All posts by shika

Forget the hippo! What a geeky gal really wants this winter!

A lot of people seem to think I’m easy for shop for, and it’s true; you can give me a ball of tin foil and I’ll be entertained for hours. Think of all you can do with tin foil! You could make a hat… or a gravy boat… or even turn it into a super cool shirt. (Nipple covers, at least. Depends how large that ball of foil is.)

Well, now that I’m going to end up with 50 balls of tin foil in my stocking here’s a list for you original gents and gems who feel like giving someone (particularly someone spiffy and silly and spacey) something especially fantastic;

High School of the Dead (1) on DVD Blue Ray and High School of the Dead (2) on DVD Blue Ray
Don’t be fooled by the gratuitous panty shots, ladies really dig this series. I know, I am one. I’ve also seen some of the straightest women in the world turn a bit yuri watching HOTD. It’s the zombies. Apocalypse never gets old and watching zombie’s brains get bashed excites women. This can be considered a gift for the receiver AND the giver.

Ready for a play date?
Saeko Busujima 1/8 Cast off Figurine
I told you, HOTD does odd things to ladies. I’d probably play with Saeko every day. Goodness, I’d post pics of her all the time too! Hah, she’d become the star of my posts. Admit it, you kinda wanna play with Saeko too!

Unfortunately, the main anime soundtrack I’d love to obtain is unavailable.
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In case it ever reappears on Amazon, I’ll keep that link there.
Angel Beats! is a terrific anime that follows Maeda’s obsession with winged creatures, themes of death and renewal, as well it contains a lot of bloodshed which for a Maeda creation may be untypical, though it’s well played here. The music is at times airy, and at times it plays into the heavy hearted anime so well that it’s the breaking point between “I’m too strong to cry” and “that’s so sad, wah wah wah.” I imagine put to the background of my or another’s life, it would add an intriguing beat. Definitely would love to have some of these gorgeous piano pieces playing in my headphones.

Kompeito This is my most recent addiction, and I have to admit my favorite thing for people to do is feed into my addictions! This candy is fairly inexpensive, yet so BRIGHT and SO SO COLORFUL!!!! It tastes like pure sugar and sweetness, though a bag lasts awhile and certainly makes an impression in a candy bowl. They occasionally stock these in a grocery store near me, and I get a bunch just to have around. As well, they are one of my favorite candies to send to friends around the globe. For someone not used to the Otaku culture, it’s only strange enough to be interesting though not overwhelming enough to turn a person away before they try it out.

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Hetalia is amazing in all forms. It’s a bit of history with enough caring male characters to be categorized as “BL” without being overtly yaoi-ish, and a fan base to make any con involving a Hetalia meet-up memorable. The fan fics are probably half the fun of this series, though even someone not into the subculture this series has created, if you know anyone into history they’ll get a kick out of this.

Samurai Sword Umbrella
It’s been raining for days and days in my hometown, so this super cool umbrella would be completely appropriate.

Due it being cold and gloomy, this next item may be the ultimate gift that I’ve never been given;
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Silly hats for the win.

If you know anyone like me, or know me, or just like to give gifts then check the items on the list out. It’s not too late for that perfect gift!

Sanrio’s Small Gift L.A.

Hello Kitty, Keropi, My Melody, and an assortment of Sanrio’s finest graced Santa Monica Airport’s Barker Hanger during a 2 week stop in mid-November to kick off a pop-up tour around the country.

Food, games, a ferris wheel, art show, photo ops, and of course the shopping experience made for fans of Hello Kitty Hell delighted the mixed crowd who gathered.

I arrived early in the day, hopin to beat the crowds and be able to get into the shopping area without having to wait an hour in line. Unfortunately, an hour and a half’s worth of people had the same idea. Instead of shopping, I did what I do best; won lots and lots of prizes from silly Sanrio themed carnival games!

A highlight of the pop-up event was the art show, where Hello Kitty inspired a multitude of artists, notably Camilla d’Errico, kozyndan, and Audrey Kawasaki among other impressive talents.

