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Driver’s High

2 Jun

So I was at FanimeCon last weekend, if you follow me on Twitter, I kind of just tweeted about it for 2 weeks straight. Anyway, I drove up to San Jose from LA by myself, made the mistake of not putting some new CDs into my radio, and packed way too much shit. Finishing your cosplay in the hotel is not a good idea. So don’t do it. Also bring new music into your car if you realize you’ve outplayed all 10 CDs in your car.

Anyway, I wish I had gone to some of the panels (wig styling and some of the steampunk ones) but I was too busy oogling at cosplayers. I did cosplay the first day and after I uploaded pictures onto Facebook my friends complained about why there wasn’t a single photo of myself–for one, I was by myself so it was ridiculously hard to take photos of myself + other people. Secondly, I bought too much crap. Difficult to haul a sword, goodies and a DSLR. But I have learned, and that is what should be duly noted.

I did catch the Anime Music Video contest which is one of my favorite events at any anime convention and I was surprised at Phil Collins x Dragonball Z. “Junjou Rhapsody” had the entire audience rolling with laughter even though nobody really knew what was going on. (wish I could find the video :(!!! )

It was my first year at FanimeCon and I didn’t realize how much smaller than Anime Expo it was. Kind of a good thing because Anime Expo is a notch shy of Comic-Con’s clusterfuck.

I truly enjoyed wandering around Artists’ Alley and talking to some of the artists I bought art from. Most of them were pretty bored (they said so), so it was nice to chat about anime or games, or whatever their influences were in their artwork.

Yeup.... Artists' Alley

If my entire body was not as fucking sore as it was on Sunday I might have hung around in the Marathon Room and tried to catch up on “One Piece”–they were playing it 12 hours straight in that video room. I don’t know why my entire body was sore, I really did not do much on Saturday.

Also very considerate of them.

I met up all-too-briefly with superfamous cosplayer Vampy at the Crunchyroll booth, where she was interviewing cosplayers for their live stream. I have to say, watching the live stream while at the booth was hilarious, because Crunchyroll users were adding their comments simultaneously, and there were some really… creative… trolls.

I wish I had more to say but I was just so freaking tired both days, probably from driving, which was not a good idea. I had better book my hotel early as fuck next year because I was a bit lazy this year.

I am also not going to go by myself, I’m going to find someone to cosplay with me because cosplaying for one day and not cosplaying the next, I can see the big difference in how enjoyable a convention experience is.

And now I bombard you with cosplay photos. Enjoy. I will be doing a short write-up on E3 next week as I will be attending the IGN party! Woohoo! Going out to socialize! Yay…

This is obviously a Kuroshitsuji meet-up.

Mii. Mii. Mii.

Kiki missing Gigi...

There was a person inside!

Avatar, but not the last airbender 😦

What would have been REALLY FUNNY is if she was carrying around that chicken

Avatar, THE LAST AIRBENDER. Look at big Toph. Lol.

Is Magikarp using Splash? Can't tell.

Hipster Link

Sexy Misty.

Howl's Moving Castle

Harry Pottah

Some very, very creative costumes.

The silhouette.

It’s A Different Kind Of Marathon

26 May

I’m gonna go off a tangent here and break away from our usual stream (it’s more like a drizzle now I suppose) of posts regarding new/cool stuff and take some time to talk about cosplay culture. FanimeCon is this weekend and after all the fun times I experienced, and good friends I made last year at Anime Expo, I am pretty excited to delve into that welcoming atmosphere again.

My mom was surprised and shocked that I’m still going to anime/comic book conventions at my age. I’m not really that old but she, like most others, associates animation with children, which is completely false because the anime I watch should not be viewed by children. No, wait, that’s not what it sounds like. Ah… whatever.

I wrote in one of the first gspot blog posts that I “fell out” of anime near the end of high school/beginning of college, then was drawn back in via Death Note. I’m not going to reiterate what I wrote in that post [here] but I’m getting my point soon, about cosplay.

