Tuesday, June 16, 2009

ANIME NORTH 2009: PHOTO STORM Part 4

I took a lot more pictures than I thought this year...

ANIMENORTH Photo Storm Part 4

Zero from the MEGA MAN ZERO series. I swear this guy looked super cool from, like, 20 feet away...

SPEED RACER if they had cast Seth Rogan. It would have been a VERY different movie. VERY different. O_O This guy couldn't look less like Speed Racer.

It's the Bunny Girl! Bunny Girl was at my first AN (working for the Beguiling), and at almost ever one from then on, except for last year. She's put on a little weight, but still looks good. Also, SHE macked Eric Kim... unbelievable!

It's the FINAL FANTASY: ADVENT CHILDREN crew. These guys actually look pretty good. Zack's creepy dead eyes scare the shit out of me though. Brian Harvey had a serious problem with these kids huge fucking swords though... like, conceptually. He just didn't think they were practical, and I suppose they aren't. But MAN do they look cool!

It's the WORLD WARRIORS of STREET FIGHTER! Cammy, Guile, Fei Long, and Ryu Hayabusa! This was actually a pretty impressive and accurate lot... until you get to White Heavy-Set Ryu, who shatters an otherwise perfect illusion. Still, you have to admire their professionalism. They had a whole spiel worked out... especially Guile; that guy went the distance.

Another GUILTY GEAR character, May. She is (A) on model (B) ethnically accurate (I think... I can never tell when anime characters are NOT supposed to be Japanese) and (C) adorable. It's a cosplay hattrick! Also you can see Peter hustling his wares in the background. Peter is a pretty good hustler.

More GURREN LAGANN. The Enki is pretty solid, but that was probably the least impressive Yoko of the weekend. It's the lame shoes that break the illusion.

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! Ok... technically this guy is awesome, but once again, he's at totally the wrong show. To the people of ANIME NORTH, this guy is the Tom Baker Doctor; the BEST Doctor; this is just some guy with a really weird sense of style. I'm assuming a lot of people just thought that he dressed like this, like, all the time, to stand out from the highschool crowd. Sorry Tom Baker Doctor; NO PUSSY FOR YOU!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Link Blogging: GIANT ROBOT DEFENDS JAPAN? WHO WOULDA SEEN THAT COMING?

(Picture chosen to emphasis scale)

I can barely express how much cooler and more practical this is than the Statue of Liberty. Let's face it... New York is completely fucked should it ever be attacked by either giant monsters or the Federation of Zeon, while Japan has taken steps to ensue the safety of it's citizens against both.

More pictures here: http://www.sankakucomplex.com/2009/06/10/life-size-gundam-rx-78-2-completed/

And for (Japanese) information on the project as well as pictures of the construction of this mighty Titan of Gundanium-Plated Justice: http://www.gundam30th.net/event/real-g.html

Good GOD. Why is Japan so much more awesome than anywhere else in the world!?!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

ANIME NORTH 2009: PHOTO STORM Part 3

The ANIME NORTH 2009 Photo Storm continues...

A pretty solid Chun-Li... if you ignore the lack of Asian-ness. I'm always a little unclear on the etiquette of cosplaying as a character of a specific ethnicity. Most characters in anime are of questionable ethnic background as most are either entirely fantasy based, or their character designs are as such that you cannot determine a specific background (even the though a lot of anime takes place in Japan, no one ever looks specifically Japanese unless they're designed by Katsuhiro Otomo or Mamoru Oshii, :B), but a character like Chun-Li, or in fact all characters from STREET FIGHTER are pretty much defined by their nationality. I guess, in the end, it's all just good fun as long as you don't tape your eyes back and do it up like some horrible '40-'50's stereotype. MAN were they racist back then...

GUN-DAMN, what a cool helmet! I would have loved that back when I played hockey, yo! Then I'd have run through those big bastards from Stroud like they they were dirty Zeon Zaku's, WHAT! Seriously, that is a cool helmut. I just wish the guy had put that effort into the rest of his rather lame costume... that tee-shirt and badge combo are fucking WEAK, guy.

Digimon. Digimon. Di-Di-Di-Digimon. DIGIMON, DIGITAL MONSTERS, DIGIMON ARE THE CHAMP-YONS. DIGIMON was so sick back in the '90's, and I cannot express how much fucking better than POKEMON that show was. In fact, FUCK POKEMON.

