AFA 2012 guide

The time of the year has come again. I’m not referring to Christmas or Winter Comiket but Anime Festival Asia. In less that 2 weeks the biggest nerd gathering in South East Asia will be upon us.

Are your bodies ready? (They will never be) In order to prepare you at least a little, here’s a totally unbiased(not really) guide from yours truly.

http://www.animefestival.asia/afa12/img/afa12_floormap.png

As you can see from this map, this year’s event is HUGE. I suspect this to do with AFA Malaysia and AFA Indonesia’s successes but it seems they have planned this event for a year or more in advance. An event of such scale is akin to a war much like Comiket. Therefore like every good soldier you need to do some force preparation.

  • Put on the deodorant
    Now AFA is going to be a crowded event. You may think that it is cool in climate controlled Singapore but when the masses come in and the humidity goes up, your sweat will start sticking. This goes doubly true for the bigger sized among us. No offence but you just tend to sweat and smell more. The only solution: put on the D.O and/or antiperspirants. For those intending to partake in high intensity activities such as but not limited to otagei, cheering on your favourite singers or low angle photography, a towel is also advisable
  • Dress comfortably
    As somebody who emphasizes not signalling you are a nerd out in public I actually approve dressing up in your anime T-shirt on this day. The location is no longer in the middle of the town area of Singapore but the idyllic east side of Singapore. So it’s time to bust out your favourite Saber T-shirts. Their soft cotton will be comfortable and keep you relatively warm. Don’t forget your bag! Yes you may look like an otaku, but you already are one and nobody on the MRT wants to see all the Gunpla and naughty artwork you just bought.  So for the love of Miku, bring a backpack.
    Shoes are of utmost importance too. I don’t care whether you wear sneakers or loafers but make sure they won’t hurt or cause blisters. Running shoes are acceptable as long as you don’t look like you just booked out of Palau Tekong. Function over form has its limits.
  • Be sufficiently hydrated
    Sweet drinks will be sold at AFA, considering the map layout but you can bet your socks off it will be exorbitantly expensive. The more luxurious among us can head over to the Maid or Buttler cafe but for the rest of us peons, it is best to bring the best hydrating solution known to man: plain water. You do have your bag with you don’t you? You will regret it when you start pissing solid urea
  • Charge your electronic devices
    It is the photographer’s nightmare: your thousand dollar DSLR just can’t take photos anymore. Don’t let it happen to you
  • Bring a friend, or a few
    You will be tackling many booths, events and cosplayers at the same time. Provided you have a time-space tunnel ala Ichigo or some kind of crazy ninjutsu being in a group is a better strategy. You would have learnt this in army if you weren’t some chao geng kia and OOCed out of BMT.Now for some more specific advice.Being a gentleman of good taste there are some booths you should avoid as far as possible:
  • King Records
    They have been sponsoring many good anime but they are also home to AKB48. Sony Music should also be avoided for this reason as well.
  • The Axis of Evil
    Right after you enter the convention hall you will be greeted with the worst combination of any sort in a convention: Vanguard, Sword Art Online and Odex. Vanguard and SAO are just silly flavour of the years, populist shit appealing to your 15year olds who think these “cool” trends justify their nerdiness. They don’t.
  • KKNM
    A treasure trove of a shop but don’t queue up for whatever limited edition items they have, unless you want to spend your day just standing in a queue. Though it appears to be a prime otaku hobby.
  • Those Taiwan booths
    Less than legal merchandise and goods that look shoddy. I will at least support the local shops hawking their wares.
Posted in anime, blog, real life | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Yoshiwara Lament lyrics translation

I will gladly buy her, no please let me buy her!

The singer is quite obviously a courtesan as Yoshiwara was the redlight district of pre-war Japan. Low ranked ones were displayed behind grilles, exactly like bird cages. Higher ranked ones, known as Oiran serve in similar purpose as modern social escorts.

Edo is once again covered
by a deep veil of darkness today.
Facing the mirror, putting on lipstick
Complying with, receiving everything

The orange flower which shone
I admired and desired.
Before I knew it, I was a blue flower
Even so, I’m not cheap.

What I really wanted was to bloom for one person
Fate stole my freedom and carried on spinning its gears

A love full of lies
Followed by hugging me
Acting almost if it could feel grief
It’s raining in Yoshiwara today.

Sir would you somehow
buy me please
The bouquets of umbrellas start to bloom
Drenched, I’m raining

The noise of the hustle and bustle
start to crowd together and tangle
My wish is to somehow, someday
Get brought out of this bird cage

Frankly having no place to go
The scenery I see from my cage
will even heal me one day

A love full of lies
And then you buy me right?
The flower petals that
fall in my drenched heart is raining.

