Round the Sphere

cosplayer

This week, Paper was great enough to remind me that there are links to round up. Are there any comments you may or may not have? Can you guess which links are mine, and which are the Paper’s?

Yet one more reason why Japan is awesome.

This is why Lauren and her blog are awesome.  I think the main issue lies in the price point. It might have fared better with a pay-what-you-like model. Regardless, it’s an interesting experiment/study into alternative sources of web revenue.

World Cosplay Summit!  With preliminary round at Katsucon in two weeks! Today is the last day to pre register. Speaking of which, Tom has a comprehensive breakdown on eats around the con.

That also reminds me. Cosplaynaut is always looking for photographers to cover conventions.

Fawkes is taking requests for anime songs. Submit as many as you like.

Otakon fever is picking up again… They announced two music guests in succession.  TMR and HMK! Even if you don’t happen to like them.  I (Linda) missed TMR at his NYCC concert a couple of years ago, never forgave myself for that. Did catch his Kinokuniya appearance though. HMK was Otakon’s musical guests Sunday concert two years ago, so you can imagine what they said in the concert of coming back, it came true sooner than anyone would have expected.

Japanese school lunch you may or may not have seen in anime, but it is definitely not just sushi or ramen that would make up a student’s diet. Yum… I wish American diet was like this!

I love any mention of other aspects of Japanese culture meshed into something I know. So consider Noh/Kabuki and what can be learned from this series of podcasts and an upcoming book.

How many people enjoyed Summer Wars the movie, how about the manga? Vertical got it! News found from Kuriosity.

Ask John‘s column is something I always read, since he brings up interesting topics about anime, and for this particular entry, an interesting question… are people who are into Pokemon, true otaku? Otaku in this meaning is not the introverted geek type, but meaning people who get into the other series of anime, and not just staying with one series across several adaptations.

Lastly for this week, there’s no official announcement as of yet. Officially a press release would be come out next month, but how many manhwa readers are there in Anime Diet? Gen Manga is going to be Gen Manhwa for the year of 2013, releasing doujin works by Korean creators. Don’t worry though, in the face of this change, Gen would still be Gen Manga, and release single volumes of ongoing Japanese manga.

Anti-Valentine Kimo-ota’s ode, feat. Megurine Luka

url

New Year’s over and Valentine Season again??? Give me a break. This world, 3D, is surely built for riajuu. Well, I have no choice but be anti-Valentine preemptively, so I won’t be gullible to chocolate companies conspiracy, this capitalism custom. So, here’s Kimo-ota No Hikigatari Part 3. Part 2 was “At Least Be My Okazu,” an ode to Inaban in Kokoro Connect. Yes, how awesome 2D girls are, they will sexually objectify me, even making me their okazu!

Here are the lyrics:

Kimo-ota No Hikigatari: Part 3

Inaba Himeko
that I really want to say she is hot
Yuno Nagatsuma
that I need to avoid

Those girls are crazy
they ask me to become their sexual fantasy
which is okazu, the okazu
I’m happy to become

Loli Yōjo
That I really want to claim they are mine
Yuri shōjo
We dudes would fool around

These guys are crazy
They want them to appear in their wet dreams
They are otakus, repulsive ones
That I’m associated with

Kimo-ota
The worst of all among otakus
Pero pero
That’s what perorists do

Rikka Takanashi@@@@
The best of all among okazus
Shiko shiko
That’s what onanists do

I want to be Seigneur, earning Droit Du Seigneur, or the Right of Master. Yes, meijin (Master), like Hikaru-no-Go, Chihayafuru, Master of Go, Master of Karuta, Master of Shougi, Master of video game like Takahashi Meijin in BTOOOM! For craftmanship like costume-making, meister (master). And for music composer or conductor, maestro (master). Yes, I want to be the Master. But only genius with perseverance gifted by the intelligent designer can be the Master. Unfortunately, I don’t have none. So, I go to maid cafe to be goshujin-sama (master). But that’s yet to be realized since there aren’t any maid cafe until another con comes up. So, my only choice left now is to be an onani master by ogling 2D girls. Master of onanism! Yes, like Onani Master Kurosawa!

