Maid cafes in Akiba, Nietzsche would be dancing in his grave!

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In America, simply no girl smiles at you. The only place where girls smile at you wholeheartedly is Starbucks. That’s why I always to go Starbucks, and see a girl smile at me, and have a very short term of instant gratification of being recognized.Yes, I perfectly know that they are trained to smile at customers, and I’m just a customer to her. But still, while no girl smiles at me in real life, I get to have a little humble pleasure from being smiled at this coffee shop, or this globally franchised cafe. I always smile at girls, but usually my humble favor is not returned or simply ignored here in the United States of America, or I should say NAFTA. Sometimes, I resort to a speculation that this might be due to racism because I’m an Asian boy, but that is hardly a case because racism was defeated by Obama’s historical election in 2008. So, since 2008, racism is dead. So, I would think that it’s simply that American services in general are DMV quality.

Now I’ve got used to dystopic America too much, where all shops except for Starbucks are like DMV. Yes, their service is really crappy. They treat you like cattle before being sent to slaughterhouses. Buta-don (Pig bowl) of Silver Spoon even got better love than us. I don’t think they see me as a valuable customer who is helping them to feed their family. When they say “thank you,” there is no emotion attached, and no smile at all.

So, I wanted to go to a cafe, yes, where girls smile at you. Yes, the ultimate one is needless to say that maid cafe in Akiba! So, I went to Akiba with high expectations that they would be far better than Starbucks. As my maidology study tour, trying to emulate our Anime Diet maidologist The PaperContinue reading Maid cafes in Akiba, Nietzsche would be dancing in his grave!

NYCC 2013: Con Reflections

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New York Comic Con, an industry driven behemoth convention, spans over four days. Initially, this was a three day convention, but with more demand, a fourth day was added for professionals and those who are hard core fans.

Tickets for 2013 rapidly sold out earlier in the year, so it is assumed that 2014 would be a similar situation as it was this year. Comic Book Resources reported that attendance for New York Comic Con hit San Diego Comic Con numbers.

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For the press, VIP’s, pros, and exhibitors there was a different entrance from the general public, and that was located closer to 34th street on 11th avenue. This was referred as the blue entrance.

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Attendees had their bags inspected and badges scanned as they entered and exited the Javits. There was an issue Thursday on unauthorized tweets and facebook messages automatically generated by NYCC as a way to socially be the big thing, but it definitely created a negative ripple that Reed repealing this authorization breach on Friday. I had an unauthorized tweet, that I found and definitely deleted due to phishing fears.

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Badges were mailed out prior to the convention, so lanyards were available around the convention’s information booth to people who needed it.

Whether attendees were shopping, cosplaying, waiting on huge lines for either panels or autographs, Javits was packed. The main attraction was on the third level for the enormous show floor. Panels were held at 1-A. Autographs at 1-B. Main events and theaters were around 1-D to 1-E. Artist Alley was at the North Pavilion.

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Mobile technology was the key to getting updates or tweeting. Charging stations were also provided at designated areas around the Javits, either on the show floor or at stations like this.

The convention for me began on Thursday morning and went on until Sunday afternoon. Thursday was when the professional targeted panels occurred. These are targeted presentations/panels for individuals whose careers and livelihood stem from working within the industry. Pro panels are slightly different from industry panels.

There are several reasons why people who would choose to attend pro panels and this is not an exhaustive list.

  • Learning
  • Networking
  • Contributing editorial views
  • Showing sincerity (this ties in with learning)
  • Topics to affirm what you know and bring back to your professional life

Industry panels at conventions are conducted by various companies that would talk about their current products, upcoming releases, and announcements.

Throughout the weekend, there were plenty of things occurring on the show floor as well as all parts of the Javits. It took good shoes, layers, convention survival tactics, extra batteries, planning, and patience. This was all within a small part of New York.

For this year’s New York Comic Con, Anime Diet had myself and Eric Chu covering the convention. Photographs we took have been uploaded to Anime Diet’s Flickr, so be sure to check that out.

