Gundam Creator Tomino @ NYAF

Mobile Suit Gundam celebrated its 30th anniversary this year, and creator Yoshiyuki Tomino (富野 由悠季) was the guest of honor at New York Anime Festival.  Anime Diet recorded his keynote address.

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(Edit, 9-30, 10:13 AM: the progress bar and time are now working. Plus, the video is watermarked, for the convenience of all the video thieves out there.)

Tomino was very dignified throughout his appearance at the convention.  In keeping with his professional demeanor, he made a great effort to be polite.  Even when asked directly, he refused to say anything bad about his experiences working with Osamu Tezuka, creator of Astro Boy (鉄腕アトム). It has been widely observed that in the early days, Tezuka’s budget was tight and his deadlines were brutal, which many have speculated may have led to a hostile working environment.  During the Q&A session following his speech, Tomino suggested that anime creation in general creates friction, noting, “If working together with others was easy, I would have produced thirty more works like Gundam.”

Tomino signing a sketch of the R78 Gundam. Photography by Eric M Chu.
Tomino signing a sketch of the R78 Gundam. Photography by Eric M Chu.

In person at his autograph signing, Tomino was charming and playful, joking with fans, posing for pictures, and drawing smiley faces alongside his autographs.  However, his patience was tried by a poor translator, who was unable to keep up with him despite stopping him a few times to request clarifications.  A bit of checking revealed that the translator used for Tomino had prior experience in translation, but almost none in live translation.  The translator apparently wanted the honor of handling the keynote address, and Tomino assented, a decision that he later regretted.  At just over nine minutes into his speech, Tomino’s staff issued a statement that “a proper translation will be available later,” causing a strong reaction from the frustrated audience.

To be fair, Tomino’s discussion became very complex.  I was not able to follow it all myself.  Essentially, his rhetoric went along the lines of, “A picture may be beautiful, but that alone does not make cinema.  A story may be excellent, but it alone does not make cinema.  What is it, then, that elevates work to the level of cinema?  It is only through the synthesis of disparate elements from different creators that cinema is produced.”

It was an attempt by one of Japan’s finest creative minds to give a deep discussion of art, and I truly appreciated being in the presence of a genius willing to share a glimpse of how he viewed his work.

Tomino posing.  Photography by Eric M Chu.
Tomino posing for us. Photography by Eric M Chu.

Canaan 13 – a lot sure has happened…

As the last of the summer season winds down, I can’t help but recall different endings to different shows with a sense of fondness and in a few years from now, when Anime Diet shall become a huge multinational conglomerate in the world of fandom, I shall recall the summer of 2009 with nostalgia.

Canaan ended and I breathed a sigh as if finishing a long and great thrill ride of a movie. The movie had action, drama, pathos, emotional firework; gun firework; personality and agenda clashes; love, hate, sadness, humor, triumph, defeat…There has been so many things happening in this show that I sat breathlessly on the edge of my seat sometimes and staring at the screen in disbelief at other times; from almost overtly complex plots to superhuman abilities; from great drama to over the top acting; from colorful characters to messianic stereotypes. So much has happened in this show.

The showdown between Alphard and Canaan (or is it really, Canaan Alpha and Canaan Beta) continues. In the last episode, we saw that it was probably impossible to save Maria from a certain death. Well, guess what? Yun Yun does have a superpower after all – it’s the power of not giving up. Somehow, she jumps off the train, chases down the sections left behind, saves Maria, who weights as much as she does, by carrying her on her back and saves the day. I didn’t know having two appendixes makes one a super fast runner and endurance athlete!

As Canaan experiences the near loss of Maria, she understands something. She’s been out of the past for a long while now thanks to Maria, who isn’t her light (messiah) exactly, but a good friend that accepts her and supports her. It’s an old concept and can be added as extra cheese sometimes, but in this case, thanks to Maria’s strong character, this support is firm and not flimsy. Canaan no longer needs someone to be her light; she finds the strength just knowing that someone compassionate cares for her, which is enough for her to become invincible.

Alphard loses the fight; she realizes what Siam meant when he called her not by the name “Canaan”, but by the name “Alphard”. It’s a bright and the strong existence but lonely. Alphard is at the top of the game, but she’s also alone. Wanting nothing else but away from her past shadows, she has been doing her very best to become the top and in her pursuit of being the one, she loses her feelings, emotions and caring. In the end, she has no real allies but people whom obey her out of fear.