Chihayafuru 2 Episode 3: Feel Love Deepen

Arata

Sumire and Akihiro play their first official competitive karuta match. We see them both in hakamas. Chihaya advances two rounds untouched, literally and figuratively, with perfect scores in both. We are introduced to Akihiro’s three younger brothers. The Queen makes an appearance. But we don’t care about any of that because…

ARATA!

Even if Taichi is more handsome, which is highly debatable, Arata is far more cooler and sexier. His expression at coming in second place is enough to move a mountain. His self effacing choice to focus on the high school tournament instead of the Masters is the very definition of adorable. Then there’s his voice. Deep, strong and full of conviction. Alas, his screentime thus far leaves a lot to be desired. The show definitely succeeds in teasing the viewer like a good lover.

Another consistent strength of the show remains the visceral emotions it induces. And it achieves the effect in a matter of heartbeats. It’s even more impressive to note that there is nothing original at work here. In other words, Chihayafuru, similar to eX-Driver or Shodo Girls! or any good writing, excels at depicting universal experiences everyone can relate to. In short, it’s all about the feels.

I had wanted to talk about the drama and intricacies involved with recruiting new members and growing a club in the last episode but figured that I would have another chance so refrained which I now regret. It’s disappointing that the brief, albeit intense, exchange between Kana and Sumire constitutes the entirety of this conflict. Having had first hand experience in founding a club, there is a goldmine of possibilities potentially at work. I can understand if we only have thirteen episodes but at twenty five, it’s a wasted opportunity.

Chihaya
A joke was made at the expense of Chihaya when Sumire is considered the second female player of the club, implying that Chihaya counts as a male. This is problematic.

I have said it before at the conclusion of the last season (if I remember correctly) but I will say it again. And again if I have to. Chihayafuru is awesome because it has a strong girl playing the main role. With the exception of Studio Ghibli, it is rather rare in anime or any medium of pop culture to portray a girl of Chihaya’s traits in a leading role.

Traits predominantly and conventionally attributed to males.

It’s as if the show wants to tell girls that they are not allowed to be ambitious, to explore passions, to expand their identity, or even to have their own thoughts given that another joke was made doubting the probability that Chihaya thinks.

In a sense, Chihaya is Kathleen Hanna. Instead of an object being acted upon, she is a subject who acts of her own accord. You go grrrl!

Round the Sphere

 

polar bear

Ahhhhh… the blistering cold of a Japanese winter.. in my case I am inserting in cold of a NYC winter. Keeping warm is a good thing, IF (does not count if you live in CA or FL or any other warm places, because 50 degrees F is warm)…  you are experiencing winter.. how are you keeping warm this season?

A foodie way of keeping warm, though this one gets a Guinness Record.

Another foodie way.. keeping it warm with chocolate!

This week we are in the midst of Moyoco Anno Manga Movable Feast.  Check out the archive here.

For Black Butler Fans….  live action is coming up.. guess who is cast to be Sebastian.

This is actually a bit of a political sentiment on my part, but recalling back to when Japan had their disaster, there was a mass exodus of foreigners that some called cowards, but here is a reader letter stating that humans and Japanese are not perfect as well.

Watching Documentary of AKB48: to be continued

akb48

I can’t say that I am a hardcore AKB48 fan, but I do enjoy hearing them and seeing a couple of faces such as Mariko Shinoda, or Minami Takahashi.

The first time I heard about this documentary was when I saw a preview of it at Baby Stars Shine Bright last year when I was in San Francisco. I always thought that it was going to be hard for me to watch this documentary without forking over $20+, but it is a video available at CrunchyRoll on the drama side.

