Your first time in a judging room can be a frightening experience. You’ll be standing in front of panel of 3-10 experts of the craft, dressed in the costume you spent months working on that you were really proud of up until 5 minutes ago, wondering why you didn’t redo that imperfect seam, or why you chose that shade of green when the other fabric was such the better option (although 4x the cost). Over and over I hear the biggest regret of those that participate in cosplay contests is that they were so nervous during the judging that they forgot to mention a piece of their costume that they are really proud of. I’m here to give you a little insight into what the judging room is like and a few tips that may get you on the panel’s good side.
1) The judges……are there to judge. Shocker I know. However, cosplayers sometimes forget that the judges are not like the other convention-goers who stop you and ask for your picture while complimenting you on your cosplay prowess. They are there to find the strengths and weakness of your costume, and compare it to other costumes. That is what they are there to do. Judge costumes, and figure out which one was best.
2) They will pick apart your costume. Be prepared to be tugged, touched, twirled, tapped, and other “t” verbs. They will lift skirts to inspect seams, stare into your eyes to see if you shelled out the extra $20 for the circle lenses, and a lot of other things that seem odly similar to an airport security check.
3) I have found, that Hall of Cosplay judges are much more quiet and reserved than the Cosplay judging portion of a Masquerade competition. Masquerade judges are a little more friendly, and give their opinion more the HoC judges. This is because there is more than one judging requirment for the masquerade, and masquerade judges have a longer time period to judge all the costumes in the group. Masquerade judges are scheduled to last about 15 minutes, and HoC judging only last between 2-3 minutes. Not a lot of time for chit-chat :/. HoC judges look intimidating and mean, but they are just trying to be impartial because the 2 minutes you are standing in front of them is all they have.
So there’s 3 things to expect inside the judging room. Now here’s some tips to help calm your nerves and make you well prepared for the judging room!
1) Present your references professionaly! You should consider the judging room to be like an interview. Are you going to hand your potential future boss your resume/portfolio that’s been folding and wrinkled?? Hopfully the answer is no. Take pictures of your progress, and in a Word document, add a brief description of what the picture is showing. Take your “instruction book” with a few reference images you got from google, and put it in a binder, or one of those plastic essay covers that your 4th grade teacher made you turn all your essays in with. It’s a really impressive presentation and shows how much you effort you really put in. It also helps in case you forget to mention an important aspect of your cosplay construction.
2) Have and index card pointing out all of the impressive aspects of injinuity and creativity your cosplay contains. Each year there has been something I forgot to told the judges that I wish I had. Don’t be like me….BRING AN INDEX CARD!!
3) Relax :) I know, I know…I sound like your mother right before your SATs or a big dance recitial. However, its the truth. 99.99% of cosplayers do make it out of the judging room alive. The more relaxed you are, the less likely you are to forget something, and the more you can really enjoy the experience as a whole.
By: Melanie Braverman
Studio Ghibli’s has released a trailer for an English subtitled version of their movie “From Up on Poppy Hill.” The movie had already been released in Japan last year in July. An English dubbed version is in the works and this film will be in theaters for a limited time from September 13-26.
From Up on Poppy Hill is a movie which is based off of a Japanese comic of the same name. Here’s what the description says:
Set in Yokohama, From Up On Poppy Hill is a high school love story that take place in the year before the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics. As the country begins to pick itself up from the devastation of the Second World War, the new generation struggles to move towards a prosperous future whilst trying not to lose the essence of their past. The film’s rich and vibrant animation captures the entrancing beauty of Yokohama’s harbour and lush surrounding hillsides and, with a soundtrack that draws inspiration from the finest music of the time, perfectly captures the thrills of young romance and the hope of a new dawn.
The film looks absolutely beautiful. As a huge Studio Ghibli fan, I’ll definitely try to see this movie!
By Lara Visconti
It’s been a week since Otakon has ended. We’re still reminiscing about how much fun we had! Myself and fellow writer Melanie Braverman headed to Baltimore, Maryland last week and prepared ourselves for a ton of fun! We even came prepared with our own hand-made cosplays!
Otakon was definitely bigger than before. Every year, we always see an increase in con-goers. We weren’t surprised with the large number of over 32,000 attendees. If Otakon sold daily passes, I’m sure the number of individual attendees would rise… but where would we put everyone? Otakon’s always crowded but crowded with a ton of people who all share similar interests. What’s not to like?
Because Melanie and I wore our cosplays both Friday and Saturday, it was a little hard to really get a good look at all of the panels and other events since it would take us a while to get ready. We’ve always found that being in costume for Otakon has been that much more fun even though we missed out on a few panels. Just by being in costume, we were able to meet even more people who shared the same interests and make new friends.