After all, Alphard never got rid of the past and that’s why she has been trying to kill Canaan. But ultimately, Canaan, who has moved on, is stronger.

Alphard falls into the water below.

Maria is saved.

Minoru goes to the bar and shuts the TV off and mourns for the loss of his friends in the adventure by awkwardly talking about missing Hakko’s nice butt.

As the Maria and Minoru rides in the Taxi driver’s car, the almost pointless Anime idol’s slow song sends them off with a hint of longing and sadness, in addition to a gladness of flying home. It just fits everything so perfectly all of a sudden.

As for the rest, please view it on your own. It’s best just savored and not spoiled.

Additional notes: Wondering what happened to Cummings? Watch and be surprised!

Do A Cencoroll

Cencoroll premiered in America at the 2009 New York Anime Festival. Contributing editor moritheil was on hand to review it.

cencoroll

Picture unbaked dough. Give it eyes and teeth. This is Cenco, title character of Cencoroll. Along with his human handler, he wreaks havoc on the countryside and transforms into a variety of cool things. The details of his transformation, his battle against other blob monsters, and the involvement of a certain schoolgirl are all integral to the plot. At its core, though, Cencoroll is a primal, visual appeal to the audience via transformation and violence.

Its plot is a simple laundry list of typical Japanese story conventions. Monsters let loose in an urban area, and are attacked by largely ineffectual Japanese self-defense forces. Our heroes are opposed by beings of loose moral character.  Innocents are threatened.  A hero goes out of his way to protect a girl despite knowing that it must be a trap. In the end, a combination of cool under pressure and fiery determination win the day, and it is children who manage to avert disaster and restore balance.

Continue reading Do A Cencoroll

New York Anime Festival 2009 Day 1

NYAF Video, Day 1:

Moritheil‘s liveblog of the New York Anime Festival, Day 0:

  • 11:44 Attention New Yorkers: Moritheil walks among you. #nyaf #
  • 12:19 @misuzulive Wow, how far are you driving to come to #NYAF? (Cars. NYC. Brave soul!) #
  • 12:22 Tonight we dine in . . . Hell’s Kitchen? #nyaf #
  • 12:55 Darnit, people in the hotel lobby are talking about plans to meeet with @animevice and I can’t place them! Who are youuuu #nyaf #
  • 13:40 @s0nified hahaha, where precisely are you? #nyaf right? #
  • 13:41 @hisuiRT I’m sure they were going to! One of them nodded at me and I smiled back but they didn’t say anything. Awkward otaku silence! #
  • 13:42 @narutakiRT I’m a little shaky on the chronology involved. Are you going to the preparty as well, or just the movie? #
  • 13:46 @animemiz Let me know if you’re about :) #
  • 13:47 @omonomono So, we meet again! :P #
  • 13:48 @s0nified This just goes to show – no place is safe! :P #
  • 13:48 Ni-pah, Yaan, Au, Fuwa-Fuwa (#NYAF) digg.com/u1D3It #
  • 13:55 Nobody draw! RT @petertatara: 40,000 officers on the street because of the UN. I’m running an event filled with kids with swords. #nyaf #
  • 13:57 @AA_TheHaisho That’s the spirit! :P #
  • 14:04 @VamptVo Hey, are you in town today? Going to the preparty or anything? Doing dinner? :D #
  • 14:07 @VamptVo Understandable. I’ll see you tomorrow, then, probably :) #
  • 14:21 @narutakiRT I see. I’m going to the party; I’ll see how tired I am after and decide if I can stay awake for the movie :) #
  • 14:33 @omonomono Cool. I’ll look for you when I get there. #
  • 14:49 I’m wearing jeans and a shirt with rainbow afterimages. You can talk to me. Really. #nyaf #
  • 15:05 Guy in a suit just started chatting me up. nothing to do w/anime. I’m too approachable! #
  • 16:08 delicious cake is delicious. #nyaf #
  • 16:13 w/ @omonomono, @animemiz, @kransomwastaken. #
  • 17:37 Rapid search for Yui Makino merch: failed. Trying the dealer room tomorrow. #nyaf #
  • 17:39 Fabled NY bookstores, you have let me down. #