It’s only natural that we judge the calibur of someone’s costume. But do any of us really even know how to sew? Better yet, would we even have the guts to put on a funky wig, carry a huge-ass sword, fully-clothed like a fantastical character from a world we’ve yet to see in the flesh? “Cosplay fail” is a common term many of us like to throw around when we see a poorly-assembled (not aesthetically pleasing) cosplay, but after going to these conventions and just being in the good spirit of the entire community, having the “best” costume isn’t what cosplaying is about.

People cosplay for different reasons, mostly for fun, and to a degree, out of our respect and admiration for the creators of that anime, manga or game. Within the cosplay community, sure, there are “famous” cosplayers, mostly due to their skill levels being higher than most, but it’s not a popularity contest. I remember last year, an associate of mine, who was not familiar with otaku, anime or manga culture went to Anime Expo with my group. He said it was one of the most remarkable weekends in his life, there was so much positive energy and passion. I really thought about what he said, because I left the convention with some great friends I may not have been able to meet had I not cosplayed or had the guts to approach. Loserific is one I met last year and she’s one of the coolest and most genuine people I know.

My favorite cosplay from last year's Anime Expo--MONONOKE!!

It’s a difficult feeling to describe, being at an anime convention. On a regular basis I’m always wondering who I can geek out who doesn’t accuse me of being a “true otaku” just because I don’t watch Naruto. Fuck off, I don’t have a TV, and Sakura is too annoying. Sure, there are about 12938012938 Naruto cosplayers at every anime convention, but they’re introduced to a wealth of new and old anime once there, even for me, who will watch at least 3 episodes of a series to see if it has enough to capture my interest. Marathon anime or go home. If a series is not good enough for me to marathon, it clearly isn’t worth my time. I just have to point out that watching the 2nd Gurren Lagaan movie in a large room with GL cosplayers, and the host announcing, “Can all the Yoko’s keep their bazookas on the floor away from the aisles please?” was pretty awesome. Again, it’s hard to describe the feeling of unity at these conventions, so this is probably turning into a really lame post where I’m trying to reflect on all my convention experiences.

I was pretty excited to see these Trinity Blood cosplayers last year.

I guess what I’m just trying to say is, one shouldn’t be judged for going to conventions (yeah, so “otaku” generally has a somewhat negative connotation, re: Genshiken), nor should one be judged for a last-minute or store-bought cosplay. I commend anyone who has the guts to dress up as someone else during the daylight hours and to full on geek out with strangers. But then again, once we start to get to know each other, we’re no longer strangers.

So why do I pour in hours and hours to cosplay? I guess it’s just my way of showing my respect and admiration for the game, the anime or manga, and its creators. And let’s face it, I just have way too much time on my hands.

Within the exhibit hall, you'll probably be able to find everyone and everything, aside from body pillows.

And here’s a shameless plug for myself if you’re at FanimeCon this weekend, I’m running around in this fantastical slutty wizard outfit so come say herro!!!

Zephie from Magna Carta 2, which was kind of a "meh" game but had some nice graphics

Quite Possibly the Best Anime I Never Knew About Until Now

18 May

Somewhere between the time I stopped watching anime and was busy trying to stop being an otaku, I missed out on watching a great anime. A great anime that might be better than Death Note. Wait. It is better than Death Note. It does spoof Death Note here and there. Yes, I daresay it is better than Death Note even though every other episode borderlines on filler. But guess what, I don’t even skip the filler episodes because this anime is so great. The last time I laughed so hard for 20 minutes straight was in The Hangover. If you even ask me what it is about I don’t know how I’d sell the idea to you without being at a loss for words–it’s about 3 people who are part of a Yorozuya (Jack of all trades) and go around picking up jobs? That didn’t sell it to you, did it? One is a samurai with a natural perm of icy blue hair, one is a beastly strong Chinese-looking girl, one is a four-eyed (but not literally four-eyed) otaku samurai. Does that do it for you? Do you want to watch “Gintama” now? No? Then I don’t know how else to put it… except that you should just start to watch it anyways, because I have never watched an anime so funny and so full of heart at the same time. I can’t really even compare it to anything except maybe it’s the fact that this anime parodies everything and its characters are self-aware of the fact that they’re in an anime.