Saturday night, we decided to go watch the masquerade. This was our first year not participating in it ourselves but it was a good experience to see what others can come up with in terms of a skit and costume. There were people who did solo skits and some who did larger group dance skits. From sitting in the audience, these are the common trends we saw: Party Rocking (LMFAO), Ballet, Live Performances (not pre-recorded dialog), and Michael Jackson. Remember, if anyone plans on entering the masquerade next year, I would highly suggest not doing any of those. I would say that I personally was disappointed with the skits this year but I can only hope they’ll be better next year. Who knows, maybe we’ll participate again.
On Sunday, everyone takes time to catch up with the Dealers Room and the Artists Alley. The lines to get into these rooms were ridiculously long but I can only assume it was tough trying to accommodate all of the people trying to get last minute items (myself included).
Overall, this Otakon was fun. Meeting new people is one of my favorite things and I’ve also learned new things to improve on my cosplaying skills. I’ve never really had a bad experience with people at Otakon and everyone is incredibly friendly. The panels are great, the anime and other movie showings are fun, and the guests just keep on coming.
I’m expecting great things for next year’s Otakon that will be August 9-11, 2013! See you there!
By Lara Visconti
Some people just have all the bad luck in the world. As for high school teacher Nozomu Itoshiki, it comes with the name. When writing his name horizontally, it looks like 絶望 (zetsubou) which means “despair.”
When we first meet “Zetusbou-Sensei,” he tries to commit suicide by hanging himself from a sakura tree. He is saved by a high school student, Kafuka Fuura, who tells him how it makes no sense to her why someone would hang themselves on such a nice day in front of nice trees. After Nozomu goes to class after his foiled suicide attempt, he realizes Kafuka is his student. This is the start of Nozomu’s challenge to overcome all of the different personality quirks of each of his students.
This series for me is hard to explain in words. My main recommendations is to jump in and find out more about the series! The manga has been adapted into several series as well. This series started back in 2005 and just ended last month but it’s been such a great read. It’s amazing how very observant and analytical one part of Japanese culture can be and how relatable or foreign it is in the end. If something like that interests you, than this is the series you need to read or watch. I’ve stuck with the series for years and the end of the series is something you’ll have to stick around for.
Check out the opening to the anime below!
By Lara Visconti
The Sailor Moon 20th Anniversary celebration didn’t let us down! It’s been announced that a new Sailor Moon anime will be released in the summer of 2013!
Girl group Momoiro Clover Z who attended the group will be performing the new theme song. At the event, they also covered the iconic theme song “Moonlight Densetsu.”
Unfortunately, not much has been announced yet but we are definitely eagerly awaiting the comeback of one of our favorite magical girls!
Check out the full version of the Sailor Moon theme song, Moonlight Densetsu!
With the Sailor Moon franchise celebrating it’s 20th anniversary, I decided to find some hilarious edits that were done for the English version of this anime. As many of you know, the Sailor Moon Stars series was never brought to the US so we can only imagine what was done to the series from the beginning.
Fisheye is revealed to be a man in the Japanese version but in America, he is permanently changed to a woman. In this scene, Fisheye rips off her shirt to reveal she is actually a man… but it doesn’t work out so well in the edit.
The English dub of the show was also known for having these animated scene transitions everywhere whether it was stars across the screen or a picture of a tiara. These are simply nowhere to be found in the Japanese versions of the show.
This video definitely the dialog we were exposed to as a kid… After finding my VHS of the show, I couldn’t believe how terrible some of the lines were. Some of these are rushed and some just simply don’t make sense. They make for a great laugh though.
The transformations had subtle differences. Incredibly subtle that if no one had pointed it out, I really wouldn’t have noticed. Besides the different music and voices, DiC had edited the footage so that the girls bodies would be less defined and more vague. Seriously? I wouldn’t have gotten that at all.
The infamous change in the whole Sailor Moon series: Neptune and Uranus. America thought it was a brilliant idea to change them to cousins instead of lovers. Awfully close for cousins, huh? Seems more than just a “practical joke.”
Oh, and this. This could’ve been a thing. Thank you DiC for not letting this happen.
Happy 20th anniversary, Sailor Moon!
By Lara Visconti
The inner magical girl in me is extremely exited to know that Sailor Moon is celebrating it’s 20th anniversary of the series!
A special event will be broadcasted July 6th in Japan where actors Kotono Mitsuishi (Sailor Moon) and Toru Furuya (Tuxedo Mask) will be attending and talking about the anime.
Since not all of us live in Japan, we can’t exactly catch it on TV but not all is lost. Watch the live broadcast at the link below on July 6th!
By Lara Visconti
Happy first day of summer! You know what this means? New anime for the season! I’ve always been a sucker for quirky, slice of life anime. One that I’m excited for is called Moyashimon Returns! I watched the complete first season and absolutely loved it. So what is this about?
