Video review of the anime series Guilty Crown by BakaShift, a friend of mine - enjoy!2 months ago
A quick nod of appreciation to the original Birdy the Mighty, back in the day when ‘girls and guns’ anime were cool. Bring it all back, I say!
3 months ago
My partner and I were given some anime cels but we're having a bit of difficulty identifying them!4 months ago
My partner and I were given some anime cels but we're having a bit of difficulty identifying them!4 months ago
- Experiencing Evangelion for real at Evangelion World: The imminent release of the third Rebuild of Evangelion film, 3.0 (Quickening), has reminded me that… 9 months ago
Experiencing Evangelion for real at Evangelion World
The imminent release of the third Rebuild of Evangelion film, 3.0 (Quickening), has reminded me that I haven't yet blogged about the awesome experience my partner and I had visiting Evangelion World in May 2011. Evangelion World is part the Fuji-Q theme park located near Mount Fuji in Japan and hosts an array of exhibits dedicated to the Evangelion films and franchise. Our visit coincided with the recent opening of 'The Beast' exhibit at Evangelion World, making it even more worthwhile.
First up is this scale model of Evangelion Unit 01. It's pretty large but it's not the largest exhibit that Evangelion World has to offer!
Even if you're not some kind of control-freak running a secretive organisation with ulterior motives, you can still recreate Gendo's trademark pose in the Room of Seele.
A full-scale Entry Plug cockpit is also present and if you're willing to pay the additional ¥1000 charge you can have your picture taken here as well. You get the pilot's head clips to wear but you can only choose between clips for Asuka, Rei or Shinji - you're out of luck if you prefer Mari.
Tucked in the corner is a life-size Asuka mannequin - it feels surprising how short the characters are in real life, even with them only being aged 14 in the films.
Whoever thought the A.T. field couldn't actually be real...?
This room in Evangelion World had displays for each of the characters with scenes from the film, concept sketches and even recreations of the character's props such as the doll that Asuka carries with her.
The Evangelion series and films take place in locations that exist in the real world - on this map you can see exactly where the events take place in relation to each other.
Evangelion Unit 02 and it's pilot, Asuka Langley Shikinami, arrive! (with no risk of being tripped up)
You can't size up against Rei or Shinji here, but there are also life-size mannequins of Kaworu and Mari. Kaworu really is short - shorter even than Asuka. In comparison, Mari is quite tall - and, err, well-developed...
"The Beast" is the second of Evangelion World's biggest exhibits - a 1:1 scale replica of the scene in Evangelion 2.0 where Unit 2 has collapsed into a building after having fought against and been defeated by the 10th Angel, Zeruel. It's accompanied by rousing music from the film, lighting effects and footage of the battle against Zeruel from the second Rebuild of Evangelion film.
Interlinking the rooms for The Beast and Unit 01 is a corridor that's made to look like the Nerv base.
If you like awkward silences, try taking this elevator for a few minutes. If you come out angry and shouting, you're an Asuka-type. If you come out quiet and condescending, you're a Rei-type.
Whilst you're walking through the Nerv corridor, taking a peek through the spy-holes rewards you with some of the scenes from the films.
Evangelion World's biggest feature is the life-size Eva Unit 01, restrained and at standby. It's well-detailed and speaks for itself really!
Every 10 minutes or so the Eva Unit 01 exhibit is subject to a dramatic display of lighting, smoke, music and sound effects recreating the activation of Unit 01.
If you consider yourself a true Evangelion fan and are heading out to Japan, then I would definitely recommend making the extra effort to get to Fuji-Q Highland and Evangelion World. Not only that, there is also merchandise exclusive to Evangelion World that you will get nowhere else!
Amecon 2012 Review
My partner and I were keen to go to a more established convention in the hope that we'd be attending a higher quality convention. We'd also heard positive comments about Amecon from friends and we decided that Amecon would be our convention for 2012.
Amecon 2012 was my first convention for quite some time and out of all the conventions I've been to it's the longest running.
Although the registration cost was more expensive than some conventions, realistically it's not much more expensive and it is worth the money. I can't comment on on-site accommodation; as there were no double rooms available my partner and I choose to stay at a nearby hotel - which worked out cheaper than if we had both got on-site single rooms.
In terms of transport, Amecon catered well for attendees. There was a shuttle bus running between the convention and local train station, as well as an on-site shuttle bus to carry people around. We didn't need to make use of these though as we had a car; luckily for us there was plenty of parking in very close proximity and, thanks to the Amecon parking passes, it was free. And... sign-posted!
