar taste, so if I brought in 10 things, he brought five of the same things. But it was definitely tougher in trying to please him because he had his own vision for it, himself.

With Afro Samurai, they had a vision, but they also allowed the music to lead the vision. What I mean by that is, when I worked on Afro Samurai, we started with what is known as the animatics, and I would compose to the animatics, and then they would go on and do some of their drawing and action to the music.

We noticed that you’ve written a lot of soundtracks to projects that are based on a common theme — redemption through revenge. Is there a reason why you’re drawn to subjects like this?
Well, I grew up watching a lot of films with that same theme, whether it’s a Spaghetti Western or martial arts films. Those were my big creative enthusiasms. So it’s only natural that I would fall into that chamber. At the same time, I’m open to all kinds of films. You know, Barber Shop and Soul Plane were comedies. Right now, I’m working on something that’s like a love story/drama with my buddy Nemo, which is totally different, so I’m just doing like a Mozart reinterpretation. I think people know me for a certain thing, and those are the kind of people that reach out to me first. In the same vein, I often take those kinds of jobs, because they’re right up my alley. As a creative force, I like to spend time on other things and do other things. I don’t want to be pigeonholed or typecast as only a revenge-action composer. In fact, when we did Babylon A.D., which is sci-fi, I was kind of happy that was a different approach for me, too, because it wasn’t revenge. It was sci-fi, it was futuristic. It gave me a chance to kind of explore a different sound, as well.

Are you a fan of anime yourself? Do you watch much of it?
Yeah, I’m a big fan, actually. I love anime. To me, some of the best creativity is through anime, especially 10 to 12 years ago, before Hollywood was able to master the CGI, how they have it now. Anime was the only place you could really get these wild fight sequences or wild imagination going, only while watching those films. You watch animation like Ghost in the Shell, or go back even farther to ones like Akira or Ninja Scroll. That kind of action couldn’t be duplicated through live-action at the time. Even Transformers, the old animated movie, that was the only way you were going to get a movie about Transformers. But now that Hollywood has caught up to the creativity, we can finally get those live-action movies like [the most recent]Transformers and The Last Airbender coming out now, and all these other great movies like X-Men, Wolverine. Now I feel like I’m watching anime, but it’s a real live action.

You’ve been working on solo projects for a while now. Can we expect anything from the Wu-Tang in the future?
Wu Tang is always unpredictable, so you never know. We definitely have a tour this summer, where we’ll all be in the same place. Usually that leads on to something else, so we’ll see where it leads to this time.

Where do you find your inspiration?
I’m inspired through many things, whether it’s through life itself, through films, reading books, or just by taking a walk. Sometimes I get my best inspiration just through taking long walks. A lot of ideas pop into my head, and I just try to turn those ideas into reality.

Some of the tracks on the Afro Samurai soundtrack are credited to Bobby Digital, and some to The RZA. What determines which song gets which credit?
I think the context of my lyrics. I strive to make the RZA lyrics to be more intuitive, more inspirational for the listener as well as having messages of education and spirituality behind it. Whereas with Bobby Digital, it’s just a freefall for all. Just MCing and lyricism, just talking a lot of, you know, a lot of braggadocious shit, having fun.

What are you listening to these days?
Depending on the day you catch me, from listening to my buddy John Frusciante’s album The Empyrean — which has been my favorite album for the last year and change, actually. But I go back and forth, listening to new hip-hop from new artists, you know, from Kid Cudi to Drake and all. I listen to keep up to speed with what’s going on out there. But I also continue to listen to my classic music, the old ’60s and ’70s hits and things like that. Different days, different ways. My CD player’s always changing.

What are you working on now?
Right now, I’m mostly working on my film, The Man with the Iron Fist. That’s where most of my creativity is going to. On a music level, I have a joint sound right now with the GZA called Liquid Swords Part Two. That’s my music endeavor, but The Man with the Iron Fist is where I’m focusing most of my creativity.

What’s that you’re listening to in the background?
Oh, it’s this song “Hysteria,” I know you’ve heard of “Hysteria,” the old rock ‘n roll song [from Def Leppard]. We did a Nike commercial last week and they asked me to take a shot at remixing that song, so we’re taking a shot at it.

Really? Some of us have been enjoying an ’80s hair band revival here at Hulu.
OK, I kind of had that as well, about six months ago. I was hanging with my buddy Shavo [Odadjian] from System of a Down, and he’s always playing me like a lot of metal and rock that I’ve missed because I’m so much into hip-hop. He gave me an iPod with 30,000 songs on it. That was last year’s birthday gift. And I just started getting into it, more and more, month by month. So I know what you mean, by going back to the ’80s and feeling Ted Nugent and these guys, things that I think I skipped over. I’m a guitar player now, so I’m listening to these things to learn more about the guitar and, you know, to find out how to include it in my own music.