The great thing about DIGIMON was that, as fun and kid-centric as the show was, it was also able to go super dark, dealing with themes of lose, tragedy, and even death, all within a serialize storyline; particularly in my favorite DIGIMON series, SAVERS (though FRONTIER had the best english opening). A fun show perfectly safe for children, with some nice animation (later) and some great character designs, and all without having to pander (much... FOX really fucked around with the dub).

DAI-GURREN Girl. This is probably the most clever costume I've ever seen... just a genius way of using the mechnical design to your advantage.

GANKUTSUOU: THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO. I-I have no idea what the fuck this has to do with THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO... I seriously have no idea.

Another Haruhi in her ENOZ outfit, but this one actually had a guitar, which was pretty awesome. Should couldn't play GOD KNOWS though.

HOLY SHIT, SON! WHAT THE FUCK IS SPIDER JERUSALEM DOING HERE? Despite that dude being totally on model and in character... the coolness of his costume was fucking LOST... on EVERYONE. So, ha ha, FUCK YOU SPIDER, you can't get pussy at an anime convention cosplaying as a Warren Ellis character. Try Naruto next time. Naruto is the ANIME NORTH pussy magnet.

Speaking of ANIME NORTH pussy magnets... how the FUCK did this guy mack three asian maids? He's not even dressed up as Naruto! That's just senseless. ANIME NORTH man... fucking ANIME NORTH.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

ANIME NORTH 2009: PHOTO STORM Part 2

ANIME NORTH 2009 PHOTO STORM part 2

Since the modern anime-kids have no fucking taste, any shows or manga I actually like are usually unpopular. Like BURST ANGEL for instance... yet every year, I always see at least one person cosplaying as either Jo (above) or Meg, which is encouraging. This costume was actually pretty on model too. People have been upping their game every year since this shit start.

I actually don't know who she's supposed to be... Amanda got really excited and started poking me and whisper, "Sexy girl! Sexy girl!" and prompting me to take a picture. It wasn't the first time one of the Beguiling Girls got all excited about a sexy cosplay girl that weekend, which was indescribably hot.

Ha ha ha! One of the things I like to do is catch people being out of character while in costume... sometimes it's sort of 'blah' and sometimes it's pure GOLD! This was pure gold! My favorite POWER RANGER (Zack is still the hippest Black Ranger of all time, bar none) just reading a book, I like the reactions of the people around him too. They're all like, "Man, this is FUCKED UP." His costume was fucking awesome too. There was a really good Red Ranger walking around as well, but I didn't get a picture of him. I like that the old school is making a comeback at AN. I fucking LOVE POWER RANGERS, yo. It was like SAVED BY THE BELL with ASS KICKING... the only thing that could have made SAVED BY THE BELL in any way watchable.

This was a weird one I never thought I'd see at AN (once again, because it was from a show I like), Yurine from KARAS, which is, like, the best 'Henshin' (transforming) hero saga to come out in years. It was an awesome combination of The Crow/Ghostbusters/Kamen Rider. This was another really well done costume from an obscure series that I was pretty sure only had appeal for me... and I was once again proven wrong.

Is this dude ready to kill some fucking Zombies or what? He looks like he could get a part-time job working for COBRA if he's not making enough money at the UMBRELLA CORPERATION.

Another obscure series that I'm surprised people still like, a pretty solid looking Sol Badguy and Dizzy from GUILTY GEAR X, one of my favorite 2-D fighting games that's not STREET FIGHTER. It's like STREET FIGHTER is it was conceived by DethKlok.

Rock Star Haruhi, sans-guitar. It think this costume is actually based on a toy, as she at no point wears this in the series. LOTS of Haruhi this year, even moreso than last year. That is the one show I can agree on with this new generation of fandom as being worth adulation... it's just fucking GOOD. Like anime DOCTOR WHO meets DEGRASSI.


This is for you Jason Azzopardi! This is for you. And a little bit for me. I wouldn't be living up to my nickname if I didn't get a few pictures like this (which I did. :B). I have no idea who she's supposed to be.

Friday, June 5, 2009

ANIME NORTH 2009: PHOTO STORM Part 1

As with previous years, I once again took the on the 3 day retail marathon of fucked up that is Anime North.

