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The Price of Fandom - Day 2
by Bamboo Dong on Sat Sep 27, 2008 6:35 pm
After stumbling into the convention center this morning with a grande caramel machiatto in one hand, and a bag of exhaustion in the other (and it was only the second day!), I needed some good ol' retail therapy.

Accessories

I've never understand the general obsession with fairies-- or, as many fantasy nerds like to call them-- "faeries." They don't seem to serve much of a purpose, they're all slightly bitchy looking, and they remind me too much of Tinkerbell, whose attitude earned my hatred even at a young age. But, for everyone else who likes these mystical creatures way too much, and needs to adorn their Jansports with these whimsical little sprites, you can get a whole COLLECTION of them.



Cost: $7

More shirts

Luckily, this same booth also had a giant stack of Barack Obama t-shirts, drawn by Alex Ross. There's no better way to show your support of our next president by wearing this studly shirt. Granted, his campaign doesn't see a cent of this money, but as far as unlicensed Obama shirts go, this one's pretty boss.



Cost: $20

Decor

Hey, you know what'll charm the pants off any lady (of legal age)? Hanging this baby in your room. I doubt that she's actually 18, but she's not even human, so it makes it okay. Plus every time you make love to your lady, you can stare into Nyu's eyes and pretend she's your real girlfriend.



Cost: $40

Of course, if you're afraid your mom will get mad at you for having scandalous posters in your room, you can just put up something more vague, like this Gurren Lagann flag. It symbolizes ultimate manliness, and it's the perfect adornment for your man nest.



Cost: $40

Cute things

Here's the parts of the exhibition hall that I really like. The cute things. I die every time I see a round animal, so this con had a billion things to slay me. First up, SQUARE PIGS. Originally, these pigs were part of the San-X Monokuroboo line, and only came in black or white. Now they come in a delightful array of deliciously pastel colors. I would eat every one of them if they wouldn't cause me massive indigestion.



Cost: $13

Squishable.com has an amazing assortment of fat creatures. They don't seem to serve a purpose except to be fat, and that's fine by me. They're also huge, and come in many varieties, including the pictured zebra. Also available are frogs, snails, orcas, sharks, octopi, rabbits, and a variety of others.



Cost: $38

Sustenance

What event would be complete without nerds ravenously shoving Pocky in their mouths? I'm actually surprised there weren't more places selling Pocky, because these damned things practically sell themselves. Also, a thousand curses on that Kakashi cosplayer who breathed chocolate-flavored Pocky on me.



Cost: $2.50

Love

Awwww... hugs! Just the thing to soothe the soul.



Cost: FREE
The Price of Fandom - Day 1
by Bamboo Dong on Fri Sep 26, 2008 10:13 pm
It's no secret that anime is not a cheap hobby. Buying DVDs can cost a fortune, merchandise can make things worse, and if you want to get into cosplaying-- your wallet is pretty much done for. Anime conventions just take that horrible addiction and amplify it by 100x. Even worse if you have to fly across the country to go to one (did you know that US Airways charges for beverages now??)

Seriously, look at all this awesome stuff that could possibly tempt a nerd. If I had all the money in the world, and slightly less shame, I would buy all of these items.

T-shirts

What could possibly show your inner beast better than the quintessential wolf t-shirt? That kind of thing rakes in the ladies. Wearing one not only releases your innate pheromones, but it also tells everybody who's the leader of the pack.



Cost - $17-34, depending on design and size. This place also has some sweet buck shirts, and a glow-in-the-dark shirt that has a full star map.

You could also display your hip internet humor with this (not) creative take on the 300 catch phrase. I mean, Zelda is cool. 300 is cool. Surely, an inside joke involving both has to be awesome. This will make you more friends than you could ever want.



Cost: $20

Wacky accessories

Now, if only there was a way to show people your crazy raver side. Maybe you need something to complement your kawaii neko ears. Why not join the pack and get one of these fox tails, for a mere $20? Glowsticks only cost $1 at Duane Reed, too, so you'll be ready to bust out all sorts of dance moves.



Cost: $20

Costumes

Even better, why not just buy a sailor fuku, so you can cosplay on the spot. Props to the dealers who don't even give enough of a damn to iron their costumes before selling them. I sure want to buy a rumpled heap of cloth. Close-up of the rumplage.



Cost: $60

Lunch

Eating lunch would've cut into my anime time. PASS.

Dinner

Every anime fan needs to eat Asian food all weekend long. A trip to K-town landed us at a Korean buffet, and over a pound of food.

Cost: $8.50

Day 1 Dream Total: $123.50

If you're not here at NYAF, you should be jealous. You can't even imagine the merch you're missing out on. Zombie t-shirts, guys. Zombie t-shirts.
He's just not that into you. He's into boys.
by Bamboo Dong on Fri Mar 23, 2007 12:24 am
Media Blasters released the awesomest OVA ever, called I Shall Never Return. It's about boys who like boys. I'll talk about it more in this week's Shelf Life, but the sweet and short of it is that this OVA is amazing in that really terrible "Really? They put money in this thing?" way. Like Stick It, which I totally saw opening night last year.

