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
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
Back to my girly interests, I stumbled upon the shoujo manga, Switch Girl!!, a while back. I was wondering what exactly a “switch girl” was. Turns out, I think we all definitely have one in all of us.
Meet Tamiya Nika. She’s a popular high school student who is up to date on the latest fashions. Everyone has their ideal version of her but when she’s at home, her switch is OFF! At home, Nika wears frumpy sweats, pulls back her hair, and wears glasses. Her personality also changes where she’s lazy and lays around all day. When she’s out shopping, she’ll even go far out of her way to make sure she’s not seen. One day, a classmate of her’s, Kamiyama Arata, finds out about Nika’s “switch.” He agrees to keep silent as long as she does as well. Arata keeps a similar secret where he’ll wear large, distracting glasses and mess up his hair while he’s at school. While he’s home alone, he ditches the guise and is incredibly attractive!
The series is incredibly funny where we realize we all are like Nika to varying degrees. When we finally meet her family, we realize they’re all the same as well! This is a story of keeping up image while also keeping to your true self. It’s funny, cute, and just incredibly relatable.
If you’re also interested, a live action version of this series as been made! The series started airing in Japan last December! Nishiuchi Mariya stars as Nika and Kiriyama Renn stars as Arata. Check out the teaser to the drama below!
By Lara Visconti
Every girl has a girly side, whether they like to show it or not. As for me, I enjoy relaxing with a hot cup of tea and reading shoujo manga. In my search for something new, I came across Stepping on Roses (Hadashi de Bara wo Fume) by Rinko Ueda. It’s definitely got one of those stereotypical shoujo comic key words (Roses) so we know what we’re in for.
The plot goes a little something like this. We follow our female protagonist, Sumi Kitamura in the year Meji 25. She and her older brother are extremely poor and keep bringing in foster children to take care of. Because her brother is always gambling, they can never keep a stable source of income. A debt collector suddenly shows at their house but, of course, they are unable to pay. The collector says he will take Sumi and the kids and sell them into slavery. In a desperate attempt for money, Sumi decides to go into the red light district to raise money in one night. While Sumi is about to give up, Soichiro Ashida approaches Sumi with an offer. He will purchase her on the conditions that she will marry him and not fall in love with him but he will provide her with anything she needs for her and her family.
It really wasn’t the plot that attracted me so much as it was the art. Something about it was inviting and well put together. The pacing is great but there were some part of the story that struck me as odd. The series is complete in Japan as of this past March but it’s only on it’s 7th volume here in the States. The story takes a strange turn of events as we enter some sort of love… square, then triangle? I guess that’s the point of any shoujo manga. Crazy love… shapes, innocent feelings with a dash of “How in the world did those girls get in that situation in the first place?” This manga will do that to you.
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
Congratulations!! You have just taken your first steps into the world of Cosplay! We welcome you. As a cosplayer, you will face many hardships (such as jammed sewing machines, tailoring, and dull scissors) as well as many joys (like your first award, or the first time someone asks for your picture). However, it’s dangerous to go alone! So here, take this….advice to get you started on the right track.
Choosing your Character
The most important part to a successful cosplay is choosing a character you can transform yourself into easily; meaning, be confident and proud of yourself and your body, but be aware of it as well. What I’m trying to say is, if you don’t have a similar body to a 12 year old school girl, don’t cosplay as one! As my friends and fellow cosplayers like to put it, I have a body built for fan service. One of my biggest cosplay mistakes was making a costume to portray Haruhi Fujioka from Ouran High School Host Club. For those of you not familiar with the series, Haruhi pretends to she is a male student at the Ouran Academy. I looked awful, and the only picture i had as been erased from exisistance. So please remember the importance of choosing a character that you can convincingly pull off.
patterns, Patters, PATTERNS
USE PATTERNS!!!! God donut I cannot stress this enough. If you are an inexperienced seamstress find a pattern! Patterns can be adjusted to your specific needs relatively easily and are inexpensive. All you need to do is find a pattern that has the same basic shape as the costume you are trying to make. As you gain experience, you can dive into pattern making, but it is a complicated process full of trial and error. Use cosplay forums to see if anyone has already recommended a pattern for your costume.
There is a TON of fabric out there, more than you will ever know: silk, chiffon, polyester blends, wool, cotton, organza, tweed. The list goes on and on. For your first few costumes, and as often as you can after, use basic structure fabrics like cotton or a polyester blend. They are the easiest to work with, often the cheapest, do not pull as easily, and leave behind marks a lot less than other fabrics when fixing hems and seams. If you do choose to work with a pattern, on the back and on the inside of the pattern envelope you will find a list of suggested materials. I highly recommend you listen to the suggestions. If you have no other choice and are forced to work with a material you are not familiar with, do your research. There are plenty of pent-up house wives who convinced their husbands to buy expensive computers, and are proving it was worth the money by blogging about their recipes and sewing prowess. LISTEN TO THESE HOUSEWIVES!
Pick a Pose
Find your characters signature, or iconic stance and use it. You can find a ton of pictures of cosplayers who made good costumes, but couldn’t pull it off in the photograph. That is what separates a cosplayer from someone in a costume. Practice in front of a mirror, or have someone take pictures of you in your costume. Learn what angles flatters your face and your body and practice that pose!! It will take your cosplay to a whole other level.
By: Melanie Braverman
With a title like that, I don’t know how you can go wrong. Shirokuma Café is a manga created in 2006 by Aloha Higa with an anime adaption airing this past April.
The premise of this series follows around a select few animals and how they interact with humans. Their local meeting spot is a café run by Polar Bear. The main three animals are Polar Bear, Panda, and Penguin, each with their own distinct personality.
This has been my favorite anime series of the year thus far. It’s such an odd idea for a manga/anime but it works well. Polar Bear’s puns, Penguin’s love for Ms. Penko and Panda’s laziness had drawn me in immediately. What gets me wondering is if I’d like it as much if it were all humans or all animals in the show. There’s a good balance between human and animals that makes it very enjoyable.
I’m sure a ton of you have seen the gifs from the show already wondering what it is. The questions have been answered! Have fun watching!
By Lara Visconti