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Aoi

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Evening roundup: Postwar protests, too many Yu-Gi-Oh! cards


Aug 16
// Aoi
Hidey-ho, Jtorinos! Even if most of the con dust has settled for most of us, vacuumed up and thrown out by the mundanity of real life, we'll still have the strength to corral another news roundup today. As usual, it...
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San Japan '08: Artists & Writers' Inspirational Lecture


Aug 15
// Aoi
This one's title was a bit too large a mouthful, I thought; the full name was actually "Inspirational Lecture for Aspiring Artists & Writers." It fit in its schedule slot box thingy, but...
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San Japan '08: The Chibi Project


Aug 14
// Aoi
San Japan left me full of warm and gushy impressions, up to and including the full-blown case of headache-y sniffles I came down with Sunday night, and the days of drugged sleep resulting therefrom; luckily, mo...
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San Japan '08: Day 1


Aug 08
// Aoi
Adjust the microscope of your Convention Senses, if you would, on a mental map of the U.S., and zoom in. Now do it further. No, more, past that huge Ota-smelling one, in Baltimore, the one I am not attending with my site...

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JapanaTen: The top ten things anime cons should never ever lose


Jul 31
// Aoi
Ye Olde Otakone is coming up fast, and as we scurry around on our hamster wheels, trying like hell to make sure we all end up in approximately the same place(s) and time(s) August 8-10, it occurs to me that I'm...
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Mainichi confesses: the Internet might have lied to us!


Jul 24
// Aoi
So, 'bout a month ago, we found out that the infamous "WaiWai" section of Mainichi was being shut down because it was full of salacious crap that made its country of origin look like a bunch of loli-loving unnatural...
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Traditional undies for all? Why not?


Jul 22
// Aoi
Proponents of seeing women without adequate butt-clothing, rejoice, for another incarnation thereof is emergent in Japan. It's not new, per se, as Japan Probe points out: fundoshi are traditional men's loincloths, u...
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Hello Kitty pincushion? Don't say any more, I'm already sold


Jul 20
// Aoi
In the few consecutive times I've been online this past month, abortive attempts to write about Inuyasha aside - seriously, one got closed prematurely via roommate, one eaten, and one killed itself in Gmail by ...
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$2 million space wedding? That's unpossible! Except not


Jun 21
// Aoi
Japan Today had a really brief but weird tidbit for all you airless-void-lovin' people: On July 1, some guys yclept First Advantage will start letting Japanese couples line up to get hitched about 100 kilometers above the Ear...
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New piggy bank/dating sim is almost too cute to be dumb


Jun 21
// Aoi
The Japanese have come up with some strange, high-tech and even violent means of saving money in nonsmashable personal containers; as the latter blog points out, men and kids are not the ones wielding the principal financial ...
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Epic sword is epic! Comes with bonus math problem


Jun 18
// Aoi
I couldn't bring myself to horizontally crop this one from o'er at Sankaku, a full-size replica of Guts' Dragon Slayer from that heartwarming coming-of-age tale, Berserk, and the only other sword permitted in international &q...
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Robot girlfriend is two feet tall, faceless, and costs about $200. Girl-next-door type?


Jun 18
// Aoi
Only marginally creepy, probably because no terrifying features are identifiable, but I still can't approve of this thing being genuinely intended as a working substitute for female love, as opposed to, say, one of those toys...

