the Little Red Reviewer

Archive for the ‘anime’ Category

So I recently posted about a bazillion photos (part 1, part 2, part 3. that’s almost a bazillion, right?) from Anime Midwest. Yes, the people watching and cosplay was the highlight of the weekend, but I did things other than sit in the lobby and photograph people!  The convention had tons of programming, there were panels about cosplay, about specific shows and fandoms, Q&As with famous voice actors, concerts, there was so, so much to see and do.   Hubby and I went to a few panels together, but there were so many good panels that were all occurring at the same time, that it was mostly “You go to this one, I’ll go to this other one, we’ll compare notes later”.

 

Here’s a recap of what we saw and did:

 

Friday:

 

The first  panel we went to was called Dialects of Kansai. The woman who hosted the panel studied and lived in Japan, and was doing a series of panels over the weekend about Life in Japan. Students who study Japanese learn the “standard” Kyoto dialect, but Osaka uses a much older dialect and language patterns and casual slang that goes about about 1,000 years.   I didn’t understand most of the Japanese she used, but it was a really cool panel. She also did the Kimono panel I went to later Friday evening.

 

I caught the last 20 minutes of the Q&A with voice actress Caitlin Glass, who anime fans know as the voice of Winry Rockbell, Haruhi of Ouran High School Host Club, Evergreen of Fairy Tail, Petra of Attack on Titan, among many other roles. She is such the perfect nerd!  She said that as a child she loved the movie The Little Mermaid so much that she’d walk around imitating Ariel’s voice.  She studied classical theater in College, and took the “never close any doors” advice to heart, later auditioning with Funimation in her home town in Texas.  It was a huge crowd, and she was great about answering everyone’s questions and having a lot of fun.

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In the last two posts, I mostly showed photos of Japanese manga, anime, live action tv, and video games.  There were plenty of people cosplaying western comic book, movie, and video game characters as well!  see?

 

Raven, Robin and Starfire from Teen Titans!

Raven, Robin and Starfire from Teen Titans!

 

Merida from Brave.

Merida from Brave.

 

Even Doctor Who and the Daleks made and appearance!  I was able to catch up with one of the Elevens (I saw at least 3 of them) as he battled a Dalek-head. This guy, oh man did he have the physical mannerisms down!  Acting the part takes the cosplay to a whole new level!  (and yes, there was a number ten, but I couldn’t get close enough to get a photo)

it's The Doctor!

it’s The Doctor!

 

Too fun to watch!

Too fun to watch!

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Just joining us? You’ll want to read this post first.

Oh, and if i have misidentified characters, let me know in the comments so I can fix the  captions. Google image search only gets you so far….

Jumping right back into cosplay photos:

The Fairy Tail Meet-Up

The Fairy Tail Meet-Up

Natsu from Fairy Tail

Natsu from Fairy Tail

 

Kirito from Sword Art Online

Kirito from Sword Art Online

Sword Art Online was another very popular show to cosplay, there were a ton of Kiritos and Asunas running around. Running Around, very hard to photograph.

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This about summed up the weekend.

This about summed up the weekend.

Last weekend, hubby and I drove to Chicago for Anime Midwest. Over 6000 people converged on the Hyatt Regency and neighboring Expo center for  autograph sessions and Q&A sessions with famous voice actors, concerts, panels, fan meet-ups, fashion shows, the dealer room, fandom specific activities, and the best people watching in the midwest.  More a Cosplay convention than anything else, the lobby of the hotel and all areas outside were most definitely the place to see and be seen.  it was all about the cosplay, with the most popular costumes being Kill la Kill, Madoka Magica, and Attack on Titan.   Lots of younger people were dressed up, and the costumes these kids put together were simply incredible. Entire outfits, props, wigs, make up, the whole nine yards.   Also? more Homestuck than I ever want to think about.   I took a ton of photos, but for photos that are actually good, head over to Geek Girl Chicago’s recap.

Attack on Titan cosplayers. Check out that Vertical Maneuvering Equipment!

Attack on Titan cosplayers. Check out that Vertical Maneuvering Equipment!

You know how we’re always talking about how we want our conventions to be more diverse? We want more women, more minorities, more younger people?  This convention was the definition of diverse. The crowd skewed on the young side, with plenty of kids and teens with parents in tow, and a huge crowd of 20-somethings. I saw all ages, all backgrounds, all skin colors, all everything. and it was beautiful.  Everyone was cheering their favorite fandom, dressed to the nines as their favorite character, or in some cases, favorite two or three characters all at once. there were anime characters, video game character, a Maid Cafe, American superheroes, Disney princesses, you name it. Had I known ahead of time that there would be so many American characters, I’d have taken my Sabetha costume (don’t worry, I took a different costume!)