Our 3 main characters: Kagura, Gintoki and Shinpachi

The magic of Gintama is that it doesn’t fail to be entertaining, ever. One of its best episodes is one where the characters try to “improve” on their show in fear of being canceled and each character throws out its fantasies of what the show should continue on as. It has absolutely nothing to do with the loose storyline “Gintama” follows, but little do you realize that each of these episodes cleverly develops traits of each unique character. There’s another episode spoofing video games. There’s an episode with a random baby. An episode where the toilet paper has run out at an especially crucial time… an episode–if you can think of it, Gintama will most likely have it. Now that I reflect upon this series, I don’t know why I even mentioned a “storyline”, I’m not sure what these characters are headed towards but I’m enjoying the journey.

This was from one of my favorite episodes. Image via simon-p.com

A friend recommended this to me knowing I love shounen anime, but I balked at its 201 episode commitment. What follies. I started a mere month ago and I’m now on episode 91. Here I can still barely tell you what it’s about. There’s aliens. Robots. Sexy robots. Headless robots. Bazookas. Lots of food. Perverted jokes. There’s a ninja with hemorrhoids and a ninja with poor eyesight. I don’t know what else to say–just don’t blame me if watching Gintama becomes part of your daily routine.

Treasures and Trinkets from Taiwan

9 May

For lack of a more clever title, this post is exactly as it is–the useless-but-cool merchandise I picked up while in Taiwan the past week.  I had originally planned to go to both Japan and Taiwan during my vacation but with the earthquakes in Japan I had to change my itinerary to Taiwan only.

The week I was in Taiwan, I was fortunate to catch the Taipei Game Expo. It was not as it seemed. I thought I’d get to sample new video games for various consoles but it was actually an arcade game expo… which was still cool, but since 60% of the machines there were slot machines of various types I was a little disappointed with the idea I was so sold on. I took a few photos and videos only to realize, on the back of my industry badge that I wasn’t supposed to take pictures. OH WELL. ENJOY BELOW MWAHAHAHA (It’s not like anyone reads this blog anyway).

Besides the game expo (let me also mention it was right next door to the Vegetarian Food Expo, which was an excellent move because I got hungry after playing games and such, and Taiwanese people are very generous with their food. Needless to say I ate and drank to my liking), I also visited a ton of malls and shopping centers, picking up some random objects.

Clearly I took this photo very quickly.... BB (Super-Deformed) Gundams and Keroro Gunso Plamo Collection model kits

BB Gundam (super-deformed)

Just to show you how small this thing is

Left: BB Gundam, Right: Keroro Gunso Plamo Collection

Keroro Gunso Plamo Collection - Tamahorn

PACMAN X MOLESKINE 30TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL EDITION NOTEBOOK. FOOKYEAHHHH

Yeup

Artbooks - Gelatin, We Are, Cannabis Works

Nanoblocks, super tiny lego blocks

Nanoblocks

Outside of Toyland, load up your Pokemon and go at it with your friends. Like I'd be caught doing this... um.. yeah....

YEEEAHHHH

Vocaloid Miku Hatsune Project Diva Arcade Game

Vocaloid Miku Hatsune Project Diva Arcade Game

Vocaloid Miku Hatsune Project Diva Arcade Game

Yes, this entire corner dedicated to Miku.

Piano simulation (of sorts) game

Can I have one of these

Massive multi-player ultimate button-mashing game under the sea

Another dance simulation game... of sorts

Unfortunately a lot of these games I couldn't play for free...

