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Monday, October 24, 2011

Anime Conventions

Most people know what a convention is: a gathering of people with a common interest. That common interest can be anything from politics, to computers, to animals, and even food. Also, there are different technical names for a convention: political convention, fan convention, or a trade convention.

A political convention can literally explain itself, but, it's the meeting of a political party to select party candidates for a future voting; a fan convention is a gathering of fans of movies, television series, comics, or a whole genre of science fiction, anime, and/or manga; a trade convention is an organized show which companies attend to display and test their new products.

So, to continue with where I was going in the title, "anime conventions" fall in the fan convention group and are events that gather people to meet voice actors, artists, musicians, people with interest in the Japanese culture, and with the same interests that focus on anime and manga. Some anime conventions are small and some are quite big.

In West Virginia, we have our very own convention: Tsubasacon. Started by Jeffery Mace; tsubasa means wings in Japanese, and, of course, con meaning convention. It started in 2004 at the Charleston Civic Center, was there for two years (2004-2005), then moved to the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington, West Virginia. In 2010, Tsubasacon had 1,104 paid attendees. Tsubasacon has happened in the months of November, October, and September. This past year, a "mini-con" or midyear celebration happened in Huntington's Ritter Park in June, with activities such as a picnic, games, a charity raffle, and cosplay photography.

Cosplay, or costume play, features people dressed as their favorite character from video games, anime, or even manga. A cosplay contest at Tsubascon features creators of every skill level, gives awards for best costume to best skit, and is the most popular event of the convention. Other activities at the convention are as entertaining as they are creative!

Viewing rooms show anime and live action films non-stop; workshops of information for studying abroad, cosplay creation, and martial art demonstrations; a vending area where shops can sell anime related clothing and merchandise, also Japanese items, and manga books, during the convention; artists' alley, so artists can sell and display their fan art (art made by fans, for fans); game shows to test attendees knowledge of anime and chances for prizes; a video game room where people play games on a variety of consoles; a mystery dinner event where customers at a local restaurant are given tasks to complete in order to solve/prevent a convention-related crisis; musical performances and a rave; and one of the most important events: panels, where voice actors talk about their voicing work, industry work, future work, and lives.

Voice Actors are people who do the dubbing of Japanese anime, video games, and live action Japanese movies in to American English for non-subtitle show, game, and movie sales. The shows, games, and even movies can be purchased on dvd/bluray, watched on sites like hulu, funimation, youtube, and lots of other sites. The American voice acting is done in studios, like where you would record a song, in Texas at Funimation or at NYAV Post in New York. To record a dubing actor/actress, there are auditions and callbacks like any other acting job, but this is proven to be harder; voice acting requires the matching of words to "mouth flaps" of the animated character. Three beeps, and then you record your voice to match the mouth flaps.

This job opens up a lot of opportunities: recording music, books on Cd's or for download, live theater or even movie and TV acting. Voice actors appear at anime conventions to support the business of anime and manga production. Conventions are fun for all ages, toddlers up to adults. Tsubasacon has it's own website, for updates and social networks for attendees. Even if you don't like anime, and just like video games or manga, then I suggest you check out the convention!


Tsubasacon:
1.) http://tsubascon.org

2.) http://twitter.com/#!/tsubasacon

3.) http://www.youtube.com/user/Tsubasacon

4.) http://www.facebook.com/pages/Tsubasa-con/111913532160716


Cosplay:
1.) http://www.cosplay.com/

2.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosplay


Find a convention near you!: http://animecons.com/events/


Check out my youtube playlists for anime, voice actors, and Japanese/Korean culture: http://www.youtube.com/user/undernoinnocence?feature=mhee#g/p


Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!

(please take care of me)


^_____^/)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Let's Practice!

Left: South Korea ; Right: Japan



Living in West Virginia, a state known for country living, I've listened to everything from country to rap, pop to hip-hop, jazz to alternative, and even screamo, or emo, or metal music. However, due to my like of Manga (Japanese comics), Anime (Japanese animation), and now Manhwa (Korean comics), along with my recent like of Japanese or Korean drama's, I have grown to like foreign music. Specifically Korean and Japanese pop, alternative, indie, rock, and some metal.