A few more quickie comments before getting to the photo dump (which lets be honest, you’re here for the photos, right?)

The hotel was spacious and down right huge, with plenty of public areas for people to socialize and take photos. Loud activities such as concerts were in the basement, as far from the hotel rooms as possible.  Celebrities brought in for the convention did wonderful panels, gave autographs, and seemed genuinely excited about interactive with fans.  The peoplewatching, oh my god, the people watching!  I’d just sit in the lobby and watch people go by!  There was a huge variety of panels, everything from anime show specific, to learning about Japan, to Cosplay tips and tricks, to Japanese street fashion, to fanfiction, to how to use Samurai Swords, to name that tune, to about a billion other things.  The most popular events were, unsurprisisngly, the Masquerade Costume Contest, and autograph and question sessions with the attending voice actors, like Greg Ayres, Sonny Strait, Caitlin Glass, Johnny Yong Bosch, Chris Patton, Alexis Tipton, Laura Post, and D.C. Douglas.

Programming went very late at night, and around 11pm, most panels switched to 18+, and I was impressed with how strict they were about carding people. You had to show a convention badge and an ID. The two guys in line in front of me for the 18+ panel I attended were turned away, and the guys doing the carding chuckled when I said “I’m old enough to be those boys’ mom”. They let me in no problem.

photos!  lets get to the good stuff!

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A lot of anime gets watched in this house. 300 channels of cable TV, and I’d rather watch Crunchyroll.  I got hooked on anime when I was in high school, watched a boatload through my early to mid 20s, and although in my late 20s I got out of it, the hubs has been watching a ton recently and been getting me hooked again.

Here’s what he’s been watching the most of lately, and I’ve been enjoying these too – Gosick, Mysterious Girlfriend X, and Hyouka. He’s seen every available episode of the shows mentioned, where I have probably seen half the episodes. The words below are his.

 

Gosick- this came out a year or so ago, and it advertises itself as a mystery solving anime, but it’s really a character study and a romance, possibly one of the best romances ever seen in an anime story. It does everything right, successfully combining action, adventure, romance, and situation comedy. A refreshing way to present a story, as so many anime are so focused on just action, or just comedy, or just romance, or just slice of life, etc. Although many animes genremash, very few offer such a good blend of, for lack of a better phrase, storytelling methods.

Taking place in the 1920s, the story starts when Kujo goes to a small fictitious European country to study at a private school. He’s the 3rd child of a fairly wealthy Japanese family, and he experiences some prejudice against Asians while in his new city. In his boredom, he explores some unused buildings in the school, and meets Victorique. Tiny of stature but large in attitude, to tell you much more about her would spoil the major, and most fascinating part of the story.

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Think anime is all mechas or outer space bounty hunters or weird jokes you won’t get or Tokyo getting exploded? Think anime isn’t for you? think again.

Take Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, and put it far in the future. A future where a walled Paris is one of the few habitable places left on Earth and the moon has been fully colonized. A future where the rich marry for political reasons and machinations and everyone else just tries to get by as best they can. A future where the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Loosely following the original material, yet told from the point of view of the overly naive Albert, Gankustuou: The Count of Monte Cristo is as visually stunning as it is fascinating. This is an anime that you want to watch because it is well written, well voiced, and simply beautiful to behold.  The fact that you’ll be digging around for old Dumas titles afterwards is just an added bonus.

An oversimplified summary of the original story goes thusly:  shortly before the sailor Edmond Dantes is to marry Mercedes, he is betrayed by Fernand, a rival for Mercedes.  Dantes is imprisoned in the Chateau d’If, and Fernand marries Mercedes.  During his imprisonment, Dantes befriends a fellow prisoner who claims to know of a buried treasure. When Dantes escapes the Chateau, he finds the treasure, and returns to Paris.  It’s been 15 years, and Mercedes and Fernand have a son, named Albert. Introducing himself as the Count of Monte Cristo, Dantes plans his revenge on the man who destroyed his life, a slow revenge that is as beautiful as it is brutal.
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Three weeks in a sultry August, anything could happen.

And it does, over and over and over again.