Booth babes and guests

Between The Concrete And The Blue, Blue Sky

29 Apr

I just can’t really get myself to care about the royal wedding. I generally don’t even care much for weddings, let alone 2 people I don’t even know are getting married, so… my original plan for tonight was to watch Tekkon Kinkreet, as I just finished the graphic novel on Wednesday. Despite being a hefty 614 pages, Black and White was a fairly quick read, though a bit difficult to stomach all at once–er, broken down into 2 days. I tend to marathon my graphic novel reading…

Image via precur.files.wordpress.com

Image via precur.files.wordpress.com

I did very little research prior to picking up this novel. Half the time I pick up anything to read is from walking into the comic book store or my local independent bookstore (in this case, I went to Skylight on Vermont) and checking out the staff recommendations. Truth be told I can never find the graphic novels I want whenever I go to Barnes & Noble or Borders, and everyone knows I don’t read books, so why bother.

Tekkon Kinkreet is not a new title. I had seen a movie poster for the animated film a while back but forgot to put it into my personal/mental anime queue, and seeing this title at the bookstore with the staff recommendation note posted underneath, piqued my interest. There was only a short and vague summary about the story on the back cover, but it didn’t seem like the usual manga I read. There was a shiny Eisner award certification stamped on the front cover, and rarely are Eisner awards given to manga.

Scenes from the movie. Image via amazon.com

It was important for me to mention that I did zero research on this novel before diving into it. As I flipped onto the final page, I looked at the back insert, to see that this novel had been completed in 1994. The art style was in no way “dated-looking” (avid manga readers you know exactly what I’m talking about), the story transcending time and space–Treasure Town could have been anyplace, Black and White could have lived in anytime.

The story is based on a simple premise–two orphan boys running wild in a town they call their own, until one day the yakuza finally decide to step in to “take over” the town. Black and White–it’s never clarified whether or not they are brothers but they are of the same blood.

In the graphic novel, most of the emotions are conveyed through the stark contrast in the images and the little life occurrences our two protagonists must face. The “symbolism” is not as obvious as it is in the movie, which is a visual and cerebral delight. Though the movie was made in 2006, the animation is stunningly beautiful, even in spite of how raw the character design is. Each vignette is lush with archetypes and important details to be noticed during a second viewing. The music, composed all by Plaid, helps to set the audience in this make-believe, but completely real, world. It sets the pace of Black and White’s world; the soundtrack actually amplifies the emotions from the characters, who seem to only understand violence. Sure, there are a FEW holes in the movie but this is only because I read the manga just a day before.

"Hello, this is Agent White...." Image via pingmag.jp

The movie doesn’t try to match the novel word-for-word, frame-for-frame–but it still successfully pulls key scenes and enhances them. This is the true beauty of the movie–we can become truly immersed into Treasure Town–its beauty and its beast, our protagonist and antagonist.

I suppose everyone would draw different conclusions from their own readings and viewing of Tekkon Kinkreet. There are comparisons to the Lost Boys and Peter Pan, but Tekkon Kinkreet is a whole new vehicle that should be considered a great piece of literature, and the movie, a distinct accomplishment in anime films. (By the way I am glad this was not made into a live-action film.)


Yes, that is also music from AKFG!!

I apologize for not having anything particularly funny to say in this blog post, but it is almost 4am and I was pretty moved by the movie (or maybe it’s just that time of the month and I’m super emotional… er…). I watched the movie in Blu-Ray, so I highly suggest it. Other than that…Happy Friday, everyone!

Bloodsport(s)

25 Apr

Now that I’m fully recovered from Coachella and a spectacular Prince concert last week, I’m back into my schedule of eating dinner while watching anime (that’s what you do when you don’t have a roommate/social life). I would have written about this anime right after Coachella, but I don’t think I could legitimately “review” Deadman Wonderland without watching at least 2 episodes, so here we are, after 2 episodes. A friend recommended the manga to me a mere 3 wks ago, and I read through all 43 chapters in about 3 days, basically because I had nothing else to read at the time. (I have this tendency to marathon a series) While it’s not memorable by its own merit, it draws many similarities to “Elfen Lied”, “Darker Than Black” and “X-Men”, all of the associations which are helping me to remember this story.

