Urban Vision Goes Live
By Jon Minners
While anime was once rare in the United States, today, there is a multitude of anime released every week and month in stores all across the country. One company leading the charge has been Urban Vision with its release of such titles as Vampire Hunter D and its sequel Bloodlust, Golgo 13 and Ninja Scroll. Having achieved complete success in the anime industry, Urban Vision is now going into a completely different arena; live action Japanese cinema.
First, Urban Vision gained success in the anime industry and then they created Lil Vision with titles catering to a younger audience, but the best is yet to come and in the spring of 2006, Asian film will have a new look when Urban Vision Entertainment launches AsiaVision, a brand new line of Asian live-action movies that will be distributed theatrically and direct to video. And while fans have seen live action Japanese cinema before they never really know what to expect, getting anything from the very good to the extremely rotten. This time, with Urban Vision leading the charge, fans can expect nothing but the very best.
”Urban Vision Entertainment has been in the anime market for nearly 10 years, and in that time, we’ve made it a priority to choose and treat each release with extreme care. Thus, while our quantity of releases is smaller than other companies, we have turned out some of the industry’s most successful titles [through a strategic relationship with Mad House animation studios],” said Urban Vision executive vice president, Sandee Yamamoto. “Our founder Mata Yamamoto has always been a producer of more than just anime, and recent opportunities have compelled him to expand the company into live-action Asian film and launch AsiaVision. Just as with our anime side, we intend to apply the same discretion in selecting and presenting each title that falls under the AsiaVision label.”
The launch takes place with the limited theatrical run of the hit Japanese blockbuster Azumi, a movie based on the comics of Yu Koyama, which has sold more than eight million copies. The film follows a female assassin, trained from childhood among a group of youths with a single mission and that is to exterminate three rebel warlords and avert civil war. As unparalleled killers, the group’s first task is to kill each other and only the strongest will go on. Azumi will screen in major theaters throughout the U.S. The film has already grossed approximately $7.5 million and inspired a sequel, Azumi 2: Death or Love, which will also screen in the U.S. under the AsiaVision banner. A DVD release of Azumi is also expected in the second quarter of 2006.
But AsiaVision is not done with America just yet. The company is launching in a big way with a DVD release on March 1, 2006, of Curse, Death and Spirit, a collection of three short stories directed by Hideo Nakata, who expertly directed Ringu and the Ring 2. The stories were originally released on Japanese television and explore the supernatural abilities in familiar settings – the city, nature and even one’s home. This is the precursor to Nakata’s latest hits, which have made him a household name in Japanese horror.
In addition, Kill Devil will be released on DVD on April 4, 2006. Kill Devil is a slasher film centered on unwilling teens that are placed in an experiment involving a murder gene. Moreover, Kokkuri is another released slated for the near future and recounts the fixation of Japanese teenagers with kokkuri-san, a spirit who can be called upon to provide an answer to any question – no matter the consequence.
These tales are unique and intriguing; different from the kind of live action Asian cinema that is mainstreamed to American audiences. Take a look for yourselves. Titles are expected to hit stores everywhere in 2006. Keep those wallets ready.