Moritheil‘s liveblog of the New York Anime Festival, Day 1:

  • 05:49 #NYAF weather: 63 F now, 41 F tonight. Can you believe that?! #
  • 05:54 I heard 6 AM. RT @OutOfTimeProd: The #NYAF autograph ticket line for Yoshiyuki Tomino begun at 7am, maybe earlier. Signing is at 7pm. #
  • 06:01 #NYAF #followfriday @princetrunks @ronaldhennessy @petertatara @jlhls @omonomono @debaoki @vamptvo @s0nified @hisuiRT @narutakiRT @PatzPrime #
  • 06:14 Bandai’s PR guy is staying at the same hotel as me. Huh. #nyaf #
  • 08:44 You will know me by my tachikoma shirt! #
  • 08:45 Hanging out w/ @sbrblurb. Come say hi! #
  • 09:02 Number of compliments on my @jlist shirt: 3 #nyaf #
  • 09:04 Cosplayers! Come forth! My camera is ready! #nyaf #
  • 09:22 Just met @Yuricon, who dropped tantalizing hints about the next Yuricon. #
  • 09:25 Note @sbrblurb is wearing a pedobear getup. It’s easy to spot us! #nyaf #
  • 09:56 Had a hilarious conversation with @animealmanac about the finer points of bathroom photography. #nyaf #
  • 09:57 Dealer’s room is setting up. Took video but can’t get in yet. #nyaf #
  • 11:00 Just saw an MTV agent try to recruit some cosplay girls. #nyaf #
  • 11:29 Shook hands with @mpinto prior to his panel. Ganbatte! #nyaf #
  • 11:31 #nyaf @animevice arrived fashionably late – just on time for her own panel. #
  • 11:33 Correction: that fine gentleman is @michaelpinto. Ganbatte! #nyaf #
  • 12:45 Interesting advice from @animevice. Now for Tokyopop. #nyaf #
  • 12:47 @debaoki I’ve heard good things about Chorus. :) #
  • 13:03 @edsizemore whoops, just saw your tweet. I guess you know what I look like now :) #
  • 13:05 OK, why are we at #nyaf looking at clips from SDCC? Is this a metajoke, Tokyopop? #
  • 13:06 www.Tokyopop.com/ramenflavor #nyaf #
  • 13:11 Haha, 1 out of 50 ppl recognized the Joss Wheadon film Tokyopop is adapting to manga. #nyaf #
  • 13:18 Nice catch by @debaoki as to who published what manga. #
  • 13:20 “Not just boobs, MILK coming out of boobs!” Oh, Tokyopop. #nyaf #
  • 13:37 Audience member just called out Tokyopop on declining amounts of Japanese content. #
  • 13:42 Hey neat, I won a shirt. Full disclosure! #
  • 13:44 Tokyopop is now 20% non-Japanese content. #nyaf #
  • 14:17 In the giant blogger katamari ball by Tomino. #nyaf #
  • 14:23 Tomino moved to bigger room; line chaos ensues. #nyaf #
  • 14:25 Tomino has struck a victory pose. The crowd is roaring in approval. #nyaf #
  • 15:19 Tomino conducted himself with great dignity and gave a high-level speech. #nyaf #
  • 17:07 Tomino is the man. Nodded in approval, posed for a photo. #nyaf #
  • 17:09 #nyaf Met the @hinano / @jpmeyer gattai. w/ @vamptvo and 17 other bloggers for Cencoroll. #
  • 17:14 Too many bloggers to list them all. @wildarmsheero rocking the Strike Witches gear. @starcreator w/@wootshirt. #nyaf #
  • 18:46 Cencoroll was very neat. Very condensed. #nyaf #
  • 18:51 @mightyatom That WAS you! I wasn’t sure. #
  • 20:52 @mightyatom I was with a ton of bloggers outside Cencoroll, and I was like – that hair! It’s her! I yelled at you but you didn’t respond :/ #
  • 20:54 @mightyatom Then I thought, “Maybe I just didn’t get a good look; it could have been someone else.” You were moving pretty quickly. #
  • 22:49 #NYAF 2009 Karaoke Showdown! digg.com/u1D8JX #
  • 22:58 @mightyatom Holy crap, you missed Tomino? Well, I have some HD video for you. #

Bakemonogatari 12 – sweet and ironic tasting note

I guess this is the season ending episode. For fans of  Senjogahara, this was probably the episode they’ve been waiting for or wishing for, and surely it delivered. Senjogahara takes over the entire episode and shows the audience who is the queen among the harem, biatches.