Idols are very much a part of Asia media and AKB48 shows off a unique aspect in the fact that this is an ongoing reality popularity contest on a scale not seen much in American entertainment, unless you count shows like American Idol, The Voice, or America’s Got Talent. It is in the record books as being the largest group with well over 300+ members, regular or trainee. Members are evaluated and voted on an ongoing performance basics, as Japanese girls join groups such as this to embark on an entertainment career.

In terms of anime similarities Idol Master, Love Life School Idol Project shows off a side to what AKB48 members are experiencing in reality. This is a documentary for fans of this group. Also as a sociology interest, it concentrates on documenting thoughts, footage and life of a celebrity group in Japan.

I hear positive and negative opinions about AKB48, and they can be thought of as a talent-less group, but there are people who like or are aware of this group. So the question they pose is something people would wonder in the career of a celebrity for a now and then feature.

Chihayafuru 2 Episode 2: As My Love First Came

Kana

Unrequited is the most devastating word in the English language. One of the greatest bands in history and a favorite of mine recently broke up. I am heartbroken. I can’t think of any other band who released three consecutive, not good, not great but magical, albums. If Kyubey were to ask me, I would wish that my heart could be bigger so I may love Shrag even more. Even if the band never has and never will love me back.

Sumire is in a similar situation. Taichi has made it fairly clear in the previous episode that he has no romantic feelings for her. But it’s not as dire for her. There is still potential for her to change his heart. And she has the determination. She’s in love.

Her love seems like mere infatuation at the outset. She is portrayed as one who just wants a good looking object on her arm. This may be the case at first but I argue that her love has transformed since.

We witnessed the same passion she intends to dedicate to karuta when she started to clip her nails. It’s hard to tell if she is doing so to gain Taichi’s favor. As presented, we’re given the impression that she is not doing this for Taichi. While it’s the outcome we expected, it happened rather unexpectedly.

How did Sumire change from night to day in such a fleeting period?

Kyubey is the most poignant word in all languages. Homo Sapiens possess this infinite source of energy we call emotion. Emotion drives and shapes us. Kana approached Sumire by appealing to the freshwoman’s feelings. She admits that the newbie is right about the Hundred Poems. She follows with logic in a straight forward, non provocative manner. Then she closes with further appeals to the crying girl’s feelings.

Sumire
Those two minutes, besides the Glengarry Glen Ross speech, should be studied by all salespeople and politicians. You and I.

I think I am going to write a love letter to Shrag. Then I will create a kickstarter in an attempt to reunite them by providing sufficient economic incentive. Finally, I will tattoo their name on my forehead as a gesture of gratitude. Or something.

Likewise, on the eve of inauguration and the aftermath of the first gun appreciation day when an amount of unnecessary political capital rivaling the size of my love for Shrag will be spent, let us pause and listen to each other. Not just to the words but to the feelings and emotions as well. I believe we can understand each other. We are certainly capable. We heartbreak and we love.

 

Round the Sphere

unico
Not MLP: FIM, but a pony nonetheless!

Some news for readers of this particular column…. normally Paper posts it without fail every Friday, since he is going to doing another thing on Friday. I am changing it to about every Thursday… so yes.. round the sphere we go!

If you didn’t get a chance for this manga kickstarter. take an opportunity to pledge here before January 23 for only Unico’s goods.

Random Aria watching challenge. Anyone in the anime or manga community completing a challenge of sorts?

Gamers want to try this 8-bit graphics version 2 update  of Megaman x Streetfighter for free?

With demolition, anyone would expect months and months of cleaning up, for the Japanese this is a field that looks to researched into, for a safe and sane approach.

Idols and scandal seem to go hand in hand. Can Tomomi Kasai survive past her AKB48 days to only be known as a cradle robber? (NSFW)

Tears is normally not seen as a masculine trait. But given circumstances how can you not tear up?

Take A Step Out of Your Comfort Zone with Sumo

sumo cover

There’s always many things a person can think within a life time. Is it easy to change a career? Would it be easy to move to another country? Even if you move to another country, can living there be adjusted? I imagine for Scott who failed as a football player in U.S. suburbia moving to Tokyo, Japan to be a sumo wrestler, then that would be an impossible feat. Never say never and as they do in comics, the impossible happens.