Japanator Review: Bleach: Memories of Nobody

Jun 11 // Aoi
From conversations around the theater - which was inexplicably dark till about ten minutes before the movie started; sorry, dude into whom I blundered as I tried to feel my way down the aisles - I believe there were many more repeat viewers from the showing of Death Note last month than myself and my brother. I was interested to see how this crowd would differ for such disparate genres as we were going to see. Woo, business! There were also the same stupid "You're about to watch a movie brought to you by Fathom! We're great! Buy refreshments! You're about to watch a movie brought to you by Fathom! We're great Buy" etc. previews. We were entertained, though, by the crowd, as one gentleman loudly sought the presence of a "Larry," and we all got into it, even though there really was no it. In a normal theater, awkward silence and muttered "Shut up"s would've reigned instead. Woo, otaku!A brief clip of Tite Kubo drawing Ichigo opened things up, along with his bragging that he gets to go to Comic-Con and we don't. But then the Viz producers, editors and voice actors came on in a much longer clip and talked first about how great the Bleach manga was, and then how a great Bleach anime got made, and then how they made a movie and Viz got to put it into English, as well as some interesting details on the transitions. We also learned that Renji's voice actor looks like a friendly walrus with a 'fro, except more awesome. Woo, Renji with no shirt on! ...Because!The actual movie has the usual amount of shounen-movie plot, which is to say There Is A New Threat, Which Is Dealt With After A Suitable Amount Of Difficulty, And No One Remembers And/Or Ever Refers To It Ever Again, except with that one Inuyasha filler episode. (More on Inuyasha later, but not in this post. Ohhh, will there ever be more later.) More precisely, there's a girl named Senna, who seems mixed up with some bizarre kind of spirit called Blanks, and a group exiled from Soul Society is trying to destroy everyone using them. One expects - and gets! - lots of action, fighting, Kon-squishing, cameoing, and much more out of a big-budget flick like this, and as far as those go, Memories of Nobody is a hell of a lot of fun. Seeing it with an audience ready to make some appreciative noise at Kenpachi dropping into a fight armed with maniacal laughter and Yachiru? Priceless. The drawbacks? Ahhh, yes, there are those. For one, Senna's voice actress, a n00b to Bleach, was...well, not bad. Not terrible, which a lot of girly-girls in English tend to be--but not always strong enough to carry a lot of crucial scenes; I particularly disapproved of her speaking in that wobbly a voice when Senna was weakened. I also found myself mouthing "Come on. COME OOON" when Ichigo lapsed into his usual "I iz not gud protectur" mode--and who the hell on the writing staff thought "It's always better to be on top" wouldn't be taken the wrong way as a semi-serious line?When you get down to it, though, why would you see this movie without expecting a joyously unabashed whack-fest? I dunno. All I know is, I'd see it again, pretty animation, so-so acting, thrown-together plot and all. Unless you're the kind of person who wrote their thesis on the socioeconomic ramifications of Death Note in remote parts of the Alaskan wilderness - or are allergic to fun - you could probably find something to like here, too. Approval get! 
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There's something unbelievably refreshing about abandoning your higher tastes for a couple of hours and diving headfirst into a big, man-sweaty pool of shounen. You can forget intricate plots, carefully constructed character ...

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A-kon '08: AMV Contest(s)!


Jun 09
// Aoi
I've put this post off, not only because the past week has seen me running around like a monkey on acid back and forth 'cross central Texas getting ready to go back to "school" or "move" or whatever th...
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A-Kon '08: Anime Hell


Jun 04
// Aoi
This con staple took place a tiny bit late, which is not notable at itself in a huge, busy Friday-night con environment; what stuck out here was that several key volunteers and/or Anime Hell guys seemed to be sick or otherw...
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A-kon '08: Helen McCarthy and Peter Beagle's panel


Jun 03
// Aoi
On the con schedule, it was called "Gossip" with those two writers, but really, it was last year's Storytelling panel all over again, which was not a good thing so much as a magnificent concession to the fact that l...
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A-Kon '08: Friday arrival, Idea Generator panel


Jun 02
// Aoi
A full day's rest and no alcohol have set me up nicely to talk about some little ol' con from this weekend in Dallas; with my chocolate all melted, my L wig broken and a couple of fantastic souvenirs, I'll always be able to t...
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$600,000 traditional Japanese Gundam painting. Need I say more?


