animefringe june 2003 / briefing room
Samurai Deeper Gets Boxed

According to Anime on DVD, Media Blaster has announced that the box for DVD set of Samurai Deeper Kyo will be made of wood. An image of the box, which will be sold with the first DVD, can be accessed here.

AnimEigo Dishes Out More Back-Catalogue

In a move that surprised even themselves, fan-favorite AnimEigo has released a number of their DVD products ahead of schedule. Among these are the first Lone Wolf and Club film, The Sword of Vengance and Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo , which features both Zatoichi and Toshiro Mifune, reprising his role as the Yojimbo.

The Lejiverse's Four Fives

According to Natsume Goushin Ryu Dojo, Leiji Matsumoto (of Galaxy Express 999 fame) had a new film shown at the Cannes Film Festival. The film, Interstella5555 - The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem is a feature length adaptation of the music videos Matusmoto did for the French techno grouo’s Discovery album.

Street Fighter Turns 15

Gaming news site The Magic Box reports that, according to Dorimaga magazine, Capcom is in the planning stages of creating a new Street Fighter II title in celebration of the title’s 15th anniversary. The title will be using Street Fighter II’s realistic style and will be set between the stories of Street Fighter II and Street Fighter III.

Microsoft Tries on an RPG

Gameforms reports that Microsoft has confirmed that True Fantasy Online, a MMORPG featuring voice chat, will see an American release. As the title suggests, True Fantasy Online is a conscious attempt to move away from the futuristic settings and technology of recent RPGs (Final Fantasy, anyone?).

SEGA Mergers a Bust

In a surprising development, as reported by the BBC, SEGA’s merger talks with both Sammy and Namco have fallen apart, within hours of each other. Sammy, known in the U.S. for it’s Guilty Gear X series, is known in Japan as a major manufacturer of pachinko (Japanese pinball) machines. The company was hoping to get a foot hold the video game industry using the monetary war chest it has gained from pachinko. Talks had been going on between the companies for months.

A few hours after rejecting Sammy’s offer, SEGA also turned down a merger offer from Namco. The company was seen by many pundits as a natural partner for SEGA. A statement from Namco says that SEGA told Namco that it “was not in a situation to give a specific answer to the proposal."

SEGA’s fortunes have been in a downward spiral since the dismal failure of the company’s last console, the Dreamcast. Since then, SEGA has been developing software for Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo. The company’s next move remains unclear.

Sony Announces Handheld

According to Gameforms Sony used E3 to announce the introduction of a new handheld gaming system. Dubbed the PSP, the machine will utilize a new format for games. The Universal Media Discs (UMD) are optical discs with 1.8 gigabyte storage. The discs, developed by Sony, will be encased in a cartridge like packing, making them harder to accidentely scratch. The machine also boasts a 480 x 272 pixel backlit screen, USB 2.0 comptability (allowing it to access high speed devices) and the ability to read Sony Memory sticks. Like the Gameboy Advance SP the machine will also have a recharchable battery. However, processer speed was not mentioned in Sony's press release.

Gameforms speculates that for the machine to render NURBs on the fly (a technology used by digital animation) the machine will have to be much more powerful than the original Playstation. Sony is hoping to release developer kits this summer and have the machines on the shelf by the Winter of 2004.

New Sonic Games on the Horizon

SEGA has released screenshots of the upcoming Sonic Heroes title. The game, which will be ported to all three major consoles (a fact Sonic creator Yuji Naka is not pleased with) will feature Sonic, Knuckles, and Tails. In a new twist, all three characters will be controllable at once via the two control sticks. The game is set to be released in the U.S. sometime this year.

Nintendo Dishes Out Sequels

Nintendo has announced a number of major new Gameboy Advance title for this year, including Super Mario Advance 4 (an updated version of Super Mario Bros. 3 featuring new enemies, updated graphics, and new power ups), Donkey Kong Country, Pokemon Pinball Sapphari and Ruby, a new Mario RPG title dubbed Mario and Luigi (which features an isometric camera angle, both brothers on screen at the same time, and Super Mario World style graphics and enemies), and Fire Emblem. Nintendo has also released information on Metroid: Mission Zero, a GBA game highly reminscent of the Super Nintendo's Super Metroid. It is unclear if the title is a port of the Super Nintendo game, a remake of the original Metroid (as shots of the landscape and of Kraid suggest), or a new title.

For the Gamecube, Nintendo will be bringing Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, Kirby Air Ride, Pokemon Colessem (the sequel to the Nintendo 64 Pokemon Stadium series), Mario Party 5, Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour, and a new first person shooter from n-Space, Geist. Brief footage of Metroid Prime 2 was shown. It featured Samus attempting to kill a ghost like space pirate, who telports close enough to the bounty hunter to pick her up by the neck. No playable version of the game was avaliable at E3.

According to Gameforms two Legend of Zelda titles appear to milk the GBA/Gamecube connection for all its worth. One title, an expanded version of Four Swords will allow four players to play via their GBAs on the TV screen (no GBA cartidge is required) in an extended Four Swords adventure. The GBA screen will be used when one of the player enters a house or falls in a hole. Tetra's Trackers will have four players racing to gather stamps from the pirates in The Wind Waker.

Miyamoto Does Pac-Man

At E3, Shigeru Miyamoto himself announced a new Pac-Man title for the Gamecube. As reported by Gameforms, the game, which boasts GBA-GC connectivity, will allow one player to play Pac-man, while the other three play his nemesis ghosts. Each ghost's field of view is limited, so the three players have to work together to get Pac-Man.

Ghibli - The Trusted Brand

According to the Anime News Network, Studio Ghibli was voted the fourth most trusted brand name in Japan. Above it were only Sony, Disney, and Fuji TV. Studio Ghibli was the only Anime studio on the list.

Wario Connectivity

According to Planet Gamecube, the GBA title Wario Ware, Inc: Mega Microgame$ will link up with the Gamecube Wario World title, allowing the player to load Wario Ware's instant games onto the Gameboy Advance.

JoJo Finally Comes to DVD

TRSI has announced all the release dates for JoJo's Bizarre Adventure; volume one will be out June 10, volume two on August 10, and the final volumes on 15th of December, February, and April.

NewType Hits Its Stride

For the week ending May 17, Newtype USA was the 8th bestselling magazine at the national mall bookstore, Waldenbooks. The relatively young magazine outsold popular mainstream periodicals such as Time, People, and Newsweek.

Also, for the first time in five years, Sega has posted a profit. This is good news for the game company - especially in such competitive times.

SPJA Fights Back

The SPJA, the organizing body behind Anime Expo, has responded to accusations of massive corruption by former SPJA President Mike Tatsugawa. For those of you who haven’t been following the SPJA debacle, Tatsugawa claims that the SPJA has been hoarding money from Anime Expo, has run lost accountability within the larger SPJA group, lacks checks and balances, and has been inviting anime companies onto the SPJA board, thus creating a conflict of interest. A more detailed summary is available at the Anime News Network.

The SPJA has responded by creating a public tax audit for Anime Expo and by asking Tatsugawa to stop his allegations. The SPJA has promised no legal action against him, if Tatsugawa ceases. Finally, the SPJA has created a Myths and Facts Page, where it explains that the SPJA does not give its board salaries (but does offer incidental expenses) and that it does not have ties to any anime companies, though there are company board seats.