We turned up on the Friday morning at about 11:00, thinking that with over 1000 people attending we'd be stuck in some pretty long queues. In fact, it wasn't anything like that - there were more gophers handling registration and accommodation than there were actually registering! I'm not complaining though and I was pleased with the speed we were processed. The conbag had the usual stuff in it, although there weren't any really cool promotional goodies in there - either there were limited supplies or companies just haven't been able to be as generous with the recession and everything.
Registering early gave us a good opportunity for a picnic and to enjoy the sunshine, before exploring a bit. As there wasn't much going on that we were interested in, we hunted down the Western karaoke. It was a bit hard to find as the conbook didn't have a map of the Student Union but with a bit of exploring found it through the Scruffy Squirrel and K2. The karaoke was a pretty simple affair with a bunch of karaoke video CDs and a karaoke player, unattended in a little room by itself. It's hard to say how to make it better but I guess the experience of using karaoke machines in Japan raised our expectations a bit!
We bumped into a couple of friends on the way out of the karaoke and chilled in the Scruffy Squirrel for a bit (enjoying the super-cheap soft drinks!) before heading out to supply the Bring & Buy with our goodies to sell. I was impressed by how professionally the gophers handled the check-in process, having opening early and providing a good display for the figure section.
After killing a bit more time, we dutifully attended the opening ceremony - somehow scaring off everybody else from sitting in front of us! On the up-side though, it meant a great view! We were saddened to hear in the ceremony that the only event cancelled was the Rock Out which we had really been looking forward to.
After the ceremony we thought we'd go to the Icebreaker as it had been a while since my partner and I had been to a convention and we wanted to make some more friends as we weren't sure how many people we knew would be at Amecon. Sadly, it was late, not organised in advance and after waiting a while for anything to happen decided to escape to the temptations of the Tofu Cute panel!
It seems like we weren't the only ones who had sweets on our mind - the Tofu Cute panel room was full to the brim and I was surprised we all managed to get in! Supply just about met demand, with some careful handing out of what sweets they did have. Although technical problems delayed things a bit, the panel was enjoyable. It should have really been a water tasting panel as well though as the room was really warm and humid!
Moving onto the evening entertainment, the Japanese karaoke ran a little late for testing. At the beginning there weren't enough chairs and good places for everybody to sit; I noticed later folding chairs were added to help. Singers had their back to audience due to the screen setup, possibly easier on their confidence but not so good for audience. I had a go at the opening of The Big O, which wasn't as pleasant for the audience as my partner's rendition of Melodies of Life from Final Fantasy IX. After that and a little bit of partying at the AMV disco, we headed back for the night.
Starting nice and early on the Saturday, our first destination was the Bring & Buy. Both the Bring & Buy and the Dealers Room had big queues. Upon making it into the room, the Bring & Buy had plenty of stuff for sale - especially a lot of manga, people seemed to be having big clear outs of it. It was good to see plenty of other stuff too, as we're big fans of merchandise.
The Dealers Room was massive - not surprising as it was in a hall - but strangely it felt like there wasn't much 'must have' stuff. Of course we did pick up some stuff in the end but it took a little while to decide what we wanted. I think it didn't help that there haven't been any wildly popular series out recently like Code Geass or Haruhi, which had lots of good merchandise at the peak of their popularity.
Owing to the queues and the amount of stuff to look at, we ended up over-running and missing the Cel Painting Workshop we were planning on going to - but we suspect if it was like the Tofu Cute panel then it may have been too busy. Instead we decided to go to Akemi Solloway's Tea Ceremony & Bushido Panel which was very interesting but often strayed from tea and the code of Japanese warriors! I was amazed and pleased to see such a quiet and attentive audience. Sadly, those expecting to try some Japanese tea will have been disappointed as there wasn't any facility to make tea. By the way, if you were hanging around the games room after Akemi's panel, you may have seen a certain Gendo Ikari cosplayer melting whilst playing DDR... this has now become known as "the Gendo Shuffle"!
Whilst the Masquerade was on, there wasn't much else to do. It's likely that the number of people attending the Masquerade and the resource required to run it meant that having other events at the same time wouldn't have been practical. Still, it would have been nice to have a good alternative for those of us that weren't as interested That said, I was glad I got to see the Warhammer 40K Space Marine cosplay. I used to play the game when I was younger and seeing how well the costume was made was really something.
We hung around and watched the Amecon Auction, more for entertainment than to bid. There were some crazy prices and whilst it was for a meaningful cause, I couldn't help but feel that it got lost among all the excitement and ego. After the Auction it was time to change and party, and didn't we just party! The music and atmosphere was pretty awesome and even enjoyed joining in the rave.