May 27
// Aoi
Well, in case I do, that's the work of one Hisashi Tenmyouya, an artist whose "neo-nihonga" art style produced this fantastic little glob of fantasticness back in '05. Oh, and it recently sold for the Hong Kong doll...

Japanator Review: Death Note (live-action, English dub)

May 22 // Aoi
I was lucky enough to live in a major hippie hotspot for this event, so that I had a few nearby theaters to pick from; armed with my brother, who's rarely frightened by questionable dubbing or fan-frenzied crowds, plus a bag of Skittles, I picked up our tickets, wondered why I got my Bleach ones at the same time, and headed into the fray. The theater wasn't too crowded: at least three-quarters, but not packed, according to the convention mindset I came with. Only one Ryuk cosplayer was in evidence, and the crowd seemed fairly well-behaved, if noisy. Less heartening was the fact that the same three or four Fathom Events ads kept cycling back and forth as we waited, as if the theater had decided otaku weren't as likely as your average homo sapiens to buy Coke or fill in the blanks naming the latest Sex is Funny OMFG! On the plus side, though, they didn't play any 90-decibel pre-movie pop-tart wailing as so many theaters do, which was probably preferable. Tipping the scales at just over two hours, the fun started off with a huge Bleach movei pimp, then promised us a making-of after the movie, and played out with the balance I'd expected of laughs, gasps, laughs where it wasn't supposed to be funny, cringing, and an acceptable level of "L is so beautiful!" squealing. (You can't make this up, folks.) Instead of a brilliantly bored and disillusioned high-schooler, Light is introduced to us here as an intelligent and disillusioned law student who just so happens to find a little black notebook (gotta admire the circle of dryness around it in the rain), and he's off to see the Wizard of AAAHs in executing criminals. I'd already seen the movie, of course, and wasn't impressed then with the pacing, or most of Ryuk's late-90s CG rendering, or the painfully blatant way they laid out some elements of a fantastic story. ("Light Yagami! I think you're Kira and you suck! I gave you a fake name and you'll totally lose, so there" was wildly out of character, for starters, but I guess smart side characters take too long.) I don't mind that they gave Light a girlfriend, Shiori, or that they changed little details like a new female task force member, Ray Penber's last name, and so on; I mean, c'mon, you have to get this sucker told somehow, and there's an unbelievable amount of plot packed into the 12 manga volumes--the movie's ending was also executed quite cleverly, and well within the Death Note's rules, just like the Oscar-winning amoral bastard we know and love. :')In my first viewing, though, I felt the biggest problem with the movie was that it was...boring. In the theater, away from the temptation of a fast-forward button, I no longer quite thought so. This wasn't necessarily a good thing, thanks to scenes like the one where Light asks his father to let him join the Kira task force, and Soichiro's gruffness in Japanese translated into hilariously stilted, awkward, highly substandard English dialogue, very nearly MST3K material (and I don't say that lightly, not since I rewatched certain bits last month).  If you were curious, the credits at the end confirmed that the current Adult Swim cast dubbed the movie as well; Ocean is good at producing an average three to five great leads, one or two excellent extras - Matsuda was perfect! - and a pack of shrill abominations for every other role. Can someone please outlaw English-speaking attempts at imitating perky Japanese teenagers? And why did the criminals at the very beginning of the movie toss around f-bombs and s-words, and then pretty much the rest of the film pass with only Ryuk using one last poopy cuss, funny as it was? Was that their quota? For all its grimly thought-provoking subject matter, Death Note's never relied on profanity or buckets o' blood for shock value, which makes what we do see or hear (the end of the manga, anyone?) all the more shocking. Why bother to inject that into a script aimed at the very same audience?Good Japanese actors, a few standout English roles - Light, L, Matsuda and Watari come to mind - and a promising setup for the second movie don't make up for Death Note falling this short of the manga and anime's storytelling. Besides any complaints with the dub, Viz made a particularly glaring error for Western audiences: despite the plethora of headlines, cell phones, computer and handwritten messages displayed throughout the movie, naturally all in Japanese, we never see any subtitles. Ever. After a minute or so of flash-flash-flash that made no sense to the whole theater (I myself couldn't pick out much more than "Kira" and "death"), pitchforks and torches started to go up. It felt ridiculous for such a literate movie to not at least attempt to keep non-Japanese readers out of the dark, quick as some of it goes.Overall, I'm glad I got to see the movie with other fans, and that corporations involved with this kind of event got my money; dubbing it and putting a brief, not-too-bad "Making Of" afterward were definitely steps in the right direction as far as attracting a wider audience goes. I'll just enjoy it more when Memories of Nobody comes to town and my expectations won't simultaneously be so low and high.
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Last night and the night before, over 300 theaters 'cross the country rolled out the first live-action adaptation of some series no one's ever heard of, something about a notebook and some slob who makes sweet-kabobs. (At thi...

