“Why watch anime at an anime convention?”

September 30th, 2015 in Kraken Con by


When I first heard that, I thought the speaker was crazy. That is a driving reason TO go, as you get a chance to see the latest and newest before anyone else or an opportunity to find something you didn’t know about. For “KrakenCon”, it was a grand disappointment for me in regards to the anime offered.

Two of the viewings made sense: “Evangelion 2.22” and “Kim Possible: So the Drama”, as the ladies who did the voices, respectively, for Asuna and Kim, were guests of honor (or ‘luminary’, as that is what their badge said). The rest of the shows had some kind of naval or military tie in: “KanColle” (girls who are battleships), “The Princess and the Pilot” (giant airships that are like aircraft carriers), “A Lull in the Sea” (about watery folks), “Arpeggio of Blue Steel” (a Japanese submarine takes on an alien battleship fleet), and others, although I would have chosen a couple of different ones, like “The Pilot’s Love Song”, “Squid Girl” and/or “Tide Line Blue” (OK, that last one is an older title, but one of the first series I watched during my Seventh Anime Attempt). But, except for “Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet”, I have seen them all and I have reviewed them all. That is a problem when you watch as much anime as I do: unless it is a Grand World Premiere, it’s old hat. I did try to take in “Gargantia”, but logistical problems arose and it was not shown. (more…)

Anchors Away

September 30th, 2015 in Kraken Con by


So, after all the problems and concerns, the Day finally came, but not without more problems and concerns. The first was transportation.

Now, with acres of free parking (and I mean acres. “Mythbusters” does their show here at the Alameda Naval Base for a reason: lots of empty), I had planned on taking the car, but the wife has this Saturday class, where she learns about proper and sustainable gardening techniques. Yeah, so how do you keep the rats from eating my tomatoes, short of me standing out there with a shovel? Anyway, she needs the car. Fortunately, between public transit and a shuttle from the hotel to the site (a mere ’10 minute shuttle drive’), I get to hoof it. Me, being paranoid, I like to give myself a lot of time. True, the event did not open until 10am, but I remember what went off the track for Famine!, so I gave myself a cushion. The subway ride takes about 30 minutes, but I don’t have to transfer. Yeah, I tried to work the NYC Subway system once and I practically ended up in Syosset trying to get to Wall Street.

I spent a lovely Saturday morning power-striding to the station (“It’s SATURDAY! I get to SLEEP IN!!”) and getting the train, then a one-block trod to the shuttle point (as I can remain underground until needed, like Punxsutawney Phil), in front of the hotel that I didn’t stay at to get the 9 am shuttle. You see, it only runs on the half-hour; I guess 10 minutes there, 10 minutes to unload/load, 10 minutes to get back. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. I did not want to cool my jets by making a misstep and hang ANOTHER 30 minutes. The shuttle should have tipped me off to the logistical problem ahead. (more…)

Another One So Soon?

September 30th, 2015 in Kraken Con by


Yes, I know, I have told people that they should really do no more than one anime convention a year and really, do it every two years, but what can you do when an opportunity arises? I will gladly explain.

I had initially thought about doing SacAnime. This is located in Sacramento, California, about 90 minutes from where I reside. I was debating whether to get a hotel room (fantastic rates, right?) or crash with some relatives that are fairly close to the location of it (CalExpo). SacAnime started out as a small small, but has grown to a medium medium (Anime Expo is a large large, whereas Fanime! is a large medium or small large, depending on how well it gets attended and who they can bring in). When I broached this idea to the daughter, as this would occur over the Labor Day weekend, she counter with KrakenCon, which took me aback, as I was not fully familiar with it, even though it is much closer to me than any of the venues mentioned, being located on Alameda Island in the San Francisco Bay Area. (more…)

Over the Sea, Let’s Go Men!

September 30th, 2015 in Kraken Con by


Owing to a change in scheduling and approach, I feel compelled to give another pre-convention update as to what is going on. For a one-day convention, it certainly is creating a huge amount of problems. Thank goodness I didn’t decide to go for a hotel room; I can’t imagine the logistical nightmare that might generate. Also, the parent company for KrakenCon wants me to play up and promote and push this all over the place, as they want to increase the size of it and get more people in (What? With an attendance cap in place?) Well, as Oscar Wilde once noted, “The only thing worse than being talked about is NOT being talked about.” So I guess all ink is good ink (or electronic lettering, depending).

Now, the Big Thing about this venue is that it is being held on an AIRCRAFT CARRIER! Well, that’s different, but doesn’t the flight deck of a carrier have the room for about, say, four football fields? (A football field is about 1 1/3 acres or 57,600 square feet). And you need a vendor’s cap? How big are the tables? The size of the end zone? That’s a huge amount of manga! (more…)

One You May Have Missed #1 – The “Girl” Can’t Help It

September 27th, 2015 in Anime, General Reviews, Gunslinger Girl by

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Part of the problem with any art form (movies, music, anime, painting, books, graffiti at the bus stop) is that there is so much already out there and so much more coming through, it is very easy to miss or overlook or just be oblivious to whatever else is out there and you cruise right on past things. There are a lot of really good shows out there, but you may not have heard of them or the capsule description doesn’t really capture the flavor of the show.

As part of an on-going series, I want to draw your attention to these overlooked gems and suggest that you take some time out of your busy day (there is no need to see a replay on the NFL Network of a game between the Patriots and the Falcons played in Week 13 of 1992) and check them out, which brings me to my first offering, “Gunslinger Girl”.