Tigercon 2013

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Tigercon is proof that awesome things can come in small AND FREE packages. I regret that this past Saturday was my first time. A convention organized by the anime club at Towson University, it occupies most of two floors of one campus building. It’s not small. It’s tiny. The turnout, however, beguiles expectations. All seven hundred badges were gone roughly three hours after start.

The amount of fun also defied expectations. Besides the band, there were no “guests” to speak of. Half of the panels featured topics I had no interest in. The only thing left to do were the dealer’s room, video game room and video programming. With so little to do, I am trying to determine how I still managed to thoroughly enjoy myself.

The concert is a good reason but that deserves its own article. Perhaps my expectations were too low? Or perhaps I have never been so flattered! It happened all too suddenly. Within my first hour of arrival, I received more hugs than my entire con going career. I think it was six. That’s one every ten minutes. (One friend even half mock shoved her friend away in order to get her turn.) I am fairly confident that the final tally (ten?) will prove greater than the number of hugs I will ever receive for the rest of said career (not counting this amazing con).

It wasn’t just hugs. I also received more compliments on my cosplay than all the other cons combined. And more people requested photos. I even got dragged into my first photoshoot. The avalanche of attention was a pleasant surprise.

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I had just read Charles Dunbar‘s impression of NYCC the day before so I can’t help but feel, if I may be so bold, the Dunbar Phenomenon. In every respect, Tigercon is the opposite of NYCC. Except one. It is still a convergence of fandom. Just much, much cozier and without the claustrophobia.

This has more to do with Towson University than Tigercon but the building featured ungendered restrooms besides the typical binary! I knew I should’ve taken a picture. Really, really sugoi. The two panels are adjacent so noise pollution was a problem on several occassions. While the video rooms share the same setup, I did not encounter the noise issue there.

Considering the scarcity of space, there wasn’t really any traffic congestion to speak of. Of course all bets are off when people decide to take photos by the stairs. That said, there are multiple stairways so it’s literally seconds to take the long way. There’s a gigantic balcony of sorts on the second floor that serves as a good photo gathering besides the pond formation out front.

I have one single complaint. There were no Stocking cosplay. Technically, there was a lazy one who just did the trademark hair. It doesn’t count unless…stocking! Also, seriously, bag check for dealer and video game room is really annoying. Camera, wallet, phone and two hands. You do the math. Don’t worry. There was a line (seven people including non con goers) while I was trying to get food so you won’t miss out on that beloved con past time. Didn’t venture off campus so no report on that alternative.

Tigercon is a gem. Tom volunteers for it so it’s a vet there. It’s COMPLETELY free. Even parking. On one hand I recommend everyone to attend, then on another, I want to keep this treasure all to myself. Besides, I wonder if the magic can hold if it grows too big. Going to show up earlier next year to guarantee myself a badge.

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More pictures here.

Kill La Kill: Giving The Demon Its Due (Initial Thoughts)

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Having traveled far, with a small hill of defeated enemies behind her, sailor fuku sporting toughie, Ryuki Matoi may very well have found those responsible for the death of her father in the brutal regime known as Honnoji Academy. With the net abuzz post pilot episode, it looks very well like the spirit of Ryoko Ikeda is alive and kicking with a perverse blood transfusion via Studio Trigger’s Kill La Kill. The latest series directed and written by the same team responsible for Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagaan, Hiroyuki Imaishi and Kazuki Nakashima. A project that retains much of the predecessor’s warped yen for riff, with production to spare. And what the pilot episode seems to give off, is in many ways a return to Gainax’s classic formula where tried and true staples of the past is given an often hyperbolic, occasionally hypersexed sheen.

 

 

As for whether this debut works or not, perhaps it’s best to admit that outside of style, there doesn’t seem to be a great deal beyond the expected wild imagery and occasionally awkward sexualization of action tropes. While it is everything one would expect from Imaishi and crew, there is not a great deal more here beyond the establishment of the lone fighter versus the totalitarian school and their gallery of student council weirdos. Yes. There is certainly a masculine Utena at work here as posturing is fiery, and bold text is whooshing across the screen. The presentation is brutal and vibrant, but there is something clearly already missing from the proceedings. While one can be considered grateful that the scatological fetishism of Dead Leaves remain long gone, there remains an ever present “why”, in regards to making jokes at the expense of a character being assaulted. There is no good reason, outside of some strange aim to be humorous- which is tricky to get behind.