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Lost parrot recites his name and address, is smarter than many kids


May 21
// Aoi
I gave in to both my X chromosomes here and just finished a solid 20-second "Awwww" at the story of one Yosuke Nakamura, an African grey parrot who was separated from his family for several days in a city near Tokyo...
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More exciting news outta Otakon '08: this time, they've announced a superdupertriplechocolate special mystery guest, but not the person's identity. Instead, we get to guess it based on several criteria:1) It's a Japanese pers...

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Social networking wars on Japan's 'Net horizon


May 20
// Aoi
Evil corpotate entity Facebook Inc. has just announced their intentions to launch a Japanese tentacle of their massive social-networking hentai monster, emphasizing that the site is very safe and awesome and you should totall...
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Posthumous Medal of Honor to WWII Marine who 'captured' 1,500 Japanese?


May 14
// Aoi
Hell yes, says I. Why? Because the "Pied Piper of Saipan," during the July 1944 invasion of that island, single-handedly and repeatedly went off on his own, against orders, to persuade hundreds of Japanese civilia...
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Japanese police "accidentally" give kerosene-soaked guy a lighter??


May 13
// Aoi
This is pretty unbelievable, and not in the fun anime waif-with-G-cups kind of way; F*cked Gaijin tells us Japanese police arrested a gentleman who was reported to be "acting violently," and the suspect doused himse...
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One more delicious, delicious nugget of Bleach


May 08
// Aoi
As promised, here's where you can buy tickets to the Bleach movie if you're lucky enough to have a participating theater in your area. As I expected, there are three theaters in my artsy-fartsy neck of the woods showing both ...
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Secret nude photography > real porn?


May 06
// Aoi
One of my favorite pastimes, besides donating 40 hours of my life to FF: Crisis Core, is analyzing cultural nuances in stories about porn, and this one hit the jackpot. First up in the disturbingly detailed account of one wom...
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Cat cafes offer cuteness, but no maid costumes. Everybody wins!


May 01
// Aoi
That's right, folks. At least seven cafes in Tokyo are notable in that you primarily pay 8-12 bucks an hour to hang out with a bunch of kittes whilst you drink your tea. This caught my attention for many reasons, not just my ...
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Accidental dribbling of new license info, or short-lived ruse? We'll see


May 01
// Aoi
I think I'm going nuts. For one thing, I was sure when I got up this afternoon that I had, sometime last night, posted a cutesy post here about Tokyo cat cafes. I seem to have done so only in my head. o_O Thankfully, it was b...
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Japanese scientists close to harnessing power of monthly ick for Good


Apr 25
// Aoi
Cardiologists at Keio University have found some success with cultivating menstrual blood cells alongside rats' heart cells and coaxing some of it to turn into heart-y material in the process. This is a huge step: you can get...
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More Bleach movie info trickles down from on high


Apr 22
// Aoi
Our super-secret informational sources have revealed that Bleach: Memories of Nobody is gonna be in theaters for exactly two nights, June 11 and 12. (Wednesday and Thursday? Weird. I s'pose the theaters don't wanna fork over ...

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