Sir please throughout the night
Flirt with me and
The stains of desire,
Slowly stick them into my heart

The flower tinged with sadness
Wishes for an end.

Welcome please come in

On this night we act as lovers
Making me moan “a-ah”
Acting almost if it could feel grief
It’s raining in Yoshiwara today.

A love of lies
Then you hug me right?
Acting almost if it could feel grief
It’s raining in Yoshiwara today.

Sir would you somehow
buy me please
The bouquets of umbrellas start to bloom
Drenched, I’m raining

Posted in Lyrics, vocaloid | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The K-on!! movie

Just watched the K-on movie through less than scrupulous means. I would spoil you but there’s not much to spoil.  The movie is the light music club being the light music club with language barrier jokes and the sights and sounds of London. It is also exceedingly well animated, even with the usage of CGI. As it might be described in Japanese the animation is 無駄にハイクオリティ(wastefully high quality).  Most of the movie felt like an episode of the series without detracting the silver screen sheen. Comedic timing is spot-on. Cute moments aplenty. Insert songs are catchy. K-on the movie is probably the perfect 空気系(slice-of-life) anime.

The London Eye is a prominent landmark in all the beautiful London scenery. Taken from accidentallylondon.com

Azusa also featured heavily in the movie. It follows how S2 seems to be the light music club from Azusa’s perspective(although there were focus episodes for all the members). The staff are not subtle in bringing out the point: The relationship between Yui and Azusa. Some people have a vocal dislike for Azusa, however,  I do think she’s important and especially endearing for me, because I’ve always known K-on as a 5 member team. More on this some other time.

However I think the movie gave me a slightly bad aftertaste after the sweetness, like the kind one might get drinking Coca-cola light. The plot progresses mainly on “what we should get Azusa” which evolves to “the perfect lyrics for the song”. However I didn’t feel much tension or heart wrenching. I do understand that a non-story is part of the SoL genre, yet I still felt something was lacking in the ending. Or rather, I felt the movie could have ended earlier. The ending bits feel a tad superfluous. It’s basically a rehash of the last episode. It was only required to wrap up the whole thing. To me, it kinda felt just like something they had to put in and round up the whole kouhai-senpai theme.

In the end though, it’s still a decent movie. But are Londoners really that friendly I wonder?

Posted in anime | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Bakemonogatari: An opinion

So in my spare time I read the translated light novel of Bakemonogatari(or at least what Baka-tsuki has). Despite what Shaft might want you to believe, it isn’t all about being pretentiously smart or artsy. Or it could just be the Japanese puns flying over my head. Really, it won’t make anybody but a Japanese guy with a decent knowledge of anime feel smart.

To add on, Bakemonogatari(henceforth Bakemono) is really about the romance between Senjouhara Hitagi and Araragi Koyomi. While this should be too obvious to state, I guess most people forget about it. Each supernatural encounter has a theme and they tie in with the teenage romance of the two with adolescent troubles. The supernatural touch drives the plot, keeping the reader guessing and works as a metaphor.

Image

While I can’t comment further than Mayoi Snail, the first two arcs exemplify the point. In the first, Hitagi is troubled by her parents’ divorce because she thinks it is her fault. This is not an uncommon theme and is a widely encountered familial issue. Whether or not the crab took her weight does not matter. Araragi could have still discovered her secret, leading to his very painful discovery that Hitagi carries stationary for self-defense.

Image

Likewise, Mayoi is just a shared hallucination by people who don’t want to go home if you take out the supernatural portion. But then, the novel would be just another teen romance addled with slightly crazy characters and an ordinary setting.  What Nisio has managed to accomplish is write a very ordinary story in an extraordinary setting without giving the fact that it’s ordinary away. Throw in anime references here and there and you have the perfect book for teenagers and nerds.

This is mainly targeted at the story of Bakemono because Shaft tends to be distracting just because it’s Shaft. If there is something that should be added, much of the dialogue and story they decided to stuff inside their infamous scene cuts are actually important but were probably decided to be not entertaining enough. Thus the story’s flow seems to be disjointed and focused solely on the more risque or satirical portions. Flaws like this can only be attributed to Shaft’s adaptation, though they did do well on the choice of voice casting. I really can’t imagine Emiri Katou not being Hachikuji Mayoi for example.