Sumo is a trade paperback, so the pages are printed on glossy pages, that has various colors. Be aware of the color usage in this story as a tool for telling time in the story whether it is a flashback or a present event.

Personally I don’t see as much books like this that mentions a Japanese sport, so to just experience something that is not necessary the same as American wrestling, this is an eye opening read. This book is targeted toward adults, but can be also enjoyed by teenagers. For other types of books I feel that is out there, that is worth picking up to read that has the same vibe as this type of book is Jiro Taniguchi’s The Summit of the Gods or Natsume Ono’s titles.

If you do get a chance to read this book, published by First Second, remember to cue Survivor’s Eye of Tiger .

sumo sample
Fish eye view 

Anime Los Angeles 2013, Master-bait de la Maid Café

k-on-maid

So, I took the bait, I went to Doki Doki Maid Cafe on Day2. What was the reason I went to the maid cafe? There’s only one reason; to be the master (ご主人様 “goshujin-sama”)Yes, that’s what Nietzsche talked about; Master Morality. The philosophy of Master. In other words, Meister philosophy, based on Richard Wagner’s Meistersinger (master singer). If you’re a cosplayer making your own great costumes, then you are a craftsman, thus meister. And meister’s most respected zokusei (attribute) is the singing ability, and this applies to any kind of meister in Germany. In order to become a meister, you not only need to become the master of the craft but also a good singer. So, if you cosplay well and sing well, then you are a meister-singer. But I’m no cosplayer nor a singer, God or intelligent designer didn’t give me that talent. So, I’m no way a craftsman, which means I’m not a meister/master. And usually cosplayers take at least 4 or 5 years or even a decade to be recognized as craftsmen. Similar to shakuhachi (Japanese flute), 3 years for accurate sounding, 8 years for vibrato. But that’s too long for me. I want to be the master right away. I want to be respected as a master rather than looked down upon as a loser NEET. And what’s the shortcut to be the master? The answer is simple and crystal clear. Maid-cafe!

The Paper’s awesome article about Anime USA 2012 Maid Cafe, the best Anime Diet article of 2012, inspired me to become the master of the universe. I want to build my own umwelt or weltanschuuang. And the only way I can think of with my weak (but not weak enough to be qualified for disability) intellectual faculty is Maid Cafe.

railgunmaid

___

So, I went to Doki Doki Maid Cafe, a cosplay restaurant of AnimeLA. Yes, cosplay kissa (cosplay cafe). But alas, there was a huge line, and I had to wait more than an hour. During the waiting time, the boredom was unbearable. I tried to chat with people in the line also, but still, the waiting period was just too long. It drained a half of my energy. When I went to Miku concert at PMX, that was horrible too. But luckily, a gentleman before me handed me Wall Street Journal which featured Petraeus’ fall, so that sexual scandal was good enough to kill the time. But I didn’t have Wall Street Journal with me this time, and nothing exciting like Petraeus scandal these days, only fiscal cliff, so it was boring. And just before drowsiness kicked in, finally, a cute looking maid came to us and apologized for making us wait. And then, at last, we could go in.

It was 5 bucks just to get in. But a maid at the front didn’t address me as “goshujin-sama (master/meister/maestro).” My instant reaction was like, “Give me 5 bucks back!” And the room was fully packed, and there weren’t enough maids for the number of customers. We were guided by another cute maid (well, all the maids of this cafe were very cute) with an overly short skirt that emphasized a nice looking zettai-ryouiki, and she assigned us to a table. Actually I wanted to get a maid’s service only for myself, but since the room was packed, I had to share the table with other folks. And we didn’t get to choose the maid since they were short. So, already at that point, my meister-quest kinda failed. A group service isn’t that bad, a shared worldview is okay, it’s still fun, but this wasn’t what I wanted. You want to completely monopolize a maid all by yourself. Yes, ein maid, ein table, ein meister!

maidmisaka

So, I decided to give them an order. Yes, as a master, that’s what you do to your maid. Yes, an order would make me a master! At least, while I was sitting at the table, I had the right to do so! It’s closer to Droit Du Seigneur. Well, not quite, but the concept is similar, you are the owner of the maids, i.e., Meister of the maids! That’s the true ownership society that Dubya talked about! So, as meister’s prerogative dictates, I ordered omurice with my name on it enclosed with a heart mark.