Image via thefanboyseo.com

The first thing you’ll probably realize from the “Deadman Wonderland” anime is that almost all of the seiyuu’s (voice actors) from “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” moved on over to provide their talents to DW. Well, if you didn’t figure that out you need to get your shit together and watch FMA:Brotherhood, then we’ll talk. But seriously, the production quality of DW is brilliant (thanks to HD quality Youtube also), Kazuma Kondou‘s original manga illustrations translate beautifully into the animation, and I can’t wait to see the Carnival Corpse battles.

So as I’m watching the first episode while simultaneously trying to Facebook-chat with my friend, also watching the first episode, we both realize that the anime expands upon each character a TAD bit more than how the story unfolds in the manga, as though the mangaka knew that the story would be adapted into an anime… I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily a bad thing as I would have no reason to watch the anime if the plot followed the exact tangent of the manga, but based on the first 2 episodes it would seem that this series is slated for a 2-season run.

As you probably see, I am trying very hard to spoil as little as possible about this series. I will merely leave you with the below hints I mentioned above….

1a) Elfen Lied= evolved humans using parts of their body to destroy other humans = Deadman Wonderland has this.
1b) Elfen Lied= half-nekkid girl character who has the intelligence of a 3-year-old = Deadman Wonderland has this.
2) Darker Than Black= characters who use blood to destroy other humans = Deadman Wonderland has this.
3) X-Men= evolved humans with powers that may be used for good or evil and are shunned by the rest of society = Deadman Wonderland has this.

”](There, I have spoiled very little for you.)

While DW doesn’t introduce any ground-breaking plotlines or characters, the manga was a relatively fun ride. But instead of waiting patiently for a new episode to release every week I think I’m going to catch up on Beelzebub and wait until the DW season is over to write up my summary.

Makin’ Piranhas Look Like Guppies

12 Mar

…And zombies lookin’ like Cabbage Patch Dolls. What could I possibly be talking about?

The motherfucking “gyo”, created by popular horror mangaka Junji Ito–spawned from the sea, created by man itself, biological weapons gone horribly wrong. I’m not joking when I say these machines make zombies seem harmless.

Image via jfilmpowwow.blogspot.com

If you are familiar with Junji Ito’s work, most notably “Uzumaki” and “Tomie”, you know he’s a brilliant artist and storyteller–I’m going to throw in a cliche here and say his stories are that “train wreck you can’t look away from”. So I’m never going to be able to look at snails the same way ever again, thanks to Uzumaki, but I did finish the entire story, and finished “Tomie” in one sitting. The Ring’s Sadako stands no chance against the evil Tomie–the live-action movies do not do the manga justice, as Junji’s beautiful drawings send chills down my bones, as I shudder with the thought of what kind of drugs he was on to come up with some of these twisted and gruesome images. A recurring theme in Junji’s stories, despite the horrific images and mutilated beings, is love, not so much the Nicholas Sparks-type, however.

Tomie, the scariest motherfucking girl in fiction. Image via flying-teapot.blogspot.com

Tomie, the scariest motherfucking girl in fiction. Image via flying-teapot.blogspot.com

While “Uzumaki” and “Tomie ” saw live-action reinterpretations, “Gyo” will be produced by anime studio ufotable; the rumors at the moment from animenewsnetwork are that it will not be a full series, rather a 30-60 minute anime. I’m interested to see how this turns out, as a key pull into the story for me was the relationship between the male lead Tadashi and his girlfriend Kaori… not sure how 60 minutes is adequate for the audience to invest in our protagonist. I’ll admit though I am not too excited to see these vile creatures animated. My imagination is enough.

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