Of course, when you're raving until late it's hard to get going the next morning - unless you have a panel at 9am that you want to go to! This was the "How to Itasha your car" panel and I'm really glad that we made it just in time. I've been thinking for some time about giving my car the Itasha treatment for some time and I picked up some really useful information and advice that you can only get from someone who's done it themselves!
Not keeping an eye on the time meant missing out on the Dai-Old School panel but we managed to fill up some of the rest of the morning revisiting the Bring & Buy and the Dealers Room. We also dropped in on the Fighting Talk panel which was quite interesting and entertaining to hear the panel's on-the-spot answers. I'd just like to add we booed at the suggestion that Evangelion would make a great live-action film - it would be sacrilege to the original!
As with the Masquerade, there wasn't much else on at same time as the Omake was and relaxing in the Chill Bar ended up being the best option. That said, the music in there needed to be quieter to make it more comfortable. After a little while it was time to collect the money and unsold stuff from our contribution to the Bring & Buy. Apart from a missing DVD, the gophers handled us well and we walked away happy with the amount that we'd been able to sell.
After going to the effort of dressing up for the evening's Ball, we ended up deciding it wasn't really our scene and skipping out on it. The End of Amecon Party though was definitely our scene and had a brilliant time enjoying all the classics - including Agadoo!
We're glad to be able to say that we enjoyed Amecon and it's fired our spirits to attend a convention in 2013 as well. Although Amecon itself is taking a break for in 2013, it will return in 2014 and is worth making a note of in your calendars! Thanks go to the people that made Amecon happen and even bigger thanks goes to our friends, without whom it wouldn't have been half as fun. You know who you are!
WonFes Wishlist 2012 Summer
Another summer and another WonFes (Wonder Festival) has come and gone. If you're not sure of what WonFes is, have a peek at my coverage of WonFes 2010 Summer where my partner and I were fortunate enough to attend. This year it's back to browsing the latest figures and garage kits online - so here's my top 10 wishlist from what I've been able to find!
At 10 - Kuroyukihime from Accel World Garage Kit
I haven't seen Accel World and neither am I likely to get round to doing so - but that doesn't stop me really liking this intricate and show-stopping garage kit of the main character.
At 9 - Takamura Yui from Muv-Luv - Total Eclipse Nendoroid
Source: Good Smile Company
If you follow my blog, you'll probably know that I'm a big fan of Nendoroids. I'm also a big fan of Kimi Ga Nozomu Eien (Rumbling Hearts in the US/UK release), originally an eroge published by Age. Another of their franchises is Muv-Luv which has recently had it's own anime aired. As such, the merchandise machine is working away and this Nendoroid is one of the figures that will be available - and probably in my collection as well!
At 8 - Tekken Figure by Kotobukiya
I'm not normally a fan of the more life-like figures as I tend to find the faces and proportions end up strange. There's no failure of that here though - and because I think it's rare for me to find a realistic figure that I don't hate, it's gone in the wishlist. That is the only reason, of course...
At 7 - Unknown Garage Kit
Obviously inspired by the 'World is Mine' Hatsune Miku figure, this garage kit caught my eye. I particularly like the autumnal detailing and the maple leaves on the base, adding richness and depth to the end result.
At 6 - AZPR EvBoard
PCB boards might not be what you would normally expect to find at WonFes, but here's a really innovative spin on an otherwise fairly dry hobby. The board itself appears to be a form of microprocessor project board in the vein of Arduino. If you're interested in finding out more and can read lots of Japanese easily, check out http://respon.org/ for more information. Alternatively, dig out the old CAD software and have a go!
At 5 - Eila Ilmatar Juutilainen from Strike Witches Magnet Figure
Being an avid figure collector means having to find room for lots and lots of figures, room that often isn't there! I've come across sculpted anime fridge magnets but this figure takes it a step further. All that remains is to find a suitable area on the glass cabinet and stick her on either side of it!
At 4 - Kyoko Sakura from Puella Magi Madoka Magica Garage Kit
I was really impressed by the series Puella Magi Madoka Magica and equally as impressive is this super detailed garage kit of Kyoko fighting. This is the kind of figure that makes a centerpiece for a collection and if it ever gets picked up by a manufacturer I would happily have it on my wishlist.
At 3 - Erica Hartmann from Strike Witches Nendoroid
Source: Good Smile Company
You may have been wondering with me being such a big Nendoroid fan where all the Nendoroids on my wishlist were - well, the disappointment ends here! I'm planning on getting all the Strike Witches Nendoroids and with Erica announced, it's another one that's on the wishlist!
