Archive | Manga RSS feed for this section

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

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!

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.

Wow. CLAMP finished another manga series?!

13 Jan

Don’t get me wrong. I love CLAMP. They are the sole reason I got into manga as a typical Asian child. But CLAMP, as you know, are notorious for leaving their readers hanging with their unfinished manga series (ahem, X/1999Clover..wish…)

So when I heard that xxxHolic was coming to an end in February, you can bet your bottom I almost fell out of my swivel chair. xxxHolic is one of my favorite CLAMP series, and I loved the anime interpretation. I didn’t watch season 2 so don’t spoil anything for me. I liked how series 1 ended. I gotta admit, some scenes were downright SPOOKY in xxxHolic. I’m getting chills now as I recollect my thoughts. xxxHolic had two of the most compelling and mysterious characters in the history of CLAMP–Yuuko and Watanuki. You never really learn ANY USEFUL BACKGROUND INFO about either character, but you’re horribly invested in the both of them anyway. Yuuko is also the only reason I can say, with a straight face, “But the bunny is the witch’s drinking partner.” I could never come up with something as quirky as that on my own, you know.

I’m excited to see how CLAMP wraps up their 17th volume of xxxHolic in February–but I won’t have my expectations bursting to the roof. My fingers are crossed they didn’t just cop out and end the series like they did with Cardcaptor Sakura (uh… predictable, much?)

Just how much do I love xxxHolic? Enough to buy these absolutely useless, but adorable chess pieces.

Talkin’ Monsters During Family Dinners

25 Oct

My sister and I don’t have much in common. Her entire wardrobe consists of American Eagle and Urban Outfitters, my wardrobe is black, black, and more black (not Hot Topic-style, more Alexander Wang/Ann Demeulemeester-style). She can spend hours watching Scottish Fold videos on Youtube, I can spend hours watching dance videos on Youtube. She has waist-length black hair, I have short, blonde hair.

Most people don’t even recognize us as siblings. She’s friendly and reserved, I sometimes come off as that unapproachable bitch with the potty mouth at the bar. But despite our obvious differences, there is one thing we can see eye-to-eye on, and it’s not the universal subject of females–no, we don’t bond over Robert Pattinson or Joseph Gordon-Levitt. We awaken our sisterly bonds through anime.

It was my dad’s birthday celebration last night, and we went through the normal ritual–go to dinner at the Chinese restaurant we grew up with, go home and eat a cake from Micasa. I don’t really get along with my mom, my dad and I talk about sci-fi movies and superheroes all day (drives my mom crazy), my grandpa’s half-deaf (he’s 92) and my sister is still in college, working part-time at a local boba shop. We endured the entire 7-minute car ride to the restaurant listening to my mom yell at my dad for talking on his cell phone sans earpiece. It’s no secret to me that my sister watches Detective Conan too. She’s not into the violent / horror / sometimes-pervy anime I usually watch (did I ever say that I was a role model????) but she said something that surprised me during dinner.

Me: I’ve been watching Darker Than Black lately, have you seen that?
Sister: No, what’s that about?
Me: It’s a sci-fi series but it’s kind of violent so I’m not sure if you’ll want to watch it.
Sister: …The first episode of Blood+ was so bloody, I didn’t know what was going on, but it’s actually a really good series.
Me: Is it anything like Blood The Last Vampire?
Sister: I haven’t seen it but there are some references throughout.
Me: Hm. Well the movie has a lot of blood.
Sister: How bad is Darker Than Black?
Me: Well it’s not that violent but there’s one guy who uses his blood to kill people. Basically, whatever his blood touches, he just snaps his fingers and it explodes. This dude got destroyed by it.
Sister: Oh. That’s not so bad. In the beginning of Blood+ the girl slices everyone. I was confused. But I kept watching.
Me: Hmmm if there aren’t that many episodes I’ll check it out I’ve heard good things about it.
Sister: You should watch High School of the Dead, too, it’s pretty good.

STOP RIGHT THERE. HOW is it that my sister beat me in finishing HSotD? (Her: It’s only 12 episodes, you should watch it. But it ended really weird…) This obviously erupted into a conversation about zombies during our family dinner–then vampires. Then immediately after the cake was consumed, my sister showed me a clip from Blood+. We could have gone all night but I had to rush off and play Goldeneye on the N64 (I got my ass handed to me on a glittering platter, by the way).

Vampires and zombies. Yes–the topics of 20-some Asian girls during family dinners. Vampires, witches, demons, knights and dinosaurs–more monsters we’ve yet to cover in one of our conversations to come, but all of which are in the new Darkstalkers manga that was released October 18.

It’s obvious that when anyone thinks “Darkstalkers” we all think “Morrigan“. How can we not? I honestly have no recollection of Darkstalkers except for that succubus relation, from those times at Skate Depot playing Marvel v. Capcom.

ZOMG. MARVEL V. CAPCOM 3 MORRIGAN VS. IRON MAN. Notice the clever caption in the top  right corner. Image via gamerant.com

I’m interested to see how the story is developed in this manga, as we know that oftentimes, too many monsters becomes too ridiculous (and believe me, I usually embrace ridiculous)–for some reason, Twilight came to mind. I haven’t even seen the movies but I don’t care about emo vampires or teenage werewolves. I’m on a completely different team from Jacob and Edward.