Starring Okarin, a college student who styles (and LARPs) himself a mad scientist, his hacker buddy Daru,  his childhood friend Mayushi, and the rest of their growing circle of friends, Steins;Gate was the sleeper hit of the summer. Bursting at the seams with Otaku jokes and on-purpose cliches, this is a show that took apart all the expected and overdone anime tropes and rewove them into something ground breaking.

This is my third post on Steins;Gate, so feel free to get yourself caught up by reading my first reactions to the show, and my mid season post.  Really, go read them, as this post may not make much sense otherwise.

but now, after 24 episodes, Steins;Gate is over.  Over three sultry weeks one August, a time machine was created, used, abused, and a choice regarding it’s uncreation had to be made.  Okarin and his friends used the time machine to create the lives they wanted.  Feyris used it to spend more time with her father, Ruka uses it to be born a little different. Suzuha tries to use it to find her father.  Everyone takes a turn to change something from their past.

But everytime the time machine is used, the world line, our dimension, shifts a little.  The city and the people who live in it change a little. Not as much as you’d notice, but an avalanche starts with one snowflake.  Everyone gets what they wanted, but no one wins. And only Okarin can stop what’s happening.

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There’s not been a ton of good, accessible anime out these last few years.  seriously, how much Bleach and Naruto do I really need (well, none, actually)?

then I discovered Steins;Gate. Available to stream through Crunchyroll, and viewable through Roku boxes everywhere, you can buy a subscription and stream it live, or be a cheap ass like me and watch one or two episodes behind.

I got hooked on Steins;Gate a few months ago, and I can easily say it is the best anime I have seen in years.

to put it another way: Steins;Gate is the best thing that happened to me since the original Fullmetal Alchemist.  

if you’re at all into anime, you owe it to yourself to track this show down.

I’m going to jump right into what’s going on at this point in the season, so you might want to read this article on the first 8 or so episodes.  Consider yourself warned, there be spoilers ahead.

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I’d gotten interested in the Anime BECK for one reason: the anime was directed by Osamu Kobayashi, who also directed my favorite anime series ever: Paradise Kiss. Yes, Paradise Kiss was a manga first (reviewed here), created Ai Yazawa, and it was her characters plus Kobayashi’s graphic detail style that made the Paradise Kiss anime better than anyone could have expected. Kobayashi has this habit of putting in buckets of detail at the right moments, things like funny bumper stickers on cars, funny t-shirts, unexpected sound effects, and excellent intro and end credit sequences.

confused? don’t be. Just know that if Osamu Kobayashi has anything to do with it, I want to see it.

Thus, BECK went on the netflix queue, with me knowing nothing about it except it’s about a bunch of high schoolers who start a band, and it’s directed by Kobayashi. Just for kicks, I got the first few manga (known as Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad) out of the library as well.

A coming of age story in a working class town, Beck stars Koyuke, a bored and uninspired 14 year old. Not the best student in the world, the only thing Koyuke likes about school is that he gets to talk to the girl he has a crush on, Izumi. Most of these interactions go horribly wrong, thanks to Koyuke’s buddy Tanabe, who doesn’t understand that peeping at girls at swim practice isn’t a great way to make friends with them. Hilariously awkward, to say the least. Koyuke and Tanabe’s after school activities tend to be hitting up the arcade and avoiding the bullies who hang out in the rough neighborhoods around the school. and Koyuke can never seem to avoid the bullies, both on school property and off.

So many Japanese stories starring teenagers focus on their obsession on getting into a good college and exams and grades and such. Not this one. it was quite refreshing.

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A little bit of Otaku spoof, some time travel, some mad scientists, maid cafes,  and cosplay, Steins;Gate has it all.  And then the writers take the expected anime tropes, and bash them to hell.    While college student Okarin plays at being a mad scientist being chased by rival organization SERN, his hacker buddy Daru makes sure the rent is paid and cute little Mayushii makes sure the boys remember to eat. Their lab space is a tiny studio apartment above an electronics shop, but really, what else does a mad scientist need besides a computer, a microwave and a few loyal lab assistants?

To be honest, I felt completely lost during the entire first episode.   Okarin goes to a university sponsored seminar on time travel, is approached by a beautiful woman only to later find her dead in the building’s basement. A few minutes later, she is alive and well, and as Okarin is returning to his lab he sees a satellite has crashed into a building, and his friend Daru tells him the time travel seminar has been cancelled.  Talk about getting thrown into the deep end.  But the voice acting was probably the best I’ve ever heard and the animation was top notch, so I decided to keep watching.

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