Sunday, June 3, 2012

Anime North 2012 - Return of the Otaku!

OMG, where to start! God, I hardly even remember what I did first!

Wait, that’s not true… the first thing I did was go and register at the media office to get my pass. It was here that I once again got to meet up and see Louisa and Charlie from last year. That’s right – Charlie!! That Charlie!! You guys know Charlie, right? The one who got me hopelessly hooked on One Piece.

Well, he once again earned a place in my writing, since he moved heaven and earth to get me an interview with J. Michael Tatum!!!! Who is J. Michael Tatum, you ask? Well, he is a prolific voice actor from Texas, having voiced such iconic characters as Kyoya Ootori from Ouran High School Host Club, Sebastian Michaelis (the butler) from Black Butler, and – my personal favourite – Doumeki from xxxHolic!!! I have made my love of Doumeki very clear in this blog space before, so I’m sure at this point you can imagine how excited I was!

Okay, I have to slow down. I’m using way too many exclamation points.

Breathe in.
Breathe out.
Breathe in…

Nope, can’t hold it in:

These, of course, were just some of the main highlights. I also got to go to a host club, of sorts, got to see Sailor Moon Battle Chess, see some amazing Cosplayers, watch some anime I haven’t purchased yet, learn about the start of the convention and the ins and outs of how it works, learn about the style and culture of actual male hosts in Japan, and just enjoymyself surrounded by fellow otaku!

Needless to say, it was a packed weekend, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I will retell one story from the Masquerade, witnessed by one of my travelling companions and photographers.

First, a quick description of what the masquerade is, for those who don’t know. For all of the convention’s participants who dress up in cosplay, there is a sort of talent show/fashion show where they can compete for the best costume. You have to sign up ahead of time to participate, and you have to get your tickets as a spectator ahead of time as well. This is because it is the most popular event at the convention – by a long shot.

So, this year, one of the entries was a pair dressed as Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask, dancing a waltz as the well-known piano theme played. All of a sudden, there were some scratches as the music was interrupted, and a voice came over the system. It was a male voice, saying: “My partner doesn’t know about this, but I actually have another reason for being here. I’m here to ask her to marry me.” He then gets down on one knee and pulls out a ring.

This, my lovely readers, is Otaku love. The audience went wild, Sailor Moon went into hyper-embarrassment-mode, and she also said yes. I wish I had been there, but I’m glad I at least got to hear the story.

In the next couple of weeks I’ll be bringing you other stories about the con, and links to articles about my interview with J. Michael Tatum, the resurgence of Sailor Moon, and maybe even about Cosplay culture in general.

Let me know if there is anything else you guys want to hear about!
Until then,
Jya ne!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

AN Mania!!

Hello folks!

Guess where I am right now? I'm in a hotel in Toronto, getting ready for the second big day of Anime North!!


Yeah, as you can see, I'm a bit pumped. Needless to say, I'm going to make sure to report all about it to you guys soon. I know it's been a while, but I am bursting with energy! Ready to write! Verbosim ad nauseum!

Yes. Well. There you have it. I will be back soon with tales of adventures in Toronto!

Jya ne!

Update: Okay. So, I got my interview with J. Michael Tatum and it went SO WELL!!! It was AWESOME! I can't wait to tell you guys about it!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Why I Stopped Reading "Bleach"

I want to take a quick pause from my AMAZING lists of faves in order to address a serious issue: the beating of the dead horse know at Bleach.

**Spoiler alert! If you are watching/reading Bleach and want to continue doing so, please do not read this post!***

Okay, so I really liked Bleach. Like, REALLY liked it, and even have an entire shelf dedicated to some figurines (mmmm... Renji...).  I started reading ahead online and got caught up with the whole story. It became part of my weekly routine, since Naruto, One Piece  and Bleach all had chapters released on Tuesdays. I had a full docket! I was loving the Hueco Mundo arc, the evil-ness of Aizen, the creepiness of Gin, and the evolution of Ichigo. I loved his full-on Hollow state! I loved how he and his papa fought together! I was a little put off by Gin's true intentions... (had me fooled, for sure).