What do you think about music’s shift to digital formats, and music sharing sites?
I think it has a plus and negative, of course. I’ve been saying it for years, that it has a positive and negative. The negative is starting to overtake the positive now for me. In the beginning, you want the music to be heard and you want kids to enjoy music, because music is to be heard. We don’t make it for ourselves. But when it starts jeopardizing the careers and the financial income of the artists, to where some artists have to now spend less time doing music because they have to get jobs to pay their bills. Now the fans have actually destroyed their own idols. When you’re not supporting the music system or the music industry, you’re not supporting the artists. Now record deals that went from being — let’s say the average record deal could have been a $200,000 deal for a guy. That’s pretty substantial amount for a guy to live on and have a normal life and make music for six hours a day. But now record deals are down to $50,000 now, or you can’t even get a deal. So then the artists can’t spend six or seven hours making music — they’ve got to get a job or maybe get some gigs, things like that.

So the fans don’t realize that they destroyed the music industry by free downloads. What makes it ironic is that, to me, it’s not like the fans won’t spend the money. They’re going to buy iPhones and iPads, we’re spending $300 to $400 and then they’re getting free music for it. The music is only $10. We need to take a closer look at it and realize that we’re buying these gadgets, but these gadgets are useless without music. So instead of buying a regular $15 CD player or Walkman, you’re paying $200, $300 for an iPod, but you still don’t have any music. You’re making Apple grow bigger — and obviously we like Apple because we use Apple computers to make music — but we’re taking away from the musicians. We need to find a way to put money back into the pockets of the musicians so they can continue to make music and continue inspiring us.

Last comment: Apr 18th 2014 6 Comments

New in Anime: House of Five Leaves and The Tatami Galaxy

April 27th, 2010 by Betina Chan-Martin Product Manager

We wanted to announce two new exciting anime series coming to Hulu straight from Japan: House of Five Leaves and The Tatami Galaxy. We will be streaming them within 8 hours of their broadcasts in Japan. To give you an idea of what they are, we asked FUNimation writers Scott Porter and Aaron Anderson to introduce them. — Betina Chan-Martin, Guest Editor

House of Five Leaves is a different kind of samurai show. It looks different. It feels different. Sure, the series has a deadly swordsman — Masanosuke Akitsu — in the lead role, but he’s defined more by his quirks than his blade. He’s timid, he’s reluctant, and as the series begins, he’s falling in with a shady character: Yaichi, a member of the Five Leaves gang. They build an odd relationship — the contemplative, meek man of honor working for the dangerous rogue who earns a living one ransom at a time. Each man is more than he seems, and I’m really digging that this series can be described that way, too. — Scott Porter, FUNimation writer

The Tatami Galaxy — a new series from director Masaaki Yuasa (Cat Soup, Mind Game) — is generating a lot of buzz thanks to a theme song courtesy of Asian Kung-Fu Generation and animation by Madhouse. This surrealist take on the triumphs and misadventures of college life is a stunning visual experience that’s perfect for fans who dig their anime just a little outside the norm. The story is based on the novel Yojo-Han Shinwa Shinwa Taikei by Tomihiko Morimi, and the show airs as part of the highly-rated “noitaminA” midnight anime block on Fuji Television. Anything goes in The Tatami Galaxy, so kick back, dim the lights, and get lost in the artistry of series where any screenshot could hang on the wall in your favorite museum of modern art. — Aaron Anderson, FUNimation writer

Last comment: May 30th 2010 19 Comments

New in Anime: Kekkaishi

January 18th, 2010 by Rebecca Harper Editor

Today, Candice Uyloan from VIZ Media introduces an anime series that’s new to Hulu.

Ketsu! Metsu! Prepare for Kekkaishi! One of the most beloved recent anime series in Japan, Kekkaishi is now on Hulu. If you haven’t yet discovered the story of Yoshimori and Tokine — barrier masters extraordinaire — you’re in for a real treat.

By day, Yoshimori and Tokine are students. But at night, when the demons come out to play, they are kekkaishi, butt-kicking demon-hunters that specialize in creating barriers around their prey. That’s not to say that they don’t have loftier goals, of course. In fact, Yoshimori dreams of becoming a skilled pastry chef and baking a massive cake castle … one so big that he could live in it.

Even though Yoshimori and Tokine both fight demons to keep their neighborhood safe, they are also competing kekkaishi. Their families share a rocky history that has yet to be resolved: for years, they have quibbled over which lineage is the true master of the magical barrier arts. That doesn’t stop Yoshimori and Tokine from sharing a special bond, however. Together with their demon dogs, they are ready to face down supernatural baddies on Hulu … starting NOW!

Candice Uyloan
Marketing Ninja
VIZ Media