Unlike previous years, load-in and setup went remarkably smoothly... even as under-staffed as we were, work was evenly and fairly distributed, and everything was good to go an hour before the show started. And, man oh man, WHAT a start! The economy may be shit everywhere else, but it had no effect on the retail tsunami of Anime North 2009! These kids, usually somewhat shrewd and reserved on the opening day, were ravenous for Manga and Anime merchandise of all kinds! It was hand over fist, non-stop, until shows end.

And it pretty much kept up like that all weekend.

And between taking nerds money, I got some pictures... since nothing really interesting or fucked up happened this year... COSPLAY PICTURES will tell my story!


I thought this guy was a KAMEN RIDER, but he was actually one of the Seekers from KINGDOM HEARTS III: BIRTH BY SLEEP (which I'm pretty sure isn't out yet). AWESOME either way.


There was a super weird trend this year of guys in costumes that were... just totally not applicable to Anime North. Such as... Doctor McNinja and a seriously creepy Frank from DONNIE DARKO. The significane of these costumes? LOST on these fucking kids. Heathens.

I think this was Captain Ron cosplaying as Captain Harlock.


The first Yoko of the con. Predictably, GURREN LAGANN hit BIG this year. The costumes were all very impressive, but the GUNS were insane!

Gothic Loli is still big too, apparently. Last year I couldn't sell the Gothic Loli Bibles to save my life, but this year Erik Kim sold EVERY... SINGLE... FUCKING... ONE. Crazy.


Ha ha ha! Jerry actually had me take this one... Wonder Woman is the only woman he would actually fuck, and this chick was as close to actual Wonder Woman as you can get. Actually, I think her costume is actually better than Linda Carters...

Also, I want that guys VENTURE BROS. shirt.
I used to have a huge nerd-crush on Sailor Mercury, who this girl looks nothing like.

CYBERSIX! Once again, even though this costume is TOTALLY APPLICABLE to Anime North, I'm assuming it was lost on everyone but me. -_- That show as sick as fuck.

DEREK HALLIDAY LIVES IT UP.

Just in case anyone doubted that Derek T. Halliday knows how to (A) take care of himself, and (B) live it up...


Marianted wild Atlantic salmon, flavored with a blend of herbs, garlic long grain and wild rice, with a garden salid, topped with grated mozerella and parmasan and garlic dressing, with a nice, cold, Bravia tall-boy to drink.

And in case you're curious about my entertainment setup...


I call it the "Tower of Triumph."

Life is SWEET at Halliday House. So... fucking... SWEET.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE - LIVE ACTION vs ANIME?

BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE is an early 2000 anime film produced by Production I.G. (the studio most famously behind GHOST IN THE SHELL and in all it's various incarnations, as well as other pretty fucking sick-ass anime, many of which are personal favorites of mine) based on a novel by popular anime director Mamoru Oshii (the guy behind PATLABOR1-3/GHOST IN THE SHELL/GiTS: INNOCENCE/JIN-ROH/SKYCRAWLERS/etc) about a serious 'young' girl with a perpetual scowl named Saya, who stalks and viciously murders the FUCK out of cool looking Vampire/Monsters called Chiropterans on an American Army base in Japan in the 1970's, a few months before Vietnam. Though only, like, an hour long, BLOOD was a seriously awesome and concise action movie that clearly defines the differences between North American and Japanese views on what animation can be used for. I recently found out that BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE has since been adapted to a live action film, produced by the guy that produced CROTCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, and directed by Ronny Yu, whose made a number of shitty movies in North America (WARRIORS OF VIRTUE, that kids movie about the kung-fu Kanjaroos, BRIDE OF CHUCKY, ugh, and FREDDY vs JASON, *vomit*), and a number of awesome kung-fu movies (BRIDE WITH WHITE HAIR and FEARLESS being the only ones I know personally).

BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE being adapted to live action doesn't come as much of a surprise to me; in fact it makes perfect sense. Despite the original source material being animated, the content of the film was nothing that couldn't be achieved in live action. Beyond that, unlike most anime BLOOD is much more accessible to a North American (and in fact, international) audience as it features an international cast and switches logically between English and Japanese dialogue depending on the background of the character and the necessity of it (BLOOD takes place in Japan, but is mostly set on an American army base). It also helps that Vampires are big in just about any culture. BLOOD is a slick action/thriller/sci-fi/period piece featuring a strong yet sexy, bad-ass, female lead fighting awesome looking monsters with a cool fucking sword; there is absolutely NO reason a movie like that would fail to find success in North America, or be inachivable when adapted to live action. So, just out of curiousity, I though I'd compare the two and see how they stack up.