It is interesting in that it is fully set it Italy, something that you rarely see in anime. We begin with the Social Welfare Agency (or “the Agency”), ostensibly a charitable institution sponsored by the Italian Government. While the Agency professes to aid the rehabilitation of the physically injured, it is actually a military organization. It is composed of two independent branches: Public Safety, its surveillance and intelligence-gathering division, and Special Ops, the anti-terrorist division. (more…)

Movie Review – A Stranger in “Paradise”

September 24th, 2015 in Anime, General Reviews, Movies, Rakuen Tsuihou by

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The big problem that I have with anime movies is that I never get a real chance to see them in the theaters. With the exception of a lot (but not all) of Studio Ghibli, I would assume the bulk of these offerings never leave the Land of the Rising Sun. On those rare occasions that they do, it is a really limited release over the course of one weekend, in a movie theater that the bus lines don’t get to, at an outrageous ticket price (I had a chance to see “The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya” like this, but the tickets were $20 each!) and with a grand total of five showings.

Thus, when I do encounter a movie, I give it a look-see, and I will potentially not get another shot at a look-see. This means it is pot luck at best. Like the Mystery Bag, whatever is whatever. I had a chance to see “Rakuen Tsuihou” (“Expelled from Paradise”), a film I heard nothing about at all, even though it has been out in the US for theoretically five months.

It is the future. Most anime is about the future. Angela Balzac is an agent at the space station DEVA, whose inhabitants have no physical bodies, their minds digitized and processed into a virtual reality environment. She has a day off and is ‘lounging’ at the ‘beach’ on a ‘wonderful day’. Seriously, if this is all VR, it’s not much different than the Matrix, right? Anyway, after some Village People clone tries to hit on her, the beach scene deteriorates, as they have been hacked by some initially unknown entity. (more…)

Movie Review – Who’s “There”?

September 20th, 2015 in Anime, General Reviews, Movies, When Marnie was There by

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I wonder what it takes for an anime film to get decent distribution in the US. I did see “Ponyo” and “The Wind Rises” in the theaters, but how many others have slid below the radar? I’m not even seeing ads taken out in the papers or things getting mentioned, so I have to wait for alternate distribution to find out about them at all and then get a chance to see the latest film releases. “When Marnie was There” (or “Marnie of the Memories”) came out last July and could, potentially, be the last film from Studio Ghibli, as they are ‘on hiatus’, but with the retirement of Miyazaki, their future is vague.

On to the film. I am uncertain when the film takes place, but it could be the late 60s or early 70s. Anna Sasaki (left) is a 12-year-old girl who lives in Sapporo with foster parents, Yoriko and her husband. Anna’s mom and dad died in a car accident and Grandma passed away a couple of years earlier, so there is no one for her. One day at school, she collapses from an asthma attack, so her parents send her to spend the summer with Setsu and Kiyomasa Oiwa, relatives of Yoriko, in Kushino, a rural seaside town, where the air is clear. (OK, we will ignore the fact that asthma isn’t tuberculosis). (more…)

Attack of the OVA #8 – “Park” It Over There

September 17th, 2015 in Amagi Brilliant Park, Anime, General Reviews by

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Now, I really liked “Amagi Brilliant Park”, a series about characters from another world who need to generate positive energy to live here in our dimension (go check the review). What I enjoyed about the three-run OVA is the scratch style that they used, as evidenced by that piece of junk up there. As if it was slapped together in record time, the shows are depending more on the stories they tell and the predicaments everyone gets into than the actual art approach, but it works quite well for them. I feel if they used the original artwork, it would actually hurt these throw-away bits. (more…)

Attack of the OVA #7 – “Box” It Up

September 13th, 2015 in Anime, General Reviews, Shiro Bako OVA by

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Shiro Bako” (and there is a review out; I do a lot of anime watching and reviewing), was an anime show about making an anime show. The front part of the series spoke about “Exodus!”, which was the first anime they were producing. The OVA is the ‘first episode’ of that anime run, so we can see the fruits of their labors.

The show is about the idol girl group “Tracy”, composed of (left to right) Aya, Akane and either Alpine or Arupin (it depends on which source you use). Their manager also promotes the group Ginger and everything Ginger is, Tracy is not. They perform in front of practically no one and their dressing room is the staff toilet. They are, understandably, depressed and they are on the verge of breaking up when Akane decides to talk to their manager, Taguchi, about things. (more…)

Movie Review – “Bamboo” is Not a Weed

September 10th, 2015 in Anime, General Reviews, Movies, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya by

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Another Studio Ghibli release, “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya” (Kaguya-hime no Monogatari) is 95% of a marvelous film. A rather cheap-out ending mars an otherwise magnificent effort, both in story-telling and animation approach.

A bamboo cutter named Sanuki no Miyatsuko lives high in the mountains, plying his trade. One day, while doing his rounds, he discovers a glowing bamboo shoot. Inside is a tiny, tiny girl. Believing her to be a divine presence, Miyatsuko and his wife decide to raise her as their own, calling her “Princess“. The girl grows rapidly and conspicuously, marveling her parents and earning her the nickname “Takenoko” (Little Bamboo) from the other children in the village. Sutemaru, the oldest among Kaguya’s friends, develops a particularly close relationship with her. (more…)