Needless to say, the final fight between Ichigo and Aizen was epic! It was well written, beautifully drawn, and had me on the edge of my seat! I immediately went to see if the anime had caught up yet and watched the fight unfold in front of me!

It was fantastic.

That is where the series should've ended.

But didn't.

The next chapter takes place after the magical "two and a half year gap" that Shonen Jump top series like to take in order to refresh. Naruto did it, One Piece did it, and Bleach did it. Big difference? Two of the three did not come to a natural ending prior to the time-skip! One of them did! Guess which one!?!?!

I would've been okay with this were it not for a few things:

  1. The art style felt completely different. Everything seemed shinier, and the female characters seemed poutier and... and something, but I can't put my finger on it. It's like by trying to make them look older, Kubo sensei tried to to make them sexier. I don't think he was successful in this endeavor, at least in my personal opinion.
  2. Everyone else still had their powers, and just tip-toed around Ichigo who had lost all of his Shinigami powers. Didn't like that. I think the characters would be aware that Ichigo is stronger than that.
  3. Nothing about how Isshin (Kurosaki-Dad) was a Shinigami. There seems to be some behind the scenes stuff that goes on, but it isn't done with enough detail, and we, the audience is left with this whole "WTF?" feeling.
  4. Chad's powers revealed to be this "Fullbring" garbage. There was allusion at one point early on that, like Orihime, Chad's powers were partly thanks to Ichigo unconsciously sharing his power with those close to him. At least that's what I got from it. Either way, I didn't like this whole "Fullbring" stuff from the get-go. Does Ichigo have access to EVERY SINGLE KIND OF MYSTICAL POWER OUT THERE??? FOR REAL??

I think I got my point across. I did, however, read the entire "X-cutioner" arc. I didn't even like how that ended. Everyone gave a bit of their shinigami powers to Ichigo so that he could somehow be more bad-ass than before? Nope. Don't like it.

After that arc ended, Kubo sensei went on a short month-long haitus, and then started what has been titled as "The final arc!" And do you want to know how much I care?

Not. One. Bit.

How much of it am I going to read?

Not. One. Bit.
I'm done.

If you're big into the story right now, take my advice and stop at the natural conclusion to the story. The rest just feels forced. In fact, that might very well be the case! If it is, I feel sorry for Kubo sensei having to butcher his amazing story like that. It's just... it's just sad, really.

Okay, rant: over.
Jya ne!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Aurora’s Awesome Anime list #3

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

Now that I am currently unemployed (darn budget) I will hopefully have more time to bring you the best of what I've seen and read.

Check back later for the full piece!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Aurora's best of Manga! Volume 3 - Fruits Basket

#1 - The World God Only Knows
#2 - Fairy Tail

#3 - Fruits Basket

The first manga to make me openly weep, and make me think “what do I do with myself now that the story is over?”

In this 23 volume completed series Natsuki Takaya weaves a sad and emotionally wrought story about a clan who has been cursed for hundreds of years, and the ever-optimistic girl who comes to learn their secret.

Our protagonist is Tohru, an adorable, if slightly slow, high school student who has not only lost her parents, but in order to unburden her family and friends is living in a tent by herself. She soon learns that she has unknowingly built her tent on the property of the school’s prince, Sohma Yuki. Partly out of pity, and partly in desperate need of the help, Yuki and his older cousin Shigure take in Tohru in exchange for her cleaning and cooking skills. Soon after this move, another cousin – Kyo – enters the fray, and the family secret is accidentally let out of the bag: when hugged or embraced by a member of the opposite sex, these three turn into talking animals. Not just any animals, of course, but each cursed member of the family turns into a member of the twelve animals of the Chinese Zodiac, plus the cat who is part of the original legend.

Sound complicated enough? Trust me, that just skims the surface of how intricately this curse weaves sorrow and disdain throughout this family. In typical shojou fashion the tale is all about how love and acceptance heals all and solves the world’s problems, but the torment that Natsuki-sensei puts her characters her through is heart-wrenching. I don’t think I spent a single page of the last two volumes without tears in my eyes. I vacillated back and forth between happy tears and sad tears, but definitely tears the whole time.