At 2 - Hakase (aka The Professor) from Nichijou Nendoroid
Source: Good Smile Company
The last Nendoroid in my wishlist is the Professor from Nichijou, complete with Sakamoto! The pair reeks such complete and utter cuteness that I would use the cliche of 'moe', which use only when it is necessary, without any hesitation!
At 1 - Eila Ilmatar Juutilainen x Sanya V. Litvyak from Strike Witches Garage Kit
You may be surprised that I haven't picked a Nendoroid or a commercially available figure for my number one spot. However, there's just something wonderful cute and heart-warming about this double garage kit of Eila and Sanya wrapped up in winter jackets and clinging to each other. It's also refreshing to see Strike Witches garage kits that don't focus on service. The quality of the sculpting looks to be good and suits the characters well. As such, I would love to have this in my collection!
Well, that's the end of my list; I won't be getting everything but if I had the choice, money and time then these would be the figures and garage kits!
J-List 2012 Fukubukuro Review
For some bizarre and unknown reason, I'd never heard of the 'fukubukuro', mystery bags that are a popular tradition with Japanese retailers around the New Year, until this year! Out of curiosity my partner and I decided to go halves and get one from one of the most popular online stores of Japanese novelty goods, J-List.
We picked the 'Anime Toy 2' fukubukuro which, including shipping, set us back about £60 between us. Sure enough, it arrived and we quickly delved in to see what treasures might await us! In total, we got:
- A Studio Ghibli 80 piece jigsaw puzzle and frame based on Laputa: Castle in the Sky
- A Monster Hunter cat mascot charm strap
- Two Petit Nendoroids from Toaru Kagaku no Railgun
- A rubber charm strap from Toaru Kagaku no Railgun
- A Hello Kitty china figure
- An Evangelion D-Grip pen
- Two MobileFortune Gundam models
- A Leiji Matsumoto Arms Selection model
- A Pokemon Black and White Gashapon
- AStar Wars spaceship model
- A Tutor Hitman Reborn! Calendario 2012 pencil board, folder and sticker set
- A strange stress ball
- A One Piece jigsaw puzzle that actually has 150 pieces...
- A Yoshimoto trading figure
- A Hades Project Zeorymer trading figure
- An Ultraman trading figure
- A Kamen Rider Spirits trading figure
- A very large and terrifying Meiji money box
MySaver and the Kickstarter Experience
The mySaver is an add-on for Apple USB to dock connectors that aims to prevent the problem of cables fraying and breaking by protecting the ends of the cables. This is done by a combination of a metal plug cover and a colour-coded semi-transparent rubber cable cover. The mySaver can be bought either as a kit to fit to your existing cables or as pre-assembled onto an OEM-quality cable.
The difference with this is that I didn't technically buy it. I backed the mySaver project at the concept stage on Kickstarter, a site that helps people and organisations secure funding for activities and projects, and as a result I could choose a reward - in this case, the finished product.
I choose to have a pre-assembled cable as my reward. The mySaver is well fitted. The only negative point is that there was some excess glue left in the slot of the USB cover, resulting in the slot not gripping the cable very well. A little bit of careful trimming with a scalpel could fix that though.
Overall the finish of the final product is good. The aluminium shotblast-effect metallic plug covers are a good match for Apple products. There are some visible horizontal lines on mine but this is only minor. Also, I would have preferred the coloured rubber to be opaque, as originally designed, rather than semi-transparent.
Functionally the USB plug is a good fit and the docking connector is a little on the tight side but works fine.
A feature of the mySaver is that there is a small slot in the USB cover to allow the cable to be slotted in, so that the ends don't get tangled when travelling. This is a great idea if you're just using the cable by itself. If you plan to leave the cable plugged into a USB charger though, there isn't enough clearance to use this slot.
Also, the extended size of the USB plug to accommodate the slot means that it can obscure other ports when plugged into a computer. On an 13" Macbook Pro, it will prevent either the SD card slot or the other USB slot from being used.
Moving away from the end product, the experience with Kickstarter itself was quite positive. In backing a project, your money is pledged but not actually taken until the project has reached it's target amount. This means that you don't actually pay until the project is ready to go. The only downside is that you have to remember you have pledged the money and may need to pay it at any time!
There were plenty of updates from the project and although it was delayed, the communication helped to reassure that it wasn't unjustified. Being a backer also means that you can contribute your ideas and potentially influence the final product.
Being involved with Kickstarter has been an interesting process although I think it is unlikely I will find anything else I wish to back at the present time. Still, it's an innovative way of raising funding for projects and worth keeping an eye on in the future.