BLOOD: ANIME TRAILER



BLOOD: LIVE ACTION TRAILER



Comparing the two trailers, I notice a lot of stuff in the live action trailer that seems to have been adapted directly from the original, such as the setting and overall plot, as well as some specific visual cues, but also a number of notable plot changes, such as the more mystical approach to the vampires rather than the animes more sci-fi slant (Chiropterans are a seperate species produced by a virus passed through fluid exchange), and the inclusion of a central villian in the form of 'Onigen', rather than the anime Saya's mandate to just genocide the shit out of the entire species. Also notable is the CYBERSIX-esque plot point that Saya needs to drink the blood of the 'Oni' to survive.

While I am somewhat nervous about these plot changes, I can't really say I find them offensive; to be fair, it'd be pointless to directly adapt an already successful film directly, not to mention that BLOOD was only like an hour long to begin with. Logically some changes would need to be made to pad out the narrative. It just bothers me that the changes made are so... done to fucking DEATH. Seriously? "She killed my FATHER!"? That's a little weak. But, like I said, non-offensive, just disappointingly weak and unoriginal. I still think this looks like an overall strong movie and a good stab at adapting an anime to live action for a North American audience... at the very least it's a far sight better than the fucking steaming pile that was DRAGONBALL: EVOLUTION. I am filled with indescribable RAGE at the thought of that movie.

I'm also impressed that the first five minutes of the movie are an almost shot for shot adaptation of the opening of the anime.

FIRST FIVE MINUTES



Overall, I'm pretty excited about this. I feel like there is at least a 75% chance this will not blow. That's pretty high for a movie these days.

Monday, June 1, 2009

THE FIFTH MANGA: BERSERK by Kentaro Miura

Remember when I posted my Top Five Manga and Anime list? Well, I sort of pussied out on my fifth manga, and left it un quantified... which made sense at the time, because I really didn't know which book I liked so much better than others that I would put it in my Top Five. But after monthes of deliberation, and a lot of reading, I've finally figured it out. So, without much fanfare:

5) BERSERK by Kentaro Miura

BERSERK is hard to sum up in a paragraph, because the entire point of BERSERK is that it's an epic. It's a massive, sprawling, medievil fantasy along the lines of Tolkien's LORD OF THE RINGS, but far, FAR, more graphic in it's portrayal of sex and especially violence.

BERSERK is the tale of Gatz (or Guts depending on the translation), who starts his life born from under a corpse tree when his mother is hanged with a number of other people who have been persecuted by the 'Land of the Black Sun's' leading religious sect, The Holy See. Gatz, who was never meant to have been born, is from that point on cursed as "The Struggler." Every day of his life is a fight to survive. He knows almost no happiness, and spends his childhood abused both emotionally and physically by his Gaurdian and mentor, a man named Gambino, who teaches Gatz the art of sword fighting, but having no swords small enough for a child to train with, Gatz becomes accustomed to using blades three times his size (which becomes one of the series most prominent staples; Gatz huge, black sword, which is unwieldable by any normal human).

As is typical with most manga, the first story starts off without any sort of context, taking place sometime in the middle of Gatz' life, showing him as the reader will come to know him in the future. By the end of the first story arc, you're sent into a multi-volume flashback that shows the growth of Gatz from a young mercenary of 14, to the tragic events that shape his destiny in his early twenties. You see him make friends with Griffiths, a beautiful and charismatic young mercenary Captain of the Band of the Hawks. You watch him assist Griffiths in his meteoric, almost pre-ordained rise to power in the courts of the Kingdom of Midland; you see him made friends and comrades among the Band of the Hawks; you see him find a deep and lasting love with his former rival, the female mercenary Caska; and finally you see the tragedy of Griffiths betrayal of them all as they are branded as sacrifices to the God Hand, the sinister ruling power of the Astral World and the other planes of reality that make up the metaphysical world of The 'Land of the Black Sun.' Gatz is the only survivor of the sacrifice when annoints Griffiths as the Fifth God Hand, Femto, 'The Wings of Death.' Caska also survives, but is raped into insanity by Griffiths and a horde of demons, leaving her childlike and autistic. Gatz, marked by the Brand of Sacrifice, which draws evil to him, vows revenge on both Griffiths and the God Hand, swearing he will undo all their works and eventually cut them down with his immense sword, The Dragon Slayer.