Meanwhile, maids brought several games to us like jenga while we were waiting for okazu (food) to be served. Yet, all maids were running around, so they didn’t have time to play game with us, so that was also disappointing. We didn’t get to choose our own maid, and we didn’t get to play games with the maids… Of course, janken was out of question. How can you be the master with this service?

And finally, omurice arrived to our table, but I was appalled by its tininess. 6 bucks for this much? Man, this is crazy. Carl’s Jr.s spicy chicken sandwich is a far better deal then. And what’s more, it wasn’t actually omurice but only the top of the rice was covered with the fried egg. “You call this omurice?” It wasn’t wrapped with the egg at all. It looked like a damaged product. Is this the kind of food they serve to the master? This was the most disappointing service I ever got in my whole otaku life. And no single maid called me “goshujin-sama (master)” for the whole time. How can I feel like a master? How can I brag this to my fellow otakus? All my otaku friends would be laughing at me. I would lose my face a big time. “How was your virgin maid-cafe experience at cons?” How should I answer that? I’m not creative enough to make up a lie, I’m not a creative writer. The intelligent designer didn’t give me that gift too. It’s just shameful.

___

Thus, my master-quest was an epic fail, well at least at AnimeLA. I hear a lot of people having a wonderful experience at con’s maid cafe like PMX and Otakon. I read several good reviews about it. But this one, oh no… What can I tell you? So, the result is, I couldn’t be the master. Or is this something you have to go through in order to be the master? Was this the same ordeal that Job went through when he needed to prove himself to God? I thought Maid Cafe was a fast track to be the master. Neither have I skills or talents to be the master with my intellectual capacity nor perseverance, which is unfortunately my pre-existing condition. The intelligent designer simply didn’t give me those. I’m always awed by cosplayers’ boastful costumes whenever I go to cons. And at this con, I actually went to Cosplay Panel presented by Rokken Island Meta Force, the winner of AnimeExpo2012 Masquerade (Best Of Show), and oh wow, their craftsmanship just blew me away. Yes, cosplayers will tell you that as long as you enjoy making costumes even though you suck at it, that’s all that counts. But to me, I want to be the meister, that’s what matters! Because if you suck, you aren’t the master, you get no recognition. So, the point is, I don’t need to be a genius to be the master if I go to a maid cafe. A maid will recognize you as her master. I can bypass all these requirements: skills, lifetime experiences, dealing with pre-existing conditions and handicaps. So, AnimeLA’s maid cafe could have been my salvation…

However, I failed to be the master. They didn’t recognize me as a master. This is more like a mission incomplete than ressentiment. Oh yes, a foolish koi swallowed a baited hook. Apparently, a koi didn’t become the dragon. Yes, it was a master-bait, much more miserable than self-consolation thinking about 2D girls. It’s supposed to be master-quest instead of master-bait. Therefore, my master-quest has to be continued at the next con then.

maid-sama

 

Chihayafuru 2 Episode 1: So The Flower Has Wilted

She is back!
She’s back!

The second season of Chihayafuru embarks on an auspicious start. Faster than Chihaya’s speed, the premier episode covers incredible ground in foreshadowing the conflicts of visions, ambitions and romance but it is the manner in which these loaded subjects are handled that enables it to rise above other shows in recent and intermediate history.