Below is an excerpt from the official press release from Udon Entertainment regarding the Darkstalkers/Red Earth manga:

“Written and drawn by Itou Mami(ROBOT, Pilgrim Jäger) Maleficarum is video game manga at its best. This standalone volume includes five short stories from across the monstrous Darkstalkers universe, as well as a four-chapter tale featuring the swords & sorcery world of Red Earth. You’ll see succubus Morrigan fight the wolfman Talbain, the devilish Jedah confront vampire lord Demitri, the heroic lion-man Leo questing to cure his cursed body, and several more fantastic tales. Also included are gag strips and artist commentary.”

Maleficarum / Darkstalkers/Red Earth manga. Image via udonentertainment.com

One volume? Anyone of us can finish that in a weekend or less. I know absolutely nothing about Red Earth, so I’m ready to get schooled (in the name of research, duh). And gag strips / artist commentary? Yes, please! Monsters are something Megawoman and I might never tire of rambling about, but now that I’ve discovered a new buddy to chat monsters with, I think I can proudly add my sister to my zombie-vampire-survival team.

Menace’s Top Five Fictional Character Crushes

9 Sep
Li Syaoran - Card Captor Sakura / Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle

One of the good boys out there, Li Syaoran (image via fanpop.com)

5. Li Syaoran – Card Captor Sakura / Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle (by CLAMP) TV Anime

Even though Li hails from Hong Kong, there is probably nothing remotely Chinese about him except his name and his battle attire, which actually seems to integrate some Arabian influence now that I recall it. He was insanely loyal to the sometimes-annoying Sakura, extremely protective, and shy. (But sometimes his loyalty to her is sickening. Maybe I’m just jealous. Whatever.) He also kicked some mischievous Clow Card ass as an elementary school student. Besides the fact I wish his character was slightly more interesting, it’s difficult not to fall for this adorable boy who just wanted to protect his one and only love!

Tuxedo Mask - Sailor Moon

I like masks... (image via propsops.com)

4. Tuxedo Mask – Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon (1992-1993, by Naoko Takeuchi) TV Anime

I don’t know anybody who did not have a crush on Tuxedo Mask when I was in elementary school. He made all of us clumsy, awkward teen girls (like Usagi-chan) feel as though there was hope for us hopeless. Although I don’t think I was as ditsy as Usagi-chan, I was pretty  jealous at the time that he was her soulmate. He was gentler than Batman, far older than Li Syaoran, and humble–the last characteristic generally a rarity among dark-haired anime men.

Roy Mustang - Fullmetal Alchemist

Roy Mustang, keepin' it HOTTTT (image via bonnema-boyd.com)

3. Roy Mustang – Fullmetal Alchemist (2001-2010, by Hiromu Arakawa) Manga/TV Anime

It took me a while to warm up to the ambitious, seemingly “womanizing” (we all know he really wasn’t but he made it seem like it!) Colonel that always gave Edward a hard time, but after seeing his true colors when the homunculus appeared, the Flame Alchemist became one of the characters I was deeply invested in as I read the manga. Extremely heroic and surprisingly thoughtful, Roy’s character arc is one of my favorites in the story, and I found myself rooting for him until the end.

Shinichi Kudo - Detective Conan

Oh so dreamy... (image via friendster.com)

2. Shinichi Kudo – Detective Conan (Case Closed-1994+, by Gosho Aoyama) TV Anime

Detective Conan was an anime I grew up watching with my family, and I still catch a few episodes here and there. I’m actually caught up on all the movies! I have quite an obsession with mystery stories and generally anything involving detectives, so Detective Conan is one of my absolute favorites. Before you call me out on being a pedophile for crushing on this detective, I specifically mean Shinichi, not Conan. Just saying. It’s kind of hard not to like a high school detective who might actually be mentally more adept than Sherlock Holmes, who is also a star soccer player on his high school team–do people in real life even exist like Shinichi?

Terry McGinnis - Batman Beyond

Brooding (kind of) and somewhat mysterious, but mostly just your everyday butt-kicking teenager who wears a leotard with a vibrant red chest design (image via comicvine.com)

1. Terry McGinnis – Batman Beyond (1999-2001, character created by Bruce Timm & Paul Dini) TV/graphic novel

Terry McGinnis was my number one crush as a girl. (I would like to think I’m somewhat of a woman now) I won’t even hide the fact that he’s still my favorite fictional male character of all time. He is the most flawed out of all my picks, but I was always kept on my toes when I wondered how he would continue to balance his personal life with his Batman duties. I buried my face in my hands when he failed, I felt tears swell up in my eyes as he left Mr. Freeze to fate (yes I still remember that moment–one of my favorites ever in animated history), and I winced every time Inque would overpower him. He didn’t have super powers and didn’t fight strange creatures (well, Shinichi didn’t either) but he had enough emotional and past craziness in his life for me to admire him every time he overcame one of his challenges, even if it was just coming up with a new excuse to give poor Dana.

%d bloggers like this: