Tag Archives: anime

Cleared for Anime Midwest

Last year I went a bit overboard with cons, so this year I was planning to cycle back a bit. But this month, I’ve put in a lot of overtime work hours and it reminded me of how important it is to have fun events to unwind. So I’ve added Anime Midwest to the 2013 convention schedule.

I had a great time at Anime Midwest last year, and with the con making the move to the Hyatt Regency O’Hare, the same hotel Anime Central uses, things promise to be even better! It should also be a nice warm up for Otakon a month later.

Now I better werk baby! Those cosplays and videos won’t make themselves!

YOU BETTER WERK!
YOU BETTER WERK!

Returning To Youmacon

One sign of a good weekend are depressing thoughts of returning to work on Monday. By that measure, the weekend went pretty well! Youmacon is less than 2 weeks away now and I made great progress on my latest cosplay. A cosplay project that has already missed a couple of con date deadlines this year. It’s funny given that the Sailor Mars project is the really the only cosplay I actually planned to do this year. The two other new ones, Mamimi and Applejack, came about as larks. Of course, getting into cosplay was a bit of a lark to begin with, so no surprises there.

I missed Youmacon last year, so I’m really looking forward to getting back to one of my favorite conventions of the year. I still haven’t planned everything out, but that’s not unusual. Right now, I just want to see the guest events, do karaoke, and maybe, just maybe enter the hall cosplay competition. Youmacon was the first con I ever entered a costume into competition at. And I think the Sailor Mars cosplay is shaping up nicely enough to consider an entry. If you do crossplay, doing a Sailor Senshi cosplay is almost obligatory. And life is just too short to be holding anything back.

Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror – A Quick Review

When I first heard of this movie at Otakon, the large anime convention held in Baltimore each year, I literally knew nothing about it. So when Funimation posted the Japanese subtitled version on YouTube just prior to the US Blu-ray/DVD release, I had to take a look, and I am quite glad that I did! I immediately placed a pre-order on Amazon, which came today, and I am writing this having just watched the movie with my family on Blu-ray.

Oblivion Island

 

Oblivion Island is a visual treat for the eyes with animation on par with Pixar and Dreamworks, and imbued with overtones from Japanese anime and manga. The character design of Haruka is gorgeous, and you can see that a lot of love and care went into animating her every move. But it doesn’t end with Haruka, the film makers have created a world alive with color and texture that even moved my teenagers!

Beyond the beautiful animation is an equally heart warming tale of lost memories and one girl’s struggle to retrieve them, making new ones along the way. The soundtrack very ably communicates the emotional mood without being over powering or intrusive. The voice acting in the English dub is excellent! The characters are all well matched and the script localization could not have been better! This is a story that parents and kids can equally understand and enjoy, because at its core, that’s what the movie is all about, family and the memories we make together.

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This is the review I posted on Amazon. The first such review I ever written there. So I guess I must have really liked this movie!

Otakon, Oblivion Island, And Stuff I Didn’t Know

It’s been weeks since the 2012 edition of Otakon ended and connections are still being made. One of the first things you do at pre-reg badge pickup, is choose a design for your badge. These designs are images from a popular anime that may or may not have guests or panels at the con. This year I chose the Oblivion Island design. I hadn’t seen or heard of it, but I liked the design and wanted something different than the other choices which were from shows I’d chosen in previous years.

Today, thanks to the cool folks at Funimation, I got to see Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror, for the first time, free on YouTube! When I saw the link in my subscriptions view I thought it was just a trailer to promote the August 14 release of the Blu-ray/DVD. Instead it was the full 99 minute movie in Japanese with English subtitles. I hadn’t planned to watch a whole film at my PC, but I was hooked by gorgeous visuals and a heart warming story of retrieving lost memories and relationships that today was especially resonant with me. So I guess I chose the right badge afterall.

The days leading up to Otakon were busy as always as I feverishly worked to complete my Sailor Mars cosplay. But in the end I just ran out of time and shelved the project for a later con (Dragon*Con hopefully) rather than wreck myself before making a 700 mile drive. That hurt a bit and should have been a warning that I needed to plan things better, but I had my new Mamimi along with a new wig for my Uhura, so I really didn’t take it as such.

No problems on the drive, only some anxiety about not changing the oil before setting out. Again, more planning needed. But somehow I managed to cheat failure and make it into the city as I had 7 times before. I had a lot of trouble getting through traffic to the parking garage, but nothing fatal. No problems with badge pickup either.

I had dinner with friends from the Megatokyo forums, but skipped out on the bar afterwards to get in before the rain resumed and to get some rest for the next day.

As usual, I was several hours later than I would have liked getting ready. But I finally finished up and hit the street in my Uhura cosplay. This costume had gotten a great reception on Sunday last year, so I was anxious to see how it would fare over a full convention day. Well it went over very well with nice compliments, including a “beam me up” from the crossing guard at the convention center. After that, all of my plans started going off the rails fairly quickly.

Kollision Con 2011 Aftermath Super Late Summer Edition

It’s funny writing about a con that took place so many months ago now. But I’m really compelled to do so because I think that Kollision was a turning point for me and my con going adventures. At a small con, there isn’t much between you and everything else. There’s no place to hide, everything’s exposed.

This exposure can be a good thing because you can really get close to the guests and take part in the activities of the con in a more personal fashion. But it can also be kinda scary if you’re not a very social person. It’s difficult to be a shy cosplayer in such an environment!

My Saturday ended up being a dim sum of panels and running into old con friends. And I finally got to see Eyeshine perform! The concert was a lot of fun, in no small part because we were are right up close to the stage. Afterwards I bought some CDs and then wandered about some before the masquerade which I had entered as a craftmanship walk-on.

My Uhura cosplay is a fun one to walk around it because the red minidress really stands out and because everyone knows what it is. I’m always getting photo request from older people whether they’re at the con or not. And while I didn’t really know it at the time, I was passing really well.

This would be only my 3rd cosplay masquerade walk-on, and I was excited to be doing it because I really like this costume and had fun making it. Though it looked like there might actually be more cosplayers in the hall than spectators. So many great costumes around me! I wish I’d had my camera. In particular, there was an eye-popping Starfire cosplayer whose skin was completely orange. She was gorgeous!

Kollision Con 2011 Pics

We ended up with a nice crowd and I hit all of my marks. I guess at heart, I love the attention you get walking the stage so it was with great joy, and surprise, when I had to go onstage again to claim my Honorable Mention certificate! Looking back, I think that the enthusiasm I had detailing how I made the costume probably helped. And I think Jamie Marchi was one of the judges too!

Most of the night was spent doing karaoke. It was awesome! The song I had the most fun singing though was, It’s Raining Men by The Weather Girls. It’s a fun song that I first heard sung by a group of women at Reactor in the old Purple Hotel. I thought the absurdity of a guy dressed as Uhura singing that song would be a fun spectacle and it was! LOL I visited the dance briefly, but the music just didn’t do anything for me, so I returned to karaoke until it ended.

Midwest Karaoke Madness Blues Brothers

Sunday it was back to street clothes and cosplaying myself. Ran into Ed, another crossplayer I see regularly at the cons I go to. It was fun talking with him a bit as at the larger cons, there usually isn’t a lot of time between one event or another I’ll be trying to get to. I feel like I got a little more comfortable with myself at Kollision Con whether in costume or not. And I’ve carried this forward with me since then. It never ceases to amaze me the situations and venues that God uses to speak to me.

So I had fun at a little con named Kollision Con. I don’t know yet if I’ll be able to return for 2012, but I certainly won’t forget 2011.

Anime Midwest 2012 Aftermath I

What can I say? Anime Midwest proved to be a small con with some big fun. While I love the sensory overload of the big cons, Anime Midwest was well worth the time and effort. Naturally I was feverishly finishing up a new cosplay before the con. Yeah, I can never just relax and get ready. LOL

Taking place over the July 4th holiday period, I was lucky enough to be able to take both the 5th and 6th off. So getting out to the con in Chicago suburban Lisle, was pretty low pressure. When I parked the car, it was over 100 degrees F outside. So I was less than happy when I learned that the hallways outside my hotel room were not air conditioned. Hot halls do not make for happy cosplay makeup and wigs!

Friday, I wore my Stocking cosplay which has proven to be one of my favorites. The wig is hard to manage, but I love this costume and the gothy makeup style I can use with it! Since it was a small con, I activated small con picture taking mode. Even at a large convention, the chances of most cosplayers finding pictures of their cosplays online is fairly small. So at smaller conventions I make an extra effort to take pictures whenever I can. Then afterwards I place them on my Flickr account and squawk about them on Twitter, Facebook, and this blog so that they are easy to find.

One of the first things I noticed was all of the Homestuck cosplay. This had to be the largest single contingent of fans at Anime Midwest. And my oh my were they having a great time. They were literally singing and dancing all weekend long. They were closely followed by the Hetalia fans. Oh my! ^_^

AnimeMidwest-2012009

After opening ceremonies I went to the first guest panel featuring voice actors Jamie Marchi, Ian Sinclair, and Joel McDonald. Greg Ayres popped in briefly as well. This was one of the biggest reasons I decided to attend Anime Midwest. I first saw Jamie at Kollision Con last fall and really liked her. At most of the cons I’ve been to, the actors have proven to be really fun, smart, and entertaining.

I wanted to asked Jamie a question about the English dub of Panty and Stocking. She’s the voice of Panty and the English script writer. But the *ahem* language I’d need to use just to ask the question forced me to wait until the after hours panel. That panel was totally off the hook! At the beginning, each person who wanted to ask a question was required to use at least one swear word in asking it. Over the course of the evening, that number increased to five! The Panty and Stocking dub is awesome! My question was who came up with the exclamation of “Repent Motherfuckers!” during the angel transformation sequence. Jamie said that was her idea. And it fit the lip flaps perfectly. It definitely fit the flavor of the series, that’s for sure.

By the end of the panel, the white board was covered with numerous depictions of genitalia, and I’m sure we had all earned ourselves a thoroughly soapy mouth washing! I rarely swear, so I think I must have used up at least two weeks worth that night.

My first day finished up with a costume change to my Miho cosplay before the Friday rave. Miho has become my go to rave cosplay. She looks like a goth rave girl anyway. Though I’m not completely sure what she looked like to the people I encountered in the elevator on the way to the dance. Apparently, the hotel was also host to a wedding party that night. So my purple hair caused a bit of a stir and one young woman was unsure whether I was a woman or a man. As we left the elevator, she apologized profusely for possibly using the wrong pronouns in reference to me. I assured her it was quite okay, quite happy, as any crossplayer might be, to have done a good enough job to engender such confusion (pardon the pun).

I had fun dancing, but wasn’t too hot on the music. So I only stayed a couple of hours before drawing my first day to a close. The next day would be Mamimi’s big debut. But more on that later.

Anime Midwest Prep Is On

I’ve been getting a new cosplay ready for Anime Midwest which is this coming weekend. With Otakon at the end of the month, at first I hadn’t planned on going, but you only live once, lol. Anyway, I figured it would be fun to check out a young con and the guest list is looking pretty good with Greg Ayres among others slated for the weekend. And of course, we cosplayers rarely pass up a chance to strut out a new costume.

I made really good progress on my Mamimi this weekend, so I think I’ll have it ready in time. FLCL is one of my all time favorite anime series, so I thought it would be fun to run about the con taking pictures of cosplayers as Mamimi!

OMG Kawaii Desu!

It really feels good to have finally gotten OMG Kawaii Desu!: A parent’s guide to anime, manga, and cosplay out the door! I started working on the book over a year ago so this baby was already way overdue, LOL! The book is intended to be an instructive tranquilizer for parent’s whose children have gotten into anime, manga, and/or cosplay. It’s the sort of guide meant to read while waiting for your kids at an anime convention. Over the years, I’ve met a number of parents and grandparents in this role. Many really aren’t sure what this stuff the kids are into is all about. This short guide seeks to answer those questions, and, I hope, encourage parents to join the party!

OMG Kawaii Desu!
The book is now available on the Kindle for $1.99 or free to borrow for Amazon Prime members. So check it out and leave a review or rating to let me know what you think. BTW, the cover art is by my totally awesome daughter Vanessa who is herself  OMG Kawaii Desu (really cute)!

AMKE Approaches!

Laverne and ShirleyYeah, I’m waaaaay behind on my writing, but it’s all good! Anime Milwaukee is coming up next weekend! I’m not really sure what to expect. Some friends went last year and seemed to have a good time. So when I saw the AMKE table at Kollision Con, I started making plans to go. Besides, Milwaukee is a short 90 minute drive from Chicago. And having missed Youmacon and Ohayocon, I’ve been trying to fill my con void with smaller cons leading up to C2E2 and Anime Central in April.

No new cosplays planned, just bringing out some old faves, that I haven’t quite decided on yet. I’ve pretty much settled into one new cosplay per year now. And this year I want to continue focusing on cosplays I’ve always wanted to do. So I’ve got Sailor Mars in the works and maybe one or two more in the works over 2012-2013. You never know which con/cosplay will be your last, and I don’t want to have any regrets when that day comes!

Anime Hoes, Myth, and Crossplay

I’ve followed the crossplay forum on Cosplay.com for a number of years now, and not surprisingly, the majority of the cosplayers there female. Many, if not most cite their reason for crossplaying as being because most of the female anime characters wear skimpy, slutty costumes. And this is often used as a way to assuage fears that their parents may have about crossplay. But casting the women and girls of anime as bitches and hoes is not only inaccurate, it’s something of an insult to the growing number of male fans who choose to cross the line and cosplay them.

The majority of the dresses, skirts, school and military uniforms are relatively tame. Cute, yes, slutty, mostly not. Even the uniforms of the eroge game, Bible Black, are fairly modest. Indeed, the costumes of one of the most popular series for MtF crossplay, the Touhou PC games, are quite modest. And the character personalities run the same range as male characters in my opinion.

The denigration of these characters to justify FtM crossplay just plays into the worst gender stereotypes which generally prefer the masculine over the feminine. It’s always better to be a tomboy than a sissy in that mindset. Which is quite sad because those of us who choose to crossplay female characters often do so, not only for a love of the character, but a love of the female form and feminine characteristics.

We all have both male and female characteristics. Crossplay gives us a way to have some more fun with our “other” and just maybe understand it a little better.

Resume Play On A Parent’s Guide To Anime Manga And Cosplay!

After a lot of summer adventures, some planned, and some not, I’m getting back to work on my next ebook, A Parent’s Guide to Anime, Manga, and Cosplay. I’m rather excited because I’ve got a kick-ass cover ready and the book is about 80% complete. And with the 1 year anniversary of Anime Aftershocks coming up, it’d feel good to get another title out the door!

Due to another project, I’ve gotten into the habit of working a couple of hours in the morning before leaving for the office. So I’m going to use these power hours to finish up the book at last!

Die Has Been Cast For Dragon*Con!

The die has been cast, I just registered for Dragon*Con 2012! I reserved a room a few weeks ago, so I figured it was time to pay for a badge before the cost goes up on the 15th.

I’ve wanted to go to Dragon*Con for some time and had originally planned to go this year. But I got laid off around this time last year and had to put those plans on hold. Fortunately, I’m working again, so it’s back on! Yay! I’m hoping to take my Uhura to the parade and will probably have one or two new cosplays by that time. Not sure what yet, but I always find yet another costume that must be made!

Otakon 2011 Aftermath

It’s been quite a summer of travel for me this year. Right after Otakon, it was off on a road trip to Toronto for nearly a week. Then back to work, followed by this year’s installment of Wizard World Chicago Comic Con.

Otakon was fun and full of interesting feelings for me this year. I’ve been doing contract work most of this year, so for a while, I wasn’t even sure if I’d be able to attend. But things worked out and I hit the road for my 7th consecutive Otakon. I had three cosplays planned, Miho Tohya, Stocking, and Uhura. The Uhura costume was fun, challenging, and a lot of work to make. But I finished in time for the convention.

I wore Miho on Friday and as I had expected, there wasn’t a lot of recognition of the cosplay. Miho is a character from MegaTokyo, a web comic and OEL graphic novel series. Still I had fun with the cosplay and enjoyed singing and dancing in it. One extra level of difficulty came from staying at the Sheraton, which is a couple of blocks from the convention center. That meant navigating the public streets in costume, something that would prove interesting as well as enlightening over the weekend.

Madoka and Kyubey

Saturday it was Stocking cosplay day. I had worked up the courage to go to the Panty and Stocking photoshoot, unfortunately I was late and basically missed it. It’s okay though. I was late because I just had to squeeze in some karaoke first. Karaoke trumps everything, LOL! Made it to the Masquerade, which was okay for the most part.

Normally Sunday is not a big cosplay day for me, but with a new costume to show off, this Sunday was different. I had no idea just how different it would prove to be. The heat had been a problem all weekend and even the convention center was hot in places due to AC failures. So I was bit concerned about makeup with a new cosplay. As I stepped out into the heat, my main thought was to get to the BCC quickly.

No sooner had I crossed the street than a woman with children stopped me for a photograph. She was excited telling me how much she liked my costume. Soon I realized that she had no idea I was a guy, so I just nodded and smiled to maintain the illusion. Pic requests are part of the fuel that make cosplayers go, so I was pretty happy when I reached the BCC where I was immediately stopped for a picture by a man with a professional looking camera. Again, no idea I was a guy.

I got a lot of compliments and picture requests for my Uhura cosplay throughout the day. It even lead to a very enjoyable conversation with a fellow Star Trek fan. In the dealers room, I noticed a couple of thing immediately. One, a lot of pic requests came from black people. Two, a lot of these were black guys! This is really the first time I cosplayed a character who was black like me, but I wasn’t really expecting it to be so popular.

At the end of the con, while walking back to my hotel, I’d learn that my Uhura might be just a little bit too popular. About a block from the hotel a black man on the street asked if he could take my picture. I agreed and struck a pose. He took the picture and then asked me, “Can I walk with you?” I’m not sure if I was alarmed, shocked or what. I just silently shook my head. He got the message and we parted company.

In retrospect, I realized that it was a good thing that I did not reveal my true gender. There’s no telling how he would have reacted given that he’d just tried to pick me up. This was when I had my epiphany. I’d been worried all weekend about my cosplays and whether I looked good in them, and as a crossplayer whether I was passing. Turns out I was passing pretty damn good!

On the way to the con I had random guys apparently trying to talk to me. At the con, when I was getting food, some of the staff clearly didn’t know I was a guy. I enjoyed some of the ruckus that caused as I left. On Friday night on my way into the dance, a guy stopped me for picture. That was the only pic request my Miho got, which actually looks kinda like rave wear. And on Saturday night on my way back to the hotel after the Masquerade in my Stocking cosplay, while waiting on the corner next to another random guy, I noticed him totally checking me out. Hello! I’m standing right here! Nevertheless, he was running his eyes up and down my body. If he knew I was male like him, I doubt he’d have done that.

The only logical conclusion to draw from all of this was that despite some misgivings, my crossplays were pretty good. And, I was especially attractive to black guys. Or at least they were the most likely to make their interest known in a visible manner. So as I left Baltimore, I had my usual post con glow but on this occasion it was mixed with an extra portion of pride for a job well done!

ACen Aftershocks: Extended Edition End

Friday had turned out to be a good start for the con. Saturday would prove to be the greatest challenge on an almost existential level. I’ve been coming to Anime Central with my family since 2004, so this was our 8th ACen. It always managed to be a fun time, even with the occasional drama that can happen sometimes when you stuff your family into a hotel room half filled with costumes and plushies.

But sadly, my wife wasn’t having as much fun as the rest of us. So I decided to make a concerted effort to find some things to do that she would enjoy. I should have known that this was simply doomed to failure because at the end of the day my wife is not a nerd. An intellectual, yes. Indeed, she is a scholar in the best of ancient Chinese tradition. But she is not a nerd or a geek. Moe and mecha mean nothing to her. And, well, cosplay goes right up to the line. Crossplay crosses over that line and crashes hard into the bottom of a deep deep chasm of the unmentionable.

As has become our custom, the family arrived at the worst time on Saturday morning, right in the middle of the AMV contest, and later we played some unintentional hide and seek in the dealers room. We finally got together in time to go the Khaotic Kouture fashion shows with Sixh and h.NAOTO after a candid little interview with the Cosplay in America guy! I thought the fashion show was pretty cool, the wife, not so much. She just wasn’t into it. Afterwards we went on a little photo run and then had some late lunch together.

acen2011-061

In the end, we decided that this would be her last ACen. She and our oldest daughter just aren’t very interested in anything at the con. So next year it’ll just be me and the 3 youngest. My sons and younger daughter are all hardcore gamers and anime fans. They had a great time playing in the video game tournaments and cosplaying. So I cannot wait until next year!

acen2011-090

Last year I didn’t get in line early enough for the masquerade, so this year I took no chances. Still I ended up all the way behind the Hyatt standing on a muddy lattice of bricks that was pure hell in heels.  But it was all good. The masquerade was pretty good this year. I liked the MCs and I liked starting with the walk-ons rather than the skits. When the skits go first, there’s usually a rush for the door once they end which I think is unfair to the walk-on cosplayers. Cosplayers often put a lot of work into their costumes and we all want people to see it! Having the half time show hosted by the popular Zak and Voltz was another good move. In the end I think this was one of the best ACen masquerades in some time. No awful yaoi skits, and I actually found the occasional explosion of T and A in some of the walk-ons quite enjoyable.

While my Stocking cosplay did not feature any T and A, it must have been convincing enough to some.  While going to the bathroom and fixing my makeup, in the men’s room of course, I encountered a hotel security officer. I looked at him, he looked at me. No words were exchanged and I left. He came out a short time later, looked at me some more. Still no words were exchanged. I guess someone thought I was in the wrong bathroom and called security. I guess I’ll take that as a compliment, LOL.

I decided to skip Karaoke Madness in favor of the Soap Bubble dance because I’d gone on Friday night and was a little disappointed that so few anime themed songs were done. I know some people were complaining about this on the ACen forums, but I can understand the desire to open up the fun to more people. Still it is kind of funny to see the tension between the more extreme Asia-philes (aka weeaboos) and more mainstream con-goers. I think over the years ACen has moved in a more mainstream direction. I’ve seen this in the music at the dances too. Sadly, imho, one rarely hears anime themed music mixes there anymore.

Luckily I did not have to wait in line for the Soap Bubble for very long. I liked the music for the most part until the dubstep stuff started. Sorry, just couldn’t get into it. So I decided to get some water, sit, and people watch for a while. There was the cutest couple dancing close to each other off in their own world. The guy was a tall chubby Asian guy, almost the epitome of the stereotypical image of an anime fan boy. And the girl, also tall and wearing a sailor fuku, the spitting image of the cute anime nerd girl. I’ll never forget how cute they were together!

I had thought about going to the Panty and Stocking photoshoot, but decided against it because I’m still a little shy about photoshoots. It’s silly, but maybe I’ll be ready in time for Otakon. After the dance, I reluctantly went to bed. The biggest day of the con was over. T_T

Sunday is always somber. It’s nice not having the work of getting into costume, but that also means not having the fun of getting into costume and just being me. I don’t cosplay because I don’t like being myself. Cosplay is just more self to be!

Breakfast with the family was nice and we got checked out without too much delay since most people were still sleeping. Wife and kids went back to Chicago and I made my final rounds. I was happy to get to the Robotech panel with Steve Yun. Robotech was one of the series that reignited my interest in anime.

I’m already planning for next year’s ACen. The dynamic is going to be a lot different and I plan to try some new things or do things differently, including going to photoshoots! Sometimes I wonder if cons are more fun with the spice of drama mixed in. I wonder…

Mima