Recruiting new members will serve as the primary driver of the plot but like a decadent cake, multiple layers await the viewer. We are treated to a delightful first layer. Veiled as a plot device, the future of the club reveals the differing priorities of each member. If conflict makes for excellent stories, it follows that five conflicts should culminate in fireworks!

The next layer gets richer. Does greed qualify as an adjective for ambition? What does it mean to be overly ambitious? Chihaya, true to character, wants to have the cake, eat it and have another or ten more. Her genuine demeanor conjures a hopeful atmosphere of promises. In this light, ambition seems relative and dependent upon context. We feel ready to cheer her on.

Taichi makes a controversial statement speaking with Sumire-chan in their first encounter. Gender roles aside, there’s an inherent prejudice implied in his method of selection. Then again, there’s a quagmire of implications at work here.

Likewise, I have reservations about her resolve. “Let’s love each other brutally and honestly, and not worry about the consequences.” Ryan O’Connell urges us. Reckless love tends to wreck things. A fundamental ingredient of love is respect for each other. I realize this contradicts the image of love. Love doesn’t make sense by definition. I despise lovers who question my logic for loving them. Love consumes and conquers all for better or worse.  But there are lines that one should not cross.

I learned this the hard way.

Because once you go too far, your love ceases to be loving. It becomes harmful. It’s indecent. That said, it’s not often that girls actively pursue boys. I eagerly look forward to this unfolding. Of course, the love rectangle that this creates also adds greatly to the appeal of the show.

Sumire

It’s easy to see that with so much going on, pacing feels brisk and entertaining. Humor also hasn’t lost its touch from the first season.

There is one huge disappointment. Well, two actually. Neither the opening nor ending song grabs me. In fact, the intro feels like it’s trying to duplicate its predecessor which never, ever works. Witness Time of Your Life then Wake Me Up When September Ends or On My Shoulders then Gonna Be Sick! Hopefully they will grow on me with repeated listens.

Finally, WHERE’S ARATA!? That said, I am certain his delayed entrance will only make it that much more special and heartmaking.

If there’s only one show you’re watching this season or year, definitely make it Chihayafuru. It may seem premature but it will be the best anime of the year.

Bridging The Gap: One Day, Anime LA 2013

Images Courtesy of J. Park
Images Courtesy of J. Park

 

Despite taking place within con-unfriendly temperatures, post-holidays, and amidst a remarkably harsh flu season, fellow podcaster, Jenny Park & I braved on to the Marriott near Los Angeles International Airport for what would become an anime convention experience now a world apart. Our day at the 8th annual Anime LA began around roughly 9:30am, hours before central events would take place. And even so, the halls were ringing with activity where most current cons often find themselves quiet until at least 11. As mentioned before, the world outside is more demanding on human health, which results in what should be lighter numbers. Not so here. Anime LA is what divides casual admirers from the fanatics, and as such, is perhaps a far more exciting and immersive event than many of California’s most industry-centric shindigs. Creatures, heroes, robots, and all manner of fantastical entities were in attendance, and even so there was still room for what I crave most from a convention–great people of passion.

 

So how much Anime LA could we marathon experience on a one-day pass?
Over the years, I have found anime conventions to mostly be more like a customary gathering of friends and family. Anime LA is definitely no exception. However, this particular role takes on even greater significance here. Beginning the day by way of wandering over to visit old buddy, Polo & pals as they make a heck of a morning impression with Eyeshine. Imperial E was bursting with sound as we walked in, taking in what was easily the most active early show audience I have seen this side of a music fest. Not normally a sound I gravitate toward, but potent enough to get one feeling it with aplomb. Things became so energetic, that once time came for the show’s finale, Johnny Yong Bosch’s call for all to join in resulted in an impressive crowd on stage, more than up to the task of leaving a mark. Earnest edge rock, by a most earnest group.