The thing is, this thing looks like it was made in the 80s. But no. It was made in like, 1998. And the story... well, I'll talk about it later. I just wanted to trash-talk the ancient-looking animation and the character designs that look like the original manga artist hasn't been out of her home in decades.

Wait, better yet, I'll just show you this clip of these kids rocking out in the discotheque.



Tell me that's not brutally amazing. Now watch it while listening to Jan Wayne's club mix of "Total Eclipse of the Heart."

And the WHOLE OVA IS LIKE THIS.

I'm telling you, this is the next American classic.
High Altitude Fun at NDK
by Bamboo Dong on Mon Oct 09, 2006 6:06 pm
It's been years since I've had so much fun at a convention. And you know what? It's all in letting yourself go and embrace your nerd side as hard as you can.

This weekend, I went to Nan Desu Kan (con report to come), located in the beautiful city of Denver, Colorado. NDK was the first con I ever went to, back in the day, and it was just as much fun this year as it was my first time.

Why? Because I did fan stuff.

For years, I've been going to cons as part of my job. I'd go there, go to industry panels, write up reports, interview people, etc, etc. When I was done, I'd do everyday activities: relax in the hotel room, check out the DR, go out to eat, etc. It didn't really leave any time to be a giant nerd and check out the Dating Game panels, the (insert series here) fan panels, or other stuff that I've grown to become wary of.

Maybe it's coincidental that the conventions where I've had the least amount of fun are the ones where I cosplayed alone, or worse, didn't cosplay at all. Not that I think cosplaying is crucial to convention enjoyment, mind you, but once a cosplayer, always a cosplayer.

This year, a friend and I donned Hellsing costumes (he, Walther, and I, "Blood" Seras), and threw all to the wind. We entered Battle Cosplay, went to cheesy panels, and wandered around chatting with random people for the sole purpose of talking to people. And it was fun.

Maybe it's Denver's laid-back attitude, the high quality of anime fans there, or once again, after 5 years, finally cosplaying with others again. Or maybe it was being able to whack people on stage depending on the roll of a die. Whatever it was, I felt my years of jaded cynicism and burn-out melting away, and believe me, it felt good.

Moral of the story, if you're turning into a jaded old bastard like me, don't worry. It's possible to get it all back.


Tangentially, I checked out the LBCC website today, and looked at their calendar of events. I had to smile when I saw a long list of events, and there was Anime Expo at the end of June, with a note next to it showing that the SPJA had booked out the entire center. A testament to how popular anime fan gatherings can be? I'd say so.
Conquering Shamballa
by Bamboo Dong on Sun Aug 27, 2006 3:15 pm
In a month where the average person is looking forward to movies like Snakes on a Plane and Beerfest, there is one premiere that most moviegoers will never even notice—Fullmetal Alchemist The Movie: The Conqueror of Shamballa. The highly-anticipated ending to the Fullmetal Alchemist TV series, currently being released by Funimation and airing on Cartoon Network, was shown in select theaters as a special engagement on August 25 and 26.

If you scan the list of theaters though, you won’t notice too many big cities. In fact, you’ve probably never heard of most of the towns, considering the movie is only being shown in a few small chains. Still, that didn’t seem to stop some serious Fullmetal Alchemist fans. Before the screening I attended in Fort Collins, Colorado, I talked to a girl in line who had driven up that morning from Roswell, New Mexico just for the movie. An eight-hour drive to see a movie? That’s dedication.

The other folks in line didn’t have to haul themselves that far, but some had shown up an hour early just to wait in line. By the time they started letting people into the theater, the line was wrapped around the lobby. The screenings on the second day were even more intense, with cosplayers showing up almost two hours early, clutching plushes and squealing at everything Fullmetal.

Interestingly, after chatting with the people in line, it appeared like roughly one-third of the attendees had already seen the movie. Despite that, they were eager to see it again both to show their support for the series, and to watch something that was professionally done. As one fan said, “I love the series; I could never be happy just watching bad fansubs.” Considering Conqueror of Shamballa is set to hit DVD shelves in mere weeks, the large crowd was a nice surprise.

In fact, most of the fans were excited to just be there, having only learned of the showing through word-of-mouth. The vast majority had been informed by their friends, who in turn either saw the theater list online or had been notified through college anime club mailing lists. Despite how little the screenings had been publicized though, the turnout was pretty impressive.

With the relatively small amount of publicity given to the premiere, I would have been surprised if there were more than a handful at any showing. Given the large turnout at my local theater though, maybe it just shows that the anime community is stronger than anyone would’ve thought. Imagine what could have happened if a bigger marketing force was thrown behind the endeavor. Sold-out theaters? Multiple screenings? More plush-hugging cosplayers? I was beginning to be skeptical about the willingness of anime fans to lay down money to support their hobby, but tonight proved me wrong, at least in my corner of the country.
Convention Tips for the Jaded Con-goer
by Bamboo Dong on Wed Jun 28, 2006 3:06 pm
To me, Anaheim has always represented two things: Disneyland... and Anime Expo. Well, that and the Mighty Ducks, but with their hideous new jerseys, I could probably strike them off my list.

