0 Items | £0.00


Umanosuke Iida's final work, Towanoquon

Tuesday 13th November 2012

Jonathan Clements on the late director Umanosuke Iida

TowanoquonUmanosuke Iida (1961-2010), whose final work Towanoquon is now out in the UK, was born as plain Tsutomu Iida on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. It was his fellow animator Hirotsugu Kawasaki, the future director of Spriggan, who started calling him Umanosuke, in honour of his apparent resemblance to a character of the same name in the comic series 1, 2, Sanshiro. Somehow the name stuck, and appeared on most of his animation credits from Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind onwards.

The multitalented Iida was equally at home working with both pictures and words. He penned the straight-to-video remakes of Go Nagai’s Devilman and created the storyline for Mighty Space Miners. In a joke that got a little out of hand, he credited himself on the latter work by literally transposing the kanji of his name into English, as Horceman Lunchfield (Uma-no-suke Ii-da). This gag backfired in the English-speaking world, Mighty Space Minerswhere several reviewers assumed that Lunchfield was an obscure, eccentric American sci-fi author, and nobody dared admit they had never heard of him.

“The anime’s based on the books by Lunchfield,” one pundit off-handedly told me, as if we were both supposed to know who Lunchfield was – you know, that guy who was a guest at Somethingcon with Asimov and Heinlein. This meme persisted for a decade in foreign fandom before the Anime Encyclopedia outed Iida as the inadvertent culprit.

In 1996, he took over the directing duties on Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team, after the original director Takeyuki Kanda was killed in a car crash. In the 21st century, Iida’s best known role was arguably as the chief director on the fan-favourite Hellsing (2001), based on the manga by Kouta Hirano. A distaff sequel of sorts to Dracula, it featured a modern-day secret society that protects the British Isles from any paranormal, Umanosuke Iidasupernatural or undead threats, and often does so through the volatile means of its own house vampire. He also directed the post-apocalyptic drowned-world series Tideline Blue (2005), based on an idea by Satoru Ozawa, the creator of Blue Submarine No. 6.

In later years, Iida’s work became less directorial than artistic, as he moved back into storyboards. These shot-by-shot comic-style walk-throughs of a film’s scenes are a powerful factor in any anime’s success, and Iida’s handiwork can be seen in shows as diverse as Cowboy Bebop, Shangri La and Birdy the Mighty: Decode.

His website offered information about his career, and at the time of his death, had threatened for two years to also upload details about his hobbies. However, it remained unfinished, as did his final work, the supernatural conspiracy series Towanoquon. His staff, however, put the final touches to it in his honour, and it was mercifully able to reach the finish line, released in several parts to Japanese cinemas in 2011.

Towanoquon is now out on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment.

Buy it now

Umanosuke Iida's final work, Towanoquon


Towanoquon Complete Series Collection

was £24.99
In the not-too-distant future, children are being born with special powers, marvelous and remarkable abilities. But what would seem like a wondrous gift turns out to be a dangerous curse. For the world is now run by The Order, and these miraculous deviants are hunted down-and killed. But Quon and his group of Attractors are out to rescue these children before The Order's elite squad of ruthless cyborgs detect them. From their hideout beneath a popular amusement park, the Attractors use high tech gadgetry and their own remarkable abilities to save these children, and teach them to harness and control their powers to overthrow the very powers that seek to destroy them. With spectacular animation, stunning fight sequences, and richly detailed characters, Towanoquon is destined to be an anime classic and must-have for any animation fan's library.



The end of Ghost in the Shell: Solid State Society?

Andrew Osmond asks if it really is the end for Ghost in the Shell
Solid State Society is, as of writing, the last anime instalment of Ghost in the Shell. Will there be any more? Interviewed in 2007, Mitsuhisa Ishikawa, co-founder of Production IG, suggested the franchise could be refreshed by a switch to live-action, with Kusanagi, Batou, Togusa and the rest of Section 9 interpreted by real actors. If it was a success, the franchise could return to anime later.

Ghost in the Shell: Innocence

Jasper Sharp on Oshii's Innocence abroad
Mamoru Oshii’s unashamedly esoteric sequel to his earlier global crossover Ghost in the Shell lent the most credibility to claims for anime as ‘Art’ with a capital ‘A’, when it became the first animated film from Japan to be entered in competition at Cannes.

Mondo Does Ghost in the Shell

Strange things afoot at SDCC booth #835
On sale now at the San Diego Comic Con in a limited edition of only 325 prints, Kilian Eng's beautiful Ghost in the Shell poster for Mondo. It's a thing of beauty made specially to commemorate the 25th anniversary.