This series follows Tadayasu Sawaki who is just entering his first year in an agricultural college. But he enters this field for a reason. He has the incredibly unique ability to see micro-organisms with the naked eye. To top it off, he can interact and talk with them as well. He’s guided by one of the professors, Keizo Itsuki, who is friends with Tadayasu’s grandfather, and his assistant Haruka Hasegawa. After several obstacles, Tadayasu learns to cope with his talent and make new friends.
I don’t know how else to describe this series except by saying it’s incredibly cute, heartwarming, and it has it’s comedic moments. So, keep a look out for the upcoming second season, which will be released this July!
By Lara Visconti
Do you have a costume ready to be shared with the world, a love of fierce competition, and a theater minor you never really got a chance to use? Well you’re in luck! Anime conventions all across the world have incorporated masquerades into their schedule. What is a masquerade you ask? Well, a masquerade is a competition where participants dress up in their best costumes and perform various skits in front of judges and an audience that showcases both talent, and costume making skills.
As an experienced masquerade participant, I have seen some amazing skits, and some not so amazing ones. I’m here today to highlight some important aspects of award winning skits to aid you in your planning.
1) Show Us Your Stuff
Do you have a hidden talent? Are you a black belt, singer, dancer, acrobat, musician, or magician? If you are, then SHOW US! If you have spent years perfecting a craft, pick a character that relates to your skill set, and incorporate it into your skit. A very well-known cosplay group full of black belt martial artists often participates in masquerades as street fighter or mortal combat characters. They have won a lot of awards and have accumulated a large fan base because they use the skills they have been perfecting since childhood. Don’t have a special talent? Don’t worry, we have tips for you too!
2) Make ‘Em Laugh!
If you don’t have a special talent or skill (or even if you do) a great way to earn points from the judges and favor from the audience is with humor. All of the skits that myself and the “Straight Line Association” cosplay group has done that used humor have earned us a major cosplay award. In the Otakon masquerade rules and guidelines, they ask participants to keep a skit short, but funny. We’ll get into what kind of jokes to use in the later sections of this article.
3) Focus on the Lowest Common Denominator
What does math have to do with cosplay you ask? Don’t worry it’s simple. While you may be obsessed with the obscure underground manga your friend in Japan introduced you to, most of the audience, and maybe even the judges, will have absolutely no idea what you’re referencing. The most appreciated skits focus on characters that even the biggest anime noob will recognize: included but not limited to…Pokemon, Sailormoon, Dragon Ball Z, Legend of Zelda, and the Mario franchise will all suffice. When in doubt, ask your parents if they recognize the characters. Anime and manga that are popular among Japanese pop culture fans that the rest of the world wouldn’t recognize (like black butler, ao no exorcist) will work as well.
4) Pop Culture References
I cannot stress this enough. Unless your skit includes aspects discussed in section 1 of this article, you almost HAVE to add a pop culture reference into your skit. Most of the time it is an American pop culture reference. You can either take the reference and add it into the universe that your character’s story takes place in, or take your characters and put them into the reference. I will give you an example of both. My cosplay group premiered a skit at Otakon in 2010 that revolved around the annoying pokegear phone calls you constantly get in the Pokemon games. We used Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” for our skit, but rewrote the lyrics. We brought Lady Gaga into the Pokemon World.
One of my favorite skits merges Kingdom Hearts and the Fairly Odd Parents. Timmy Turner wishes that his life could be like Sora’s in Kingdom Hearts. Instead of throwing Timmy and his Godparents into the world of Kingdom Hearts, Sora and the heartless were brought to Dimsdale. It placed second in the Matsuri 2008 cosplay finalist show.
5) Shake it Baby!
When all else fails….DANCE! The audience and the judges love to watch a well-choreographed dance. It’s very entertaining to watch and goes back to that lower common denominator we talked about before. Make your whole skit a dance number, or incorporate it at some point into the skit. Make sure you practice and it looks well put together and clean.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure your costume looks as good as your skit. “Best in [insert your skill category here]” awards are judged by performance AND costume. So please don’t forget to put just as much time into your costume as you do your skit. I also suggest working with a group. Working and performing with a group is a lot of fun, and group skits often place higher than solo skits.
By Melanie Braverman
OK, folks. I’ve been a fan of this anime, (or basically anything GAINAX does) since two years ago. And to finally see this odd little gem of an anime get its own uncensored, raunchy, oversexed dub of its own has gotten me all hot and bothered.
FUNimation had actually picked this up a little while ago. Back in April of 2011. Almost soon after Panty and Stocking had finished airing in Japan. And so it began.
If you guys have watched this series, or have only heard of it’s potty-mouth-glory-holed humor and haven’t seen it yet. Now is no better time. The dubbed version, from FUNimation sounds excellent, as always. Just have a watch from the trailer below!
By Sebastian “Blibbles” Visconti