 

Outcasts Among Outcasts

Bridging All Gaps
Bridging All Gaps (Left to Right ; Meri Davis, Justin Sevakis, David Keith Riddick, Matt Schley)

 

And then minutes later, came what would become perhaps the day’s standout as we attended the Anime Fandom Before The Internet panel in LP3. Moderated/Hosted by ANNCast’s Justin Sevakis and Otaku USA/Colony Drop’s Matt Schley, and featuring such American anime pioneers, David Keith Riddick (US Renditions), Meri Davis (Founder and chair of A-kon), not to mention several more of the original CFO guard in attendance, this was a truly unique and packed to the gills event featuring stories of the early days of American anime fandom. Davis shared some heartening tales of the days before cons such as these were ever a thing. A nasty truth revealed when she stated ” We would attempt to always have an anime screening room at sci-fi conventions, horror movie conventions, Star Trek conventions. But even then we were given “the look”. It never ended. We were the outcasts among the outcasts!” Riddick’s recollections regarding their early attempts at fansubbing, which led to the creation of the first subbed anime VHS company, US Renditions were detailed and inspiring reminders of an era where everything was “hands-on” and filled with firsts. (One of the more popular activities being knocking on the doors of their Japanese neighbors in hope of some translation scraps here or there. Having no internet in those pre-Compuserve days meant going out and making an effort to gain understanding of these titles that never saw major release here.) Tinkering with crude analog methods to create well-timed subbed tapes, ready for mass production was also a journey. Stories of early anime clubs, strife, and a screening of Royal Space Force under the name Star Quest at Mann’s Chinese in the 1980s were also on the roster.

But the most important piece of wisdom heard throughout the hour came via Riddick, which was something that I feel many a younger fan would do well to consider:  “This all started by a multitude of tastes and backgrounds. If we let all of that get in the way, none of this would have happened. There were trials, sure. But we felt that there was a higher cause at stake.”

At any major anime convention, such words would feel missed as panels such as these rarely get major attendance. This one however, was packed the entire time. Felt like a summit meeting in a Toho kaiju eiga, or even a bunker conference before a grand battle. Filled with openness and excitement, this was easily the day’s centerpiece for me.

 

“What does it take to be Ultimate?”

 

Mere minutes later, and in the same room, it came time for local animator and Star Blazers/Votoms luminary, Tim Eldred’s Animation Workshop to begin. Much like an introductory class in animation production, Eldred touched point with visiting students, and offered a compelling visual journey into the art of making life from drawings. A majority of the panel was a study of previsualization via footage he brought for Ultimate Spider-Man, a series he had a decent hand in. We were able to catch a shot-for-shot comparison between the original storyboards in montage with partial audio (an Animatic), and the final for-air footage for the show’s initial episode. In the rough footage, it was easy to see where shots were leading into others, character dynamics would add nuance, and how vital planning is to visualized action. The pre-viz also featured many different styles due to the number of unique artists tasked with making each scene come to fruition. While some of this does remain intact in the finished film, the objective is primarily about creating a cohesive whole that won’t distract the viewer. Hearing input and questions from the students was also fascinating. In all, it was a fun primer for what is still a competitive and challenging artform that remains refreshingly  hand-drawn.

Bring The Pain

 

After a short break, it came time to dive headfirst into the animation abyss with the popular Buried Garbage panel, hosted by original columnist, Sevakis. An hour dedicated to some of the most painful moving images this side of a malignant tumor. (make of that what you will) Starting things off on an infamous note, Sevakis shared choice moments from one of the most hilarious misfires on both sides of the Pacific, Yoshiyuki Tomino’s interminable Garzey’s Wing. For those unfamiliar, it is a late-1990s OVA from the world of Aura Battler Dunbine that must be seen to be fully comprehended. Scratch that, there is no way to make sense of the unrelenting bizarre that is Garzey’s Wing. Attempting such a thing is akin to looking into a Lovecraftian inscrutability that could only result in sheer madness. Add to it, one of the most painfully constructed dub jobs ever executed, and you have something that could only induce laughter. And this was mere prelude to clips from an obscure piece of anti-North Korean anime propaganda, Megumi which loses credibility points by way of melodramatic direction, and some truly hideous dubbing made by the original Japanese producers. And while these anime productions read as possibly the worst things ever animated, they are nothing compared to the collective horror that was bestowed upon a near-capacity audience. Indonesia’s Ali Baba, and India’s Naughty Monkey (Not a joke) burn a mark on the soul that is nigh-impossible to remove. This is no drunken tramp stamp, these suckers are going to haunt many con-goers nightmares for years to come. The bloodlust in that monkey’s eyes alone..