 

 

With a “boyish” attitude, and readiness to take on a seemingly invincible army of single-minded stormtroopers in strength enhancing uniforms, the show’s apparent bent comes at the latter half of the episode when Ryuko stumbles upon, and is accosted by a talking, animated (!!) seifuku known as Senketsu. And what ensues, is best described as an attempt at a humorous rape scene, which ends with our heroine becoming near-invincible. (again, interpret as you will) And while one can also see the episode’s remaining minutes as something of a sideeye to such a creative choice, as Ryuko seems to maintain her aim as unyielding avenger, it is pretty hard to shake off. Also in the choice’s defense, is a reminder that a lot of Gurren Lagaan’s more playful subtext involved the occasional homoeroticism that tipped the balance in a fun sort of manner. And it isn’t hard to see how this is element is going to play out with the first episode’s head baddie in masculine-dressed student council president, Satsuki Kiryuin. Not sure how to feel about that one.

 

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So for what it’s all worth, Kill La Kill debuts with a great deal of the expected immature machismo & penchant for bending the classics. Will I be able to weather it’s storm of usual suspects throughlines, as well as its clear “clothing is weakness” trajectory? Only a few more courtesy viewings may tell.

 

Oh, and did I happen to mention that Ryuko wields an extra large half of a pair of red scissors?

 

Yeah, that too..

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Nagi No Asukara, first epi…beautifully saudade…

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Nagi No Asukara, just watched episode 1 and oh my god…really beautiful! And the feeling, koi, or saudade or sehnsucht or mono no aware is there! Totally, yeah, female childhood friend, and a fear that she might be NTRed someday by a new boy in a new world. Yes, totally know that feeling! Oh man, not girl-hunting, but girl-fishing! Christ’s first disciples were fishermen, the most sacred profession on earth! But I never want my loved ones to be fished (NTRed)…and here’s why… Continue reading Nagi No Asukara, first epi…beautifully saudade…

Anime USA 2013: Happy Memories

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It’s been over two weeks since Anime USA and I am in withdrawal. As I try to will the memories to the present so I may live it all over again, I am unsure why I love the capital’s convention as much as I do. It’s like the Mona Lisa. It compels me immensely but I can’t exactly articulate the thoughts and emotions that make it so.

My Cup of Tea and Ikemen Paradise certainly play a huge role. The magic of make believe speaks dearest to my heart. Some people dream about living a fairy tale. The patrons of the maid cafe and host club live in one! The melancholy absence of my maid Shiori and my butler Mr. Stanley conjures a greater loneliness than the word can contain.

Then there are all the people that I met or ran into. My maid, my butler, Chris (Director of Properties and Publications), Ashley (Press Liaison), Chris (Press Coordinator), Tom, Jake (Social Media Associate,), Charles Dunbar, DJ SiSen, Hiroaki Inoue (who is trying to bring more Bubblegum Crisis to fruition!), Kit and Shizuka.

There’s also a koto and its magnificent owner, Kyoko Okamoto. Much like dressage, it takes a knowing eye to understand how incredibly effortless she looks performing when it’s anything but. As much as an engaging presenter as a koto player, she introduced the instrument beforehand so that we may better grasp the ensuing performances. The reader can enjoy one of several here. Beyond the lecture and performances, she invited members of the audience to try a hand at it. Sugoi!

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And several panels presented by Charles Dunbar. Enough said.

The press room is much improved from last year. Spacious, elegant and efficient, it morphs beautifully into the ideal photoshoot setting as demonstrated by DJ SiSen. While I miss Lauren, the press staff handled things smoothly in their freshman year. I appreciate the increase in convention space. Cosplay Burlesque certainly deserves a bigger room than last year. Water remains as abundant as cosplayers.

Like Adam, the Vice Chair, said at closing ceremonies, I want Anime USA to grow. Meanwhile, I really welcome its intimate atmosphere that lends so well to a safe space. It’s a heartmaking sight to take in the wide array of fandom represented where judgements made involve craftsmanship not bodies, gender or the like.