As if hearing some folks’ complaint about Senjogahara (henceforth known as SJgH in the succeeding paragraphs) being missing in the previous episodes, this episode we’re treated with her on a date with Mr. Messiah Complex Nice Guy. He’s expecting something wonderful, and instead, it’s meet the parent time.

The long awkward car ride is amusing at best and annoying at worst. However, the interaction is superb if just a tiny little bit unbelievable. Everything happens, however, has a deeper meaning behind it

This probably doesn’t work in real life, but if your girlfriend actually takes you on your first date, together with her dad, and she trust her dad not to beat the crap outta ya, that means she AND her DAD trust you. We see that in this episode. No matter how harem-like the series had become, in the overall story, Araragi really makes  SJgH happy, so much so that she tosses out bold verbal hints or rather, commands, as to bid him closer. Forcing him to say her first name rather than last name in the presence of her dad shows that she wants to show the other important man in her life that this guy is the prince, the knight in the shining high school uniform riding on a white bicycle that comes to save the violent tsundere twintail-free princess from all her losses. The fact that her dad does not even flinch or cringe during her teasing sessions for Araragi also shows a strong sense of approval, albeit it may be cringe worthy for the audience (if there are dads in the audience).

The problem was that this is a supernatural show and I thought her dad wasn’t real; it was some kind of apparition or something. I’m so used to not seeing real parents in anime it was a shock when he started talking and sharing! HOLY CRAP! This guy is real! He talks!

The 3rd part of the show where they get sweet on us is a little weird in that Kanbaru is part of SJgH’s possession and she’s willing to share “that” with Araragi…Now, that lost me. But for any fans looking for the shining moments of love, I will not get into details here but I will tell you to enjoy.

After all, this is the most normal episode filled with enough abnormality that it’s almost ironic.

Additional notes: Although Saito Chiwa is obviously the highlight, the voice actor for her father is superb and the talk in the car probably should go down as one of the best intimate sharing moments in any dramatic story, followed by the scene of the lovers lying on the picnic blanket. In addition, of course I could get into how this show is an interesting portrayal of awkward teen romance, how SJgH’s heart and social awkwardness is slowly healed by Araragi and all that jazz. But that’s best left to other folks with greater interest in the show.

UVA prof finds yuri, takes pic

A University of Virginia professor was teaching to a class of 200 when he accidentally unveiled a massive drawing of two girls in an amorous embrace. A student present reported the outcome:

The teacher finally picks up the eraser. “I don’t want to erase the SOS club’s work, but I have to move on with class.”

“No!!” many voices (guys) in the crowd shout out.

“Oh come on. I’ve got a picture. I’ll put it on your tests.”

Art by Honya
Art by Honya

Reaction from the students was almost uniformly positive.

In a bizarre art-influences-life turn of events, anime blogger and artist Honya has stepped forward to claim responsibility for the drawing, which she claims is part of an ongoing series.

Anime Diet staff reacted to the event:

Moritheil: If this is the future of vandalism, the future is in good hands.

Mike : JUST AS PLANNED

Ray: Yuri: conquering the world since 2007.

Queen’s Blade S2 01 – My Staff and Rod shall be your comfort

Queen’s Blade S2 starts out quite differently from season 1 by filling the episode up with intrigue and intentions. As most of us know, it’s a service show borderline hentai that caters to men and some lesbians mostly. It is not for most people. In fact, one of my friends who recently started watching a lot of mainstream stuff downloaded the fan sub of episode one, season one, and as soon as he saw Melona’s milk attack, he turned it off.

Continue reading Queen’s Blade S2 01 – My Staff and Rod shall be your comfort

Ni-pah, Yaan, Au, Fuwa-Fuwa (NYAF)

Anime Diet East will be spreading its banner and once again making the sacred pilgrimage to New York for the New York Anime Festival. Oddly enough, the only set items on the schedule are the Del Ray pre-party, the Yui Makino concert, and a certain karaoke gathering for those of exceptionally refined taste and articulation.