This was one of the first shojou manga that I read, and I’m glad I read it before I watched the anime. I love the anime, but it just kind of stops… it doesn’t even introduce the entire cast! I know that it was limited by the boundary of 24 episodes, but it still leaves me saying: “but it’s not finished yet!!!”

So, I’m going to leave this review kind of short, because if I go on I would ruin it for those of you looking for a good “chick-flick” manga equivalent. I can only gush about how wonderful the story telling is so much before it becomes tired. All I can say is, if you’re going to read one, and only one shojou manga, make it this one.

Until the next time,
Matta ne!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Aurora’s Awesome Anime list #2

Back in the saddle again!!

Ok, I’m ready to admit it… I can’t keep up with a regular schedule. This new job is running me ragged (damn you MSAccess!!!), and the lack of sun is definitely affecting my energy levels.

With that said, I will try to be more diligent, and update more often than once every… Oh, dear. How long has is been?

*checks date of last post*

Seven weeks??!!?? Geez guys, I’m sorry. At least I’m here now? I’ll try to make it worth the wait.

Aurora’s Awesome Anime list #2
1. Howl’s Moving Castle
2. xxxHolic

Remember how I said that I didn’t want to play favourites and hurt my anime’s feelings? I didn’t want to be the parent that says: You’re all great, but this is the one I love more than the rest of you. This is the title that inspired that feeling, because, in all honestly, I love xxxHolic (pronounced just “holic”) more than any other anime I have ever watched, more than any manga I have read, more than anything I have ever watched ever. In fact, at the moment, I am wearing a wrist band of my favourite character from the show, and my messenger bag has the lead on it, and my set of keys has a Mokona trinket… Feel the love people!!!

This is me, at Starbucks, writing this blog! And there is
proof of the wrist band I am wearing. :)

This story is a big title from Clamp and crosses over with several other titles, mainly Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicles. It has the perfect mix of drama and comedy, horror and fantasy, mystery and mythology, that it titillates every part of my brain. While we westerners have the classic ghost stories born of twists, and urban myths to make you weary of the streets at night, Japan has a plethora of myths about ghosts and spirits and demons that populate the world and keep everything in balance.

So what’s it about? It is about Watanuki Kimihiro, a spazzy, orphaned high school boy who can see, and is haunted constantly by, spirits. One day, he is inexplicably drawn (figuratively) into a strange shop. After being greeted by a creepy pair of young girls, he is brought to Yuko, who is said to be able to grant any wish – for a price. Without asking, he is given a reading and has his wish revealed. The payment? He has to work part-time for Yuko in the shop – a wish-granting shop. Of course, this is all destined. The theme for the entire story is that there are no coincidences, it is all “fate”: Hitsuzen. Through this “hitsuzen”, Watanuki is constantly partnered up with his classmate, Doumeki Shizuka (that’s who is on the wristband!), the only son to a long line of exorcists and lives at a prominent shrine. Together they help many clients, both from this world and the other world, full of sprites and fox spirits and demi-gods.

Although Clamp’s works are often recognizable by the lithe nature of their characters, xxxHolic takes the aesthetic to the extreme, and to their credit, it works in their favour. The lanky, stick-figure-like body type works well to emphasize the awkwardness of some characters, and the elegance of others. The angular and wiry limbs also contrast the swirls and whirls that make up the atmosphere indicating the “other” world. The artwork is haunting, and hauntingly beautiful, emphasizing the spiritual and spooky aspect of the stories told.

I love Clamp’s works, but this one takes the cake for me. By far and away my number one, I watch it over and over again, and can almost recite half the episodes. Pick it up, borrow it, check it out online, but whatever you do, watch it! And if you do, let me know and we can chat all about it!

Until the next time (which I promise won’t be as long this time)!

Jya ne!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My Bad...

So, how about that post schedule I was talking about before? You know, posting 2 out of every 3 days? Where did that go? Oh yeah, HOLIDAY CRAFTS COOKING CHOCOLATE MAKING GLUING PAINTING SHOPPING PACKING-
(laboured breathing)

Now that it is all over (THANK THE GODS!) I can resume my originally planned schedule. I will start up again tomorrow with installment #2 of the Aurora's Awesome Anime List!

So, you can wait until tomorrow, ne?