Planning for Nendoroid More: Costume Parts is Announced
Nendoroid Moreis a new line focusing on add-ons for Nendoroids. Previously, this series has…
I don’t know why I didn’t subscribe sooner but I am now a subscribed member of Crunchyroll! I’d been irrationally put off by the cost to start off with but within two weeks of being a member I’ve already watched all of Sakimichi no Apollon (Kids on the Slope) as well as getting the latest anime streaming in high-definition at the same time they air in Japan. That alone is worth the cost of subscription and I’ve still got 50 weeks to go!
Nendoroid Shinku: Rozen Maiden Set is Available for Pre-Order and Previewed by Kahotan
Ah … finally, the first Nendoroid from Rozen Maiden series is announced. Yes, starting today, Nend…
Here’s my mid-season update for Summer 2013 anime, with what I have been enjoying and what I’ve decided to drop!
Free (as of episode 5)
Free, the swimming club series that deliberately puts sexy boys into a scenario that you’d normally see sexy girls in, is making waves in the anime community (pun intended). Some people love it for it’s parody of cliched anime scenarios and some hate it because, well, it’s all about the service?
I personally love it, especially considering how succesfuly Kyoto Animation is challenging fan’s preconceptions and how expertly they have integrated the male characters with a story and style that you would have expected to favour female characters.
If you haven’t watched it yet, I would recommend watching a couple of episodes before making your mind up. The animation quality is great, the story has better development and drama than your average Kyoto Animation offering of late and the cherry on the icing is the catchy ending song!
Genshiken Nidaime (as of episode 5)
I’m enjoying this as much as the first season of Genshiken but although the format remains the same, the focus and story has made a huge shift to exploring the world of female otaku.
I always find the self-reflective portrayal of otaku in anime interesting and despite not being able to empathise with the opposite gender it’s still an interesting show.
I’m really glad the older characters haven’t been completely neglected and while some characters are elusive (e.g. Saki), my favourite Madarame is getting plenty of air time.
Gin no Saji (as of episode 5)
Gin no Saji is an extremely refreshing series, despite falling into the slice-of-life genre. I think what makes it most endearing is how down to earth it feels, much helped by the agricultural setting.
I’m wondering what the reception for this series is like in Japan. I am naively assuming that the average city-living and otaku’s exposure to farming is less than we are used to in the UK, so whilst Gin no Saji’s scenario has a undefinable familiarity to me I wonder what the Japanese conception of it is like.
I’m really hoping that it has a positive reaction in Japan as I’d love to see more series set outside of the cities and bringing more rural Japan to animated life.
Stella (as of episode 5)
Stella has turned out to be an expected but somehow slightly disappointing shallow show. It’s not surprising then that I’ve dropped it!
Stella fits into the category of anime where you get a group of girls in a club and the story develops so minutely that, if it wasn’t for the charm of the character’s personalities, it would very easy to dismiss. The animation isn’t that great either, especially considering what studios are capable of these days.
If you like series about groups of cute girls purely because they’re about groups of cute girls, then this will be right up your street. If you’re looking for some depth, look elsewhere.
Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi (as of episode 5)
I can’t quite put my finger on what this show is trying to be. With the premise revolving around a world without God where the dead can still live until finally laid to rest by a Gravekeeper, I was half expecting something like Higurashi. What it actually is, is much harder to define.
It has an art style with dark, warm colours but then throws in shonen-style characters and cute female characters. The story explores ideas such as cities of the dead, the living joining the dead and the dead being put to rest, but then there is comedy and moe moments that seem really strangely juxtaposed.
I think the issue that this anime has is that it is an exploration of an idea, rather than being a story with a strong plot. Whilst it’s interesting, it’s not what I was hoping for and I think a much stronger contrast between the horror and the naivety of characters needs to be present, as well as a clear plot line that connects events and characters.
Rozen Maiden (as of episode 1)
Although I really enjoyed the original series, I just couldn’t get into the new Rozen Maiden series at all.
Even though it’s aimed readers of the original manga, I found the opening episode patronising rather than memory refreshing and it really didn’t get me in the mood to watch the rest of the series.
It would have been much better if this new series had put some effort into covering the earlier parts of the story; this would have made it accessible for both old and new fans alike.
Servant x Service (as of episode 5)
When I started this I really hoped I was going to like it and luckily I have!
Being slice-of-life and set in a not-too-dissimilar environment to that I work in, it’s easy to emphasise with. What I’m most pleased about is that the story does actually include decent romantic comedy and there is a healthy balance between the number of female and male characters.
If it hadn’t of been for this, it would have ended up being a fairly average series but I think it’s definitely above average and an improvement on the Working! series.
I really hope this show encourages more working-age stories to be adopted into anime in the future, reflecting my and probably other fans changing tastes in anime as they age.
Hero Gangu - Osaka (those micro-men and assembleborgs ;_;)
Another haunt I’ve been to!
Ayacon 2013 figure gets… I just couldn’t help myself…
- Yomoko Readman from ‘Read or Die’ figure by Kotobukiya
- Mecha Musume trading figure
- Neco-Arc Petit Nendoroid
- Mikuru Asahina rock band version Petit Nendoroid
- Yuki Nagato rock band version Petit Nendoroid
- Kyon rock band version Petit Nendoroid
- Stheno from ‘Fate/Hollow Ataraxia’ Petit Nendoroid
I’ve got to get my hands on that Gendo figure and add it to my small but surprisingly mostly complete collection of Gendo figures…
Ayacon 2013 was undeniably a great convention and many will be very sad to see it go with it having been the final Ayacon. However, Ayacon was suffering from a problem. In fact, it’s a problem that’s far from being unique to Ayacon. It’s the problem that when you run events, there is an unwritten expectation that each event has to be better than the last.
When an event become one of the UK’s best, where is there to go? Going bigger and better means working harder, for everybody involved. The risk of failure grows and no convention wants to be seen falling from grace. Alternatively, the event may choose not to expand but this risks creating a stagnant experience that drives some people away and makes it easier for the competition to overtake.
The final option, which Ayacon has chosen to take, is to exit the scene with it’s reputation held high and to leave a lasting positive memory in the minds of con-goers.
Whilst my opening paragraphs might make me sound like a seasoned Ayacon attendee, the truth is that this was my first and of course will be my last time attending Ayacon. Since my wife and I attended Amecon 