Over the years, I've been to countless anime conventions, but AX is probably my favorite. It could be the beautiful SoCal weather, the laid-back nature of the convention, or just the hilarity of seeing Soras stroll down the Downtown Disney walkways. (Then again, my first experience was soured when I scored a $90 ticket in Long Beach for jaywalking. I still have it framed on my wall.)

After awhile though, my conventions started becoming a bit of a tired event. I went to conventions to do work, to interview people, and... well, to do work. Every convention you go to, it gets easier to easier to burn out. But sometimes, it's the small things that remind you why you went for the first time, and it's the small things that you've never done before that can really make your weekend.

If you get bored this weekend at AX, here's a checklist of things you can do to bring back that old con spark. If you don't find a morsel of happiness anywhere, I'll eat my hat.

First time at some of this? Think you're too cool for it? Humiliated? Please. Don't waste your time being embarrassed. For starters, you're at an anime convention. You're not too cool for anything.

1. Sing karaoke with a friend.
The most fun I've ever had at a convention was trying to bust out a Kenshin image song with a random stranger back in 2000. Once you realize you suck, you can forget about impressing people and just let loose and have fun.

2. Buy something stupid.
I've spent thousands of dollars on useless trinkets and pencilboards. It's sad. But sometimes, there's that one bizarre object that's SO damned nerdy that you can't *HELP* but piss yourself in glee. Embrace the nerd within. Even better? No buyers remorse, because everyone else in your hotel room will think your DR bounty is freakin' awesome too. Personally, I'm loving the Hideaki Anno action figure.

3. Get to know the people you admire.
You don't have to drink to have fun. If you're looking for some quiet fun at night, wander by the hotel bar. There's always a good chance you can meet a few guests and industry folk, so take the time (remember: decorum.) to get to know some of the people behind the works you love. You'll be surprised how warm and friendly everyone is. Plus, you'll make new friends.

4. Cosplay.
No, no, save your tomatoes for your next salad; I've already had lunch. Don't knock the cosplay unless you've tried it. Sure, it's wicked nerdy, but every cosplayer will tell you there's something exciting about pouring your heart and soul into a costume. That two seconds of recognition you get when someone clicks the shutter is amazing and props for a job well done. It may be too late to make an outfit, but start thinking about next year. If you see a costume you admire, ask the cosplayer how s/he constructed certain parts; just about everyone will be happy to share some tips with you.

5. Stray out in the middle of the night.
Yes, everyone tells you to get good sleep, eat well, yada yada, but for just one night, wander around at 4 in the morning. The convention scene at night is vastly different from the scene in the morning. Go cheer on some tabletop gamers. Go chat with a random group of strangers in the lobby. Anime fans are some of the friendliest people I know, so if you're looking for some new faces to know, late night forays can be quite the excitement, especially since sleep dep. will make you drop any nervousness or shyness you have.

Got any more tips for the well-traveled, wary con-goer? Share them with the world!
From Pleasure Nights to boy bands
by Bamboo Dong on Fri Jun 23, 2006 9:45 am
As of late, more and more live-action discs have been arriving at my doorstep. Frankly, I love it. Whether it's ADV's release of Vermillion Pleasure Nights (reviewed in Shelf Life #104), a late-night Japanese variety show, or Geneon's instructional para para dance video (to be reviewed in Shelf Life #105), it's a far cry from the usual anime titles. For starters, there aren't many anime series whose laughs revolve around pushing mannequins in a river.

It's certainly not new for anime companies to release live-action titles. For years, titles ranging from anywhere from Farscape to Boogiepop to Media Blasters' entire Tokyo Shock line have been gracing shelves, but honestly, I wouldn't mind more.

Personally, I'm thirsting to see more Asian dramas. I'd do just about anything to have titles like Beautiful Life and Long Vacation on my bookshelf, and I'd love to have an English-subbed version of Meteor Garden. But, is there really a market for these kinds of things? Sure, the American consumer market snaps up DVD boxed sets like crazy, but with something so niche as Asian dramas, would they even budge off the shelves?

For some insight into drama licensing, I talked to someone over at Media Blasters. They've certainly carved a name for themselves releasing Asian cinema; just a quick look at their website will show all the goodies they have available. (Personally, I'm a fan of their Guilty Pleasures line. Bikers from Hell??? A+ for awesome!)

Even so, I'd like to see more Asian dramas. Sure, they have the Zatoichi series, and it's been doing well, and they'll make/have made plenty of happy customers happy with the GTO and Cromartie High movies (me included), but if those do well, why not the GTO live-action series? Why not more?

One would assume licensing costs would be the primary factor, but it's surprisingly not the case. Right now, it's just a matter of fitting in with their current lineup. But hey, since what drama titles they do have are doing well, it's probably just a matter of time until they dip their toe into the J-drama pool.

According to MB, another big factor in licensing decisions for live-action material is what people around the office enjoy, or what management thinks will do well.

Solution? We lock them in a room with a 6-foot hoagie and a couple cases of Nattie Light (mm, tastes like undergrad!) and make them watch Asian dramas until they surrender to the power of Kimutaku and F4.
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