As I arrived (and left) early in the day, I missed the massive quantity of Food Trucks opening for lunch and I skipped several activities such as the mini-putt-putt golf course and artist signings. The sugar shack did provide some nom cotton candy to tide me over with a sugar high until I was off to my next adventure.

Sanrio’s Small Gift Tour is going to continue making stops around the country through-out December. Check out the tour schedule and don’t miss the fun!

Ultimate Posers at Anime Vegas (How to!)


Contrary to popular belief, posing while in costume takes skill and/or practice. Stephanie Scholl, Erin Shaffin-Townsend, and Heather Irete (aka; Sailor Moon, Sailor Uranus, and Sailor Saturn) explained the proper methods of how to pose for photos at a convention.

General tips from the Scouts;

* step out of the way of passer-bys to avoid causing bottlenecks and allow less chance of people stepping into the view of the camera
* before a photo, “check yourself”. Make sure skirts are pulled down, hair isn’t a mess, you don’t have spinache between your teeth, and so on.
* if you are carrying a bag PUT IT DOWN or behind you or hand it off to a friend. Keep it out of the picture as much as possible.
* Practice getting into character before the con. Study up on typical stances and actions your character typically makes and then do those actions yourself. While you may be an awesome person, people want your picture because you are dressed as a character they like and not because you are you. Be that character.

Group Posing Tips;

* lining up tends to be an instant fail. It’s hard to get everyone into a camera’s view and it’s simply dull.
* consider character relevance. Keep main characters center stage and lesser characters on the side while at the same time trying to display character relationships.

Tips for Posing with Props;

* beware of your surroundings. People tend not to enjoy being smacked with a 7 foot scythe (or even a 12 inch wand) no matter how cool the scythe (or wand) happens to be.
* when solo: use the prop as the character would (if possible); weild a sword, wave a wand, lick a lollipop. If not enough space place the weapon “dynamically” behind you or tilt it upright in front of you.
* in a group weapons should be in the back if they are large
* obey con rules, you don’t want your weapon taken from you and despite the feeling that some rules are made simply to annoy, they’re NOT. The rules are there for a reason; protection of others as well protection of the con.

Never (try not to!) forget that the most imporant aspect of cosplaying is having a good time.

During the panel on “How to Pose” the Scouts allowed several member of the audience to demonstrate different tasks and emotions.


A note of warning from Sailor Uranus; if any photographer makes you uncomfortable DO NOT feel bad about leaving the situation and if worse comes to worse, CALL THEM OUT!

Happy posing!

An Easy Way to Learn Japanese (Panda Cubed’s Panel @ Anime Vegas)

The friendly know-it-alls at Panda Cubed will tell you what is what!

While no single panel at any convention could ever teach a native English speaker Japanese within an hour (especially not a scatterbrained “AmeriFinn” like me), Panda Cubed’s panel at Anime Vegas, Japanese the Easy Way offered up extremely helpful tips, advice, and resources to allow even the most feeble minds the opportunity to overcome their lacking language skills and become proficient writers, speakers and readers.

Panda Cubed's representative shares the truth about learning Japanese

Panda Cubed began the panel with a quick run-through on general tips;

  • don’t depend on anime/manga: most characters speak with a peculiar dialect and use tons of slang that would be improper to use outside of the manga/anime world.
  • if all you want to do is speak Japanese (and not write or read) then take a beginner’s college course: it’ll teach you the basics and you’ll most likely be able to pick up cues to move on your own.
  • if complete fluency is what you desire, be prepared to spend the rest of your life studying Japanese.
  • Japanese is completely different from English, if you aren’t up for an eternity figuring out a language, try something closer to English.

Panda Cubed’s offered the best and most fun advice, “if you ever plan on going to Japan (or) want to make learning easier and faster, buy a DS!” Their recommended DS games included My Japanese Coach and Beautiful Kanji Training along with Kanji Sonomama Rakubiki Jiten. When someone says, “the best way to learn is to play video games” I’m certainly not going to say different though be forewarned; DS educational games tend to require at least a bit of prior knowledge in order to pass the first round of a “beginner’s level”.