 

A Perfect Day For A Jungle Cruise

 

Fresh out of that ball of unforgettable, it was off to the spacy LP5 for the much-anticipated Ghost In The Shell: SAC 10 Years And Counting panel featuring Schley, and special voice actor guests, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn (Major Motoko Kusanagi), and Richard Epcar (Batou) celebrating a decade of the prophetic science fiction masterpiece. Looking back at Kenji Kamiyama’s tv version of Masamune Shirow’s classic manga, and the films it inspired led to some interesting revelations about the property’s legacy. Epcar and McGlynn spent a great time sharing memories of working on the series, as well as candid revelations regarding their relationship to the Koukaku Kidotai franchise. From Epcar’s longer history as Section 9’s rugged cop, to McGlynn’s favorite SAC episode, the Q & A session that followed did something that so many modern conventions simply do not — inspire very real technological and ethical discussion. From character dynamics, to the very core of living with organics and tech rendered virtually inseparable, the questions that GiTS poses came though both the guests, and the audience quite clearly and earnestly. From privacy concerns, to transhumanism these were topics that remain every bit as relevant now as they did in the wake of the initial series’ run.  Another panel unlike most. And a mythology far more resembling our world that many may be willing to admit.

 

Delight In Dysfunction

 

Lastly, what has become something of a convention ritual returns, as Zac Bertschy & Sevakis bring ANNCast Live to Anime LA. Having done this a few times in the past, we knew what to expect for the most part; off-the-cuff anime Q & A with an acerbic edge. For a few moments, it seemed like attendance was well below normal numbers. But soon into the show, the line of audience members with questions for our hosts eventually increased long enough to cover an entire hour’s worth of recording. Questions ranged from the state of streaming anime, to favorite films of the year, and were given the kind of unpredictable fun listeners have come to expect. While it also invited some of the usual strange questions  one would almost come to expect from an event like this, there was enough knowledge and humor on display to make the now-infamous giveaways more than worthwhile. Topping it all off  was  a sudden bolt of interest in my partner who suddenly decided to step up with a question regarding TV anime’s history that will make for her first non-Double Chop appearance.

So to sum up, one day at Anime LA was akin to what is often a weekend for me elsewhere. With more familiar faces per square yard than I have been privy to an event in years, there was almost too much to do. Sadly, I missed the 20th Anniversary of Giant Robo gathering. Was also unable to attend other musical performances that I had hoped to catch. (including Momotama which took place every day but Saturday) But this only serves to support my enthusiasm. As a celebration of anime, it was a little strange to see an increasing meme, as well as Doctor Who fan presence. Despite this, there was also a healthy crowd of fans far more ready to salute an artform that while in recent years has suffered some significant falloff, also has engendered a unique collection of generations. All unique, and yet collectively excited about colorful moving drawings. There is a higher purpose capable of being sought out in this crazy anime world. So fittingly dramatic that it should be found in the dead of winter.

Image Courtesy Of J.Park
Image Courtesy Of J.Park

 

Image Courtesy Of J.Park
Image Courtesy Of J.Park

 

 

Eyeshine Site

 

Tim Eldred is hard at work on the upcoming Marvel animated follow-up to Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes which is to premiere everywhere in May. On the anime front, he can also be found hard at work at his new Yamato fan realm

People Worth Following On Twitter:

David Keith Riddick

Meri Davis

Matt Schley

Justin Sevakis

 

Until Next..