I began to get in to Japanese music when I watched an anime called "Inuyasha", written by Rumiko Takahashi, which plays on Adult Swim that starts at 9:00pm on channel fifty-two (52) for my area. "Inuyasha" translates to: Inu meaning Dog and Yasha meaning demon, so literally "dog demon", which is what the show is about in a nutshell. The ending and opening themes of the show had me trying to sing the actual songs, without translations or lyrics. So, I went to google. What I found made me search more and more anime theme songs, openings or closings, and their lyrics. What I found was the difficulty of learning Japanese, just because there are lyrics or websites where I can read the phonetic words, does not mean it's going to be easy. It will get easy when you practice, a lot. I got the hang of it when I was twelve, at least for Japanese, and now I'm trying my hardest at Korean.


I tried focusing on the lip movements while having the actual music video or a lyric video of the song(s) on repeat. Over the years, I've learned a few words, phrases, sentences, and songs in Japanese. Now I'm learning words, phrases, sentences, and songs in Korean. Trying to learn two languages, not to mention cultures and lifestyles, at once is confusing, hard, and sometimes wrong. While the internet is the only place a broke college student like myself can find information on the countries, it's sometimes hard to find the truth. The site http://about.com has helped me with Japanese learning. While even http://youtube.com has helped me with learning both languages.


I'm sure people in my class have visited youtube, have accounts, or just skim through the videos on the site. Youtube's front page has eleven sections of videos in a certain subject you can just click on and go. The first section is music and lately, I've seen a lot of Korean or Japanese music videos in this section. Including: 2NE1, Girls Generation, Wonder Girls, Big Bang, DBSK/TVXQ, and more, including live videos from Korean music shows; Korean music recently had videos under youtube's "spotlight" section for the whole day. There have also been Japanese concerts at anime conventions and a recent Korean concert in New Jersey, flashmob's in Paris, Canada, New York, Spain, and other countries, also, many artists from Japan or Korea are coming to the US on world tours.


These concerts give a lot of people the opportunity to try Korean or Japanese culture, personalities, talent, or even sometimes food, like at the past October 9th 2011 concert in New Jersey. Korean music is a growing trend in America, with youtube as proof, and other countries, that is continuing to grow. Now, this is a long story about me, myself, and I in my journey of learning foreign culture(s), but here's the point...


Learning about a foreign culture can be hard and sometimes make you want to quit halfway through, but you have to keep going. It is so rewarding in the end to be able to learn, understand, communicate, and even amaze your friends and family with how strong you are to take on another language. For me, it's a big stress reliever and helps me relax, so I sometimes listen to Korean or Japanese music while surfing the web, hanging out at home, taking a walk, on campus, or even doing homework. While chewing gum or sucking candy or a mint helps some people, listening to music helps me relax and even focus better.


While the Korean or Japanese language isn't for everyone, there are many other languages or cultures that are just as challenging and fun to learn. You do not have to be in to the "pop" culture of any country to learn it's language, in other words, to like the countries music or cartoons is not a must... maybe a suggestion, though. Although, if you want to learn about Japanese or Korean culture, language, or even anime and manga, I can give you a few websites, listed below.


Japan:
1.) http://search.about.com/?q=japan

2.) http://www.tokyohive.com

3.) http://www.jpopasia.com


Korea:
1.) http://talktomeinkorean.com

2.) http://www.allkpop.com

3.) http://kormore.com


Inuyasha: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/InuYasha


Anime:
1.) http://www.animenewsnetwork.com

2.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anime

3.) http://www.funimation.com



Manga:
1.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manga

2.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Original_English-language_manga

3.) http://www.mangaupdates.com



Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!
(please take care of me)


^_____^/)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Review of Okamisan and her Otogi Bank Companions






Okami (pronounced: oh-kah-me) means wolf but for this anime its more rhetorical in the meaning to play off of Fairytale characters.


Okami-San started as a (light) novel series by Masashi Okita, with illustrations by Unaji, that first started being released in August of 2006, tilted Okamisan and her Seven Companions. With only twelve volumes being published by ASCII Media Works under the Dengeki Bunko imprint name since January 2011.