If learning Japanese (kanji) via manga is of utmost importance Panda Cubed suggested Kanji de Manga (a Manga University publication). If it’s just a matter of familiarity which is needed, Panda Cubed suggested childrens books along with the Japanese version of Disney movies as they are strict concerning propriety as well diligent in their translations. Panda Cubed did warn, “all of your favorite movies will be annoying to watch in Japanese as many nuanced meanings will be lost in translation.”

The Q and A segment allowed Panda Cubed to go into some very important information for any wannabe-Japanese-speaker to know concerning social manners;

  • there is an important difference in the way a male and female speaks Japanese. A female can get away with mistakes, it’ll be seen as “cute” but a male should take heed. It’s best to learn Japanese (if being taught face-to-face) from a person of the same gender.
  • Native Japanese do not have a definite way of saying “no”. Don’t be pushy when searching for a speaking partner. Try a language exchange site like lang-8.com instead.
  • Read up on culture differences if you plan on going to Japan. If you are doing an exchange program, you don’t have to know any Japanese to get by when you first arrive. You’ll learn as you go and your exchange group will all speak English and help you out.
  • Decent reading materials concerning culture in Japan would be Culture Shock! Japan by Reiko Makiuchi, Learning to Bow by Bruce Feiler, and The Empty Chair by Jeffery Deaver.
  • If you are a meat eater, you smell. In a vegetarian-based society, meat-eaters have a certain unpleasant stench to them. To not offend the noses of those you meat overseas, try vegetarianism for 4 months before you go.

After just an hour, I feel far more prepared to (re)attempt learning Japanese. I’m a bit disappointed that all my attempts to learn from anime and manga were in vain, though with all this great info I’m sure even I can master the complex Japanese language.

For materials to aid in your studies Panda Cubed recommends the following websites; Amazon Japan JBOX Lang8 Learn Japanese Pod Guide to Japanese (grammar) Text Fugu

*Panda Cubed travels around the United States, visiting conventions and holding panels to share a wealth of information. To learn more about Panda Cubed, their travels and their panels visit Panda3.

Anime Vegas – Small Con with a Big Heart

The 'Hottest' Place to Be

The dealer hall can be perused in-depth in a span of a half-hour, all can be viewed of Artist’s Alley in a 10 minute walk-through, and at any given moment there are no more than 3 events to attend. If you are “so over it” then that means, you’ve never been.

At a glance, Anime Vegas seems to offer no more than the chance to eat some over-priced pocky while waiting for your turn to play Marvel vs. Capcom in the gaming room. Give the con a chance, step away from the games (don’t worry, you can go back at any time) and step into one of the many other activities that at most cons would take a 2 hour wait in line with a possible chance of being allowed in on time.

Dealer Hall
In it's entirety, the dealer hall can be traversed in a matter of minutes.

While the activities are few, they are engaging and entertaining. With a large con, one can easily become overwhelmed. “Oh no, I want to do this but it’s on the other side of the center and it’ll take an hour to work my way through a crowd.” Here, Anime Vegas offers a small venue which is easy to navigate and though the occasion bottlenecks occur it’s fairly open space to move around and make it on time to anyevent, even if you change your mind at the last second.

The perks far outweigh the annoyances.

Dealers, artist’s, “for hire” maids and butlers, as well even staffers and volunteers seemed relaxed, open, and patient.

While there were not many options, for the scatter-brained this was a huge perk. Fewer decisions, less places one has to travel to, as well shorter waiting times  makes attending panels and experiencing concerts all the more fun. This also offered the opportunity to attend to new experiences simply because there was nothing that “jumped out” on the schedule.

The biggest perk of all to the hard-core J-fan would be the short wait for signatures and a longer time able to spent with each voice-actor, artist, musician, and every other honored guest. The honored guests have also seemed to appreciate the atmosphere at Anime Vegas, with each being able to attend more directly to their fans.

Cupcake from the Maid Cafe
A small touch of detail sweetens the treats at AV.

I’m definitely glad I made the trek out here, it’s been an entirely different experience than the hectic, over-crowded con I’ve grown accustomed to.