Ghost in the Shell: Live-action?

Will it be Robbie the robot...?
Hollywood blog Deadline reports that DreamWorks is in "early talks" with actress Margot Robbie to play the leading role in a live-action version of Ghost in the Shell.

The Impact of Ghost in the Shell

Andrew Osmond remembers the early reactions to Oshii’s classic
“What makes this such a cut above the rest is a set of senses-assaulting production values that equals anything Hollywood produces… Just make sure you see it on a big screen.” - Empire.

Ghost in the Shell: Arise

The latest incarnation of Masamune Shirow's classic
A new addition to the Ghost in the Shell franchise is here, but it’s maybe not the one everyone was expecting.


Bleach music: Fumika

Tom Smith on Bleach’s most powerful voice
What does the anime series Bleach, Grammy Award winner Alicia Keys and grainy mobile phone videos all have in common? For 25-year-old singer Fumika Mitsui, they mark the point where her wildest dreams came true.

Sword Art Online Music: LiSa

Tom Smith on Sword Art Online's LiSa
Salarymen to the left of me, shoppers to the right. And here I am, stuck in the middle with otaku. Well, more accurately I’m frolicking with them, in Hibiya Open-Air Concert Hall, a concrete amphitheatre that’s dwarfed by the towering skyscrapers of Tokyo’s business district to the west, and high-end retail haven Ginza to the east. Between the two is the venue, hidden in the peaceful Hibiya Park. Peaceful, that is, until 3,000 anime fans descend en masse, clutching chunky glow batons, wearing identical shirts and all waiting for the latest lady-singer that tickles the tastes of otaku to hit the stage; LiSA.

Jimmy Murakami 1933-2014

Andrew Osmond remembers the man who did it all
By way of an obituary, we re-run Andrew Osmond's interview with the late Jimmy Murakami, originally published in March 2012.

Japan Cupnoodles Museum

Daniel Robson sucks it up
That might explain why in 2006, Nissin sponsored the anime series Freedom, designed by Akira and Steamboy godfather Katsuhiro Otomo and directed by Shuhei Morita. Set on the Moon and exploring themes of blossoming adulthood in a post-Earth society, the characters in the seven-part series are often seen chowing down on a steaming hot Cup Noodle.

Samurai Westerns

Andrew Osmond investigates the long love affair between samurai and cowboys
28th February sees the classic Hollywood Western go East. Yuresarazaru Mono has the English title Unforgiven; it remakes the celebrated 1992 Western of that name, which was directed by its star Clint Eastwood and won the Best Picture Oscar.
Toei Animation has announced production on Dragon Ball Super, the first all-new Dragon Ball series to be released in 18 years. Following the recent events of the hit feature film Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection, Dragon Ball Super will debut in July 2015 in Japan.

Anime's answer to James Bond

Helen McCarthy is holding out for a hero
I got quite excited when I found the clip online. "James Bond, aka Bondo (agent 007), the suave superspy who…" Alas, my delight was premature. It was a fan animation starring a green-eyed, spiky-haired pretty boy who looked as likely to bed the villain as shoot him - a quantum of solace, undoubtedly, but no help on my mission: find anime's answer to Bond.

Ninja Scroll

Andrew Osmond on one of anime’s holy trinity
Ninja Scroll is crammed with memorable images, set-pieces and characters. Like many of the best international anime hits, the contents of Ninja Scroll are foreign yet familiar. Instead of the future megacities of Akira, we’re deep in the Japanese countryside. We’re weaving through fog and fireflies, springing through treetops, sneaking down rivers, hanging halfway down stone cliffs.
From its epic 366 episode run, which Bleach story arc was your favourite? Cast your vote now.

Garm Wars: The Last Druid

Mamoru Oshii's latest film, fresh from its Tokyo premiere
In his live introduction to the premiere of Garm Wars The Last Druid at the Tokyo International Film Festival, Mamoru Oshii called his film a "a precise recreation of the delusions in my mind." While the truth of that statement is only known to Oshii, Garm Wars is certainly embedded in Oshii-land, ticking off the staple themes and existential worries in his work, while finding a new kind of gorgeousness.
Contact Us   |   Refund Policy   |   Delivery Times   |   Privacy statement   |   Terms & Conditions
Please note your card statement will show billing by MVM. Umanosuke Iida's final work, Towanoquon from the UK's best Anime Blog.