It was soon followed by a manga (Japanese comic) adaptation by Kurumi Suzushiro in April 2010 by ASCII Media Works shonen manga magazine, Dengeki Daioh, and a twelve episode TV anime (Japanese cartoon) that aired in Japan between July first and September sixteenth of 2010. Oh! One more thing: Funimation Entertainment, an American company in Fort Worth Texas since 1994 that releases anime, manga, and other Japanese pop culture items, has licensed Okamisan for production in the U.S.


Keep in mind that this is a personal interpretation, I am not paid for this, and I only review what I like. Now that all of the background information is out of the way, here's what I thought.


This anime is a romantic comedy, making light jokes at fairy tales, such as Little Red Riding Hood and The Ant and the Grasshopper. Ryoko Okami the tomboyish "fake" high school girl had a horrible past,involving betrayal, so she puts on this strong front to pretend that shes okay, and she really dislikes cute things... Which is a lie, considering she hides light romance novels at the back of her bookshelf.


Ryoko Okami, the "wolf", doesn't trust anyone, except for the friends she works for at Otogi High School Bank; where an eclectic bunch take job requests from other students and sometimes rich families to stock up on "favors". Her partner, Ringo Akai (Little Red Riding Hood), and a boy that declared his love to her, Ryoshi Morino, are her companions when they are fulfilling said requests.


While Ringo is more behind the scenes, such as computer hacking or surveillance, Ryoko is more fists forward, using "neko neko gloves" (neko = cat) to fight her opponents, and Ryoshi hides in the shadows where he becomes more "manly" by using a sling shot and pachinko balls to help Ryoko. Other characters include a President, a Maid, a "magic scientist", and a secretary... Making the Otogi High School Bank (a club) seem like a rich families security company.


Now, to be honest, I thought it was your average "narrator gives the story while the first scenes play out" anime, but this narrator has a personality all her own. With insights in to the characters, the story line, even the scenery inside the story. Sort of like a story being read to you by a very opinionated friend that makes you laugh. She draws you in as if you are following them along in their own world on each job request and even through the characters own trials of personal life.


While a lot of supporting characters are unseen or even unfelt, this anime makes sure that each character seems to have their own episode or their own moment in an episode that gives them their own individual life. The president of the Otogi High School Bank is a good worker who even cross dresses to get information, while the secretary is more president like in her serious work skills. Theres even a maid who has a fear of never paying back a favor, a mad scientist with a bunny-eared-witch hat, a princess who fights her prince to have him to herself, a prince who hits on every girl while keeping said princess happy. Even if this bunch of people, actors if you will, sound out of place, they aren't. They oddly fit right in, as if this has gone on for years!


In America, not a lot of books move on to TV shows or movies this well. Some are wonderful, some are horrible, and some are half and half. Some even get canceled the first week they air on television or fall to last place in ticket sales. I don't think Okamisan does this. The narrator holds the audiences attention, while the characters follow through with the storyline and enough ad libbing with the narrator to actually make it work.


While the show does have some sexual innuendos and a few cuss words, the show is all in the Japanese language with English subtitles, so I think it's suited to people at least fifteen and older; I'm not so sure about the light novels or mangas. To purchase the books or the episodes on DVD, you would have to find for yourselves, unfortunately. Since Funimation Entertainment licensed Okamisan and her Seven Companions the title of this show has changed to, Okami-san and Her Otogi Bank Companions and has not yet been put in to DVDs for sale, let alone the books. However, I did find some merchandise on Google.com, in the "shopping" section, for sale. So, where you can find it, I would purchase it!


I give this anime (only) ten out of ten nekos! It's funny, heroic, action, adventure, surprise, and of course, romantic all rolled in to one. If you are bored this coming break, give it a try! It should only take you a day or so to finish this series, since there is only twelve episodes, that you can watch on hulu.com or funimation's website.


Hulu.com: http://www.hulu.com/okamisan


Funimation.com: http://www.funimation.com/okamisan


Since this is my first review, I hope it was helpful, understood, and I got my point across.


Yoroshiku onegaishimasu! (please take care of me)


^_____^/)