To that end, the series then becomes a quest book, as Gatz travels around the world looking for clues as to how to cure Caska, find Griffiths, rid himself of the Brand of Sacrifice, and unravel the mystery of the God Hand and their prophecy. Along the way Gatz faces countless encounters with demons, monsters, and 'Apostles', humans transformed by artifacts called the "Beheliet', or the 'Egg of Kings', small red stones with human features which bring out the idealized form of humans possessed of great 'Od' (ether, mana, MP, ki, chi, spiritual power, whatever).

Also, like any good RPG, Gatz eventually forms his "party", recruiting a number of similarly damaged misfits; the mischiefious elf, Puck, the arrogant wannabe child brigand Isidro, the former regligious zealot and daughter of a well-to-do family Farnese, her supposed half-brother/vassel, the fox eyed Serpico, Schierke the child witch, her scarcastic fairy companion Evarella, and Casca. All are damaged goods in some way, the rejects of proper society, who find comfort and strength allying themselves with other outsiders.

In the background of all of this, there is also the continuing storyarc involving a Prophecy, of which Gatz has been a part of since birth; Griffiths, as is typical, is most prominent in the Prophecy as "The White Hawk", who will eventually control the world and all other planes of existance (the Prophecy is unclear as to whether this is a good or bad thing though, as Griffiths is never actually defined as being either good or evil; just ambitious), while Gatz takes the role of the 'Struggler', a man who fights hopelessly outmatched against impossible odds to confound the Hawk.

So, given all that, what is it that I like about BERSERK? A lot of things really. I love Muira's incredibly detailed art (or, at least the artist he would become after 20 or so volumes), which starts off fairly typical of ultra-violent seinen manga, and slowly evolves over time to look like medievil etches. I love his sense of drama and character; how he builds characters from the ground up, slowly revealing the events and tragedies that shaped their beings into the people they are today, and how they still learn and evolve, striving to become better people not bound by their hideously tragic pasts. I love the thought and detail that Muira puts into the world of BERSERK, which is a mish-mash of research on the real history of medievil Europe and the more familiar DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS/TOLKIENesque fantasy worlds, which he combines with musings about the nature of the metaphysical worlds beyond this one. I like that he examines the darker aspects of human nature and religion, but does not condemn either humanity or faith, merely showing what could happen if one took things to far.

Bizarrely, I think the thing I identify most with about BERSERK is that it's central theme seems to be about hope. Gatz faces impossible odds and an endless stream of horrors, both metaphysical (demons, monsters, Apostles, and immortals), and human (reglious persecution, slavery, war, plague, rape), but perseverses, struggles, and survives. Though he man solves most all of his problems with incredible, bloody, violence, he's not an unintelligent characters, and is given to musings about the nature of humanity, as well as his own nature.

Gatz is an incredibly complex character, in that the only thing he really seems to fear in the world is himself. His inability to control his incredible rage and his baser instincts, which actuallybecomes a plot point around volume 25 or so as his darker impulses take on the metaphysical form of a sort of abstract black wolf, which is constantly taunting and tempting Gatz to give into his animal instinct and just completely lose himself in bloodlust. This metaphysical foe becomes a phsyical threat when Gatz recieves a powerful weapon against the Apostles in the form of the Cursed Black Armor. The black armor grants Gatz incredible, superhuman fighting ability, but unleashes the Black Wolf, which overtakes his conciousness, making him a true Berserker; a menace to friend and foe alike, but also to himself.

BERSERK is just an incredibly compelling, dark, adult, fantasy story with some of the most graphic violence you'll ever encounter. It's the kind of shit I started reading manga for in the first place, and like any good seinen manga, the ridiculous violence is tempered by a complex, mature, character driven plot that is as sweeping and epic as anything Tolkien or Gaigax evern came up with, only, you know, actually fucking interesting (because of the sex and violence).

On a related topic, BERSERK is almost one of my favorite anime, which adapts the first story arc (which is, like, volume 1-8 or something), showing the genesis of Gatz, and one of my favorite ever video games, namely, SWORD OF THE BERSERK for the Dreamcast, which has the toughest, most epic EVER, Boss battle in the middle of the game against my second favorite character from the series; Nosferatu Zod, or alternatively, Zod the Immortal (pictured fighting Gatz). He was almost literally unbeatable, and tougher than the final Boss, and he comes at you in the MIDDLE OF THE GAME. He's like this unclimable wall you have to pass, which is pretty much what he is in the manga as well.