If you’ve continued reading until this point and have been wondering what the hell I’ve been trying to say-This is just a collection of points for Bakemono that most people seem not to discuss and I feel that are important for its critique and enjoyment. Of course you can get by with Renai circulation and koyomi-niisan (It’s what made me continue watching in the first place) but a better appreciation of building of its world will definitely enhance the experience. And hey, if you don’t like it the sales actually enable Shaft to have money to make Arakawa under the bridge and Madoka magica, both great series to many.

Posted in anime, blog | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Beautiful Sanya cosplay

I don’t know who the cosplayer and photographer are, but kudos to them for doing such a superb job with one the characters from my favorite series.

Image

I love this particular one very much. The composition is something you rarely see in cosplay photography, which would usually have straightforward shots of the cosplayer and her costume. The upside down figure also, in my opinion draws attention away to the face which is often the first thing the viewer notices. In this way, the focus is drawn on to the faithfully recreated costume.

Image

She even took the effort to make Sanya’s signature weapon, the Fliegerhammer too.

All in all, a beautiful cosplay and shoot.

Posted in anime, cosplay | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Aniblogs

Seriously, do people still follow aniblogs now? It seems that blogs are no longer the primary source of news/discussion now. Personally at least, the main places of discussion are 4chan and twitter, where short snippets are thrown around and links are shared. The major blogs I used to read are mostly ruins now, with the exception of Karmaburn. Though it did went inactive for a few times(explained as epiphanies) it has never gone down. One of the first blogs I’ve read, Darkmirage has but all been whittled down by that beast called University. Even RIUVA, a powerhouse with a host of writers has been derelict since mid-2011.

There are still many anime blogs out there, but they are mostly of the weekly review genre and I have never been a fan of those. Even my personal attempt at writing one now quickly stopped. Anime, is in my opinion, fast and cheap entertainment along the likes of a meal at Subway. Hence, weekly reviews never really hooked me in. What I did like were editorial style reviews, snappy troll bait and articles interspersed with pictures hauled from boorus. No surprises then, that this is what my little corner has settled on.

Like I’ve said, twitter and chans are where I go now, and news can be quickly accessed through word of mouth. Centralised places of discussion like forums and blogs almost seem outdated. Blog writing, it seems, has competition in facebook status updates or even their notes functions. Perhaps blogs will one day go the way of books, seen as stuffy academic places or underground journalism.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Humikane 2012

Nothing is more admirable than a man who can do what he loves everyday.

The time has come, gentlemen. The time has come for a man to be made famous among all of nerd-dom for reaching the pinnacle of loving the arts and providing even more in return.

Every day, girls between the ages of 12 and 19 are drawn by a person with a deft hand and a thought for cuteness. These beautiful girls are first spread through Twitter, then through imageboards, forums and boorus. Yet, even though many lonely otaku view these drawings as their soul mates for life, few know of the creator of these heavenly beings. Perhaps they just do not care who gave birth to these personalities that have capture their heart.

One of the many angels created by Humikane

However this is not just a man who draws for mere profit or glory. This is a man who loves what he does. He loves young girls. He loves history. And he loves mecha.

An early work of Humikane, showing how he has started to master the blend of his two loves

From his twitter, https://twitter.com/#!/humikane it has been observed that Humikane enjoys the mecha genre: Gundam, Rockman, Super Sentai are all works mentioned by him.  It is not just this love of mecha, but of sci-fi and guns. Humikane has played Red Dead Redemption, Mass Effect 3 and Gears of Wars. He has watched Legend of the Galactic Heroes. This is a man with sci-fi in his blood. It runs rich and red.

Humikane’s most famous creation is probably the Strike Witches franchise. An alternate universe in which historical ace pilots have been remolded as young girls fighting against an alien invasion. Again the care and research shows. Many a history trivia has been included in the anime and also, the many short stories Humikane have written. It is made evident, implicitly and explicitly that he has read many of the memoirs and biographies of these war heroes. He does not trod on the memories of these by-gone heroes(except for Charles Yeager who is still very much alive as of writing) but reinvigorates them in the form of attractive females.

Strike Witches, probably the poster child for Humikane's works

The strike witches concept came from a previous franchise created by Humikane, mecha musume(lit. mecha girls). He has also done design work for Konami’s Busou Shinki line of action figures, which similarly combine cute girls and the mecha genre. Lastly, he also did the character design of Sky Girls. This is a creator not afraid of sowing his seeds far and wide.

Even if you are not a fan of his works, or the genres he specializes in, you need to admire him for his steadfastness and passion. He represents what all men and geeks should strive for, the love of a subject and the drive to pursue it. Hobbies need not be mere hobbies, but can even be your livelihood.

Here’s to Humikane. Spread the word.

Posted in anime, blog | Tagged , | Leave a comment