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Unfortunately, I experienced one black mark over the weekend. While waiting for the BACK-ON concert to begin, one of the volunteers I was conversing with made the choloroform rag meme. It was something mentioned at the Harumph Gentleman’s Guide panel. I told him it’s not funny at the time but didn’t expound on it further. The pepetuation of rape culture is simply not cool. I am not sure if it was brought up by the panelist or an attendee there.

Guidebook is the only complaint I have. It’s ironic when the paper copy is more accurate. I realize it was partly an issue on Guidebook’s part but precaution should have been taken to account for inevitable glitches.

I hear Anime USA has plans to move location due to the lack of parking nearby. It will be sad to have to relearn a new location after just getting to know the Marriott like a friend. The proximity of the hotel to food, public transportation and the National Zoo will be missed. The con has become like a lover that one hopes never changes.

Anime USA 2014 is October 3rd to 5th with a cosplay theme. I will treasure the memories of this year until then when I eagerly look forward to creating new ones.

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Anime USA 2013: Club Ikemen Paradise Host Club

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“Well, I have to do what you tell me to.”

The top buttons of Mr. Stanley’s crisp white shirt were undone. His suspenders framed the stylish sight with titillating precision. Picture such a deliciously dressed butler delivering the above phrase in a thick, obedient voice and with his enchanting eyes slightly downcast. In that instant, I transformed into Ciel with my very own Sebastian!

We were discussing dinner and I debated sharing my food. The Club Ikemen Paradise, like My Cup of Tea, forbids staff from eating food on the clock. However, there is no denying the wishes of a Master.

My butler restrained himself to one piece of sushi. He exercised far more liberty in a lively conversation. I can’t explain how it happened. We chatted the time away like old friends running into each other. We covered Watamote, competition between Host Club and Maid Cafe, eating habits as it pertains to condiments, wardrobe choices in conveying one’s confidence, his three week long busted lip*, the circular logic of bad pirates** and Pantheon.

I believe we spent close to an hour on Pantheon alone. He’s Mr. Stanley’s favorite champion from League of Legends. Another butler stopped by and they launched into the mechanics and tactics of gameplay in exceedingly high detail. It was absolutely adorable and enlighteningly entertaining listening to my butler excitedly explain the specific steps to counter Darius.

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It’s fascinating to note that the usual awkwardness of eating alone while another watches doesn’t materialize here. A servant naturally does not dine with his Master, after all. It speaks volumes of the efforts the hosts summon to bring the magic to life.

And there’s plenty of magic. The night crowd proved more rowdy than their morning counterparts and the hosts were ready to meet the challenge. A large table next to us had a grand time ordering hosts to perform certain acts. They started with purposely dropping items and enjoying the view. It quickly escalated to hosts passing flowers among themselves. Using their teeth. If that wasn’t enough, you also know it’s a party when DJ SiSen reserved his own table.

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Assistance from the hotel restaurant’s wait staff in handling service and checks provided a vast improvement from last year. As noted by my butler, it allowed each host to spend more time with the patrons which directly and significantly adds to the experience. Undivided intimate interaction allow hosts to blur reality with fantasy. One truly feels like a Master.

I have one single complaint. Mr. Stanley had wanted to show me a card trick but there were no playing cards on hand.

Friday night was slow so I was able to overstay the hour mark. I wanted to stay forever, no longer caring about the Formal Ball or any of the other panels I had scheduled. I was in paradise. Of the Club Ikemen variety. And I didn’t even play any games, having run out of cash at the Maid Cafe earlier. Even if I had stayed an hour or ten more, it would still have felt far too short. Time flies with Mr. Stanley at your service.

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More pictures here.

* An avid airsoft gun enthusist who sports a suit in action complete with shoes, Mr. Stanley once turned a corner and got shot right in the lip. My poor butler :/

** Shizuka cosplayed Bodacious Pirates. She was getting tipsy from just a handful of sips from her martini which makes her a bad pirate. Mr. Stanely remarked as much then we realized that pirates are supposed to be bad. Yea.