Not a recommended way to travel.
Not a recommended way to travel.

Liveblogging will occur via Twitter.  Expect incriminating photos.

Meidonomics

Pat Galbraith has an interesting article about how maid cafes are a bulwark of stability in these troubled economic times.

He dryly notes, “Maids in the original sense are not sex workers, though this is perhaps not always the case at the 200-plus cafes around the country.”

This I find interesting. Though it may be a one-sided perception, there has long been a sense of exotic sexuality tentatively attached to cosplay in the West. It’s not new; as far back as Richard Feynman’s 1985 autobiography, Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! one finds a well-educated Westerner at a nice Japanese inn uncertain as to whether or not the kimono-clad attendant is going to provide sexual favors. How much more confusing, then, would one find it at what is often translated into English as a “fetish cafe”?

It’s not hard to think of the supply of willing maids in familiar terms: just as waitresses in Los Angeles are often aspiring actresses, Galbraith writes of the maids, “most do it because they enjoy it, but a lucky few can become cosplay idols.”  Given that this fits the mindset so well, is it any surprise that Los Angeles has its own maid cafe?

For the Japanese otaku, perhaps personal interaction is at the heart of it. In an increasingly isolated society, people are starved for personal interaction. Japan, with its workaholic culture leading to deaths of karoshi, can only feel this problem more acutely.  Twitter, Facebook, and all social media – including, yes, blogs – aim to provide people with regular interaction. This would seem to be confimed: Galbraith reports that many customers are regulars.

Is it really very different from going to Starbucks because you chat with the barista, or going to the local pub where the bartender knows what you like? The more people hold up these behaviors as examples of how otaku differ from normal society, the more apparent it is that they see differences primarily because they want to see them.

Princess Lover 12 – even this one takes a jab at KyoAni

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Good Morning!

Don’t we all just love a true fairy tale style (NOT) happy ending? For men, isn’t it even better that you win the real princess, gets a blowjob frolic with her under the sun, and have 3 other girls that still don’t know when to give up on you? Isn’t it?

So Teppei explains some really simple concepts that Hartman just didn’t get, he beats up the bad guy, and well..

There was one surprise. It’s like Mario doesn’t take out Bowser, but tries to talk to him into becoming a good guy, kind of. But hey, it’s rare to find forgiveness in anime, so that’s a huge plus for this show. Even the villain gets together with his girl for real. A mega-happy ending, just like Wayne’s world, indeed.

This show even gets to make fun of KyoAni. But you know, if a small hit like this one makes fun of you, you’re probably at the bottom of the mud pit. Oh well, I’m sure people will disagree vehemently.

Likable characters, small jokes, and the DVD will deliver the pantsu and the nips. If you want that.

Adapting Bubblegum Crisis for a movie?

From ANN –

Live-Action Bubblegum Crisis Hires via Reality TV Show

The contest describes the project as a “US$30 million, live action feature film production, which will be filmed at Fox Studios in Sydney.” Australia’s Arclight Films, Canada’s Wizzfilms, the Infotainment China Media Company, and the United Kingdom’s Latec International agreed in May to produce the proposed live-action film adaptation.

Ray’s Take: we all know that Shanghai or even more likely, Beijing, is turning into a real Megacity, right? With the amount of people that China has, it can easily spawn 2 to 3 Megacities in the next few years. Hell, with China’s pirating technology (or more clearly, taking someone’s  technology and making it their own), the scientists there could probably create replicants/boomers even faster that previously imaginable. Not because they want more people but they can replace them with robotic labor! That said, I’m oddly looking forward to see the film, if they actually make it.

Canaan 12 – Yep, confused.

This episode has great action between Alphard and Canaan an a rather confusing speech that the former gave. My though is this: Alphard thinks she’s at the top of the game and the best there ever is for regular humans, but of course, the strongest warrior would want to test herself against someone who’s stronger, so she sets up the stage by shooting Maria in the stomach and placing a time bomb at on the train. Simple enough?

All the flashbacks, hallucination sequences and all can’t compare with Eva’s mind fuck and seriously, it’s one episode before the last, just ignore all the jumbling conceptual stuff and watch the last one if you are this far. Everything will make sense after the last episode.