Marvel Anime Preview

Posted by Grey Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Rejoice yet, Marvel Zombies. Forty-eight episodes of original animation featuring unique anime take on your favorite Marvel superheroes, guided by acclaimed writer Warren Ellis, are coming your way.

First announced during San Diego Comic-Con 2009, Jeph Loeb, the newly appointed Executive Vice President and Head of Television at Marvel, made the official announcement of the animation series at this year Comic-Con: All four original series - "Iron Man," "X-Men," "Wolverine" and "Blade" - will premiere on the G4 television network in 2011 and will subsequently air as standalone series made up of twelve 30-minute episodes.

Produced by Madhouse for Marvel Entertainment and Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan (SPEJ), the four original series, collectively known as "Marvel Anime" under the creative guidance of Warren Ellis, seek to reimagine the Marvel superheroes for the Japanese and Asian audiences.

Being the skeptical undead that you are, you must be wondering to what extent does Ellis's purported "creative guidance" role held up? Well, wonder no more, here's the official word from the master:

The way it worked is that I devised four serials for Marvel Anime – IRON MAN, WOLVERINE, X-MEN and BLADE. Which means that I came up with 12-episode stories for each property. For the most part, I used pre-existing stories as adaptation material — the WOLVERINE story, for instance, takes the Chris Claremont/Frank Miller WOLVERINE miniseries from the early 80s as its basic spine. Weirdly, Matt Fraction and I were working parallel at one point, and it turns out that, without talking to each other about it, I’ve sort of mirrored “Stark Resilient” in the IRON MAN anime.

I then wrote outlines for each episode of each serial. These outlines were then turned into scripts by Madhouse’s writers, and then made into animation by Madhouse’s directors and animators. Because I knew the process in advance, the outlines were really just plot, pacing and colour. I imagine and expect that I’ve been seriously rewritten in places by the actual writers, which is fine and all part of the process.

As I say, these were commissioned and created specifically for the south east Asian market. But it’s nice that they’ll get some form of English-language airing too.

Check out the official trailers for Iron Man and Wolverine below, complete with the official plot synopsis for X-Men and Blade as well.

Iron Man (アイアンマン Aian Man)

In an effort to make amends for his weapons manufacturing past, Tony Stark has dedicated himself to building the world up rather than tearing it down. Traveling to Japan to build a new arc reactor that will deliver unlimited free energy to the Japanese people, Stark is challenged by the Japanese government and the media when he attempts to import the necessary nuclear priming device. And when the reactor-in-construction is repeatedly attacked by the mysterious Zodiac consortium, Stark must gather his allies to take on Zodiac and its mastermind.

Well, at least we are not getting a Japanese "Tonisu Starku-san". That said, the anime already seemed to be much cooler than Nicktoons Network's 3D CGI rendition, Iron Man: Armored Adventures.

The X-MEN are reunited following the death of a teammate, and are summoned by Charles Xavier to Japan following the abduction of Hisako Ichiki (Armor). There, they confront the U-MEN, a lunatic cult that steals and transplants mutant organs to further strengthen their own army, and the battle for justice is on.

Cool. The much-forgotten U-Men created by Grant Morrison during his celebrated run on New X-Men are finally remembered. Kudos to Ellis.

Based on the popular graphic novel by Frank Miller, the series begins in Japan, where Logan is challenged by Shingen Yashida, the notorious leader of a powerful mafia clan. When Shingen's employee Yukio, a female assassin, falls out of Shingen's favor, she must kill him or be killed. Teaming up with Logan, the pair seek out the villain to exact their revenge.

As you can see, despite Logan's emo makeover, he's still pretty the much the best at what he does. And what he does is badass. Given Wolverine's popularity, I would not be surprised to find him doing double duty showing up in the X-Men anime.

Eric Brooks -- known as Blade -- seeks revenge on Deacon Frost, the vampire lord who killed his mother while she was still pregnant with Eric. With all the powers of a vampire and none of their weaknesses, Blade's quest leads him throughout Southeast Asia in search of Frost, and, in Viet Nam, he discovers a vampire plot that threatens to take down the whole world.

This is one that doesn't interest me. Blade's story are usually one-dimensional, given his monotonous personality and the equally bleak world he resides (a bleaker Marvel Universe).

Of all four series, Iron Man will debut first, airing on Animax in Japan on October 1st, 2010, and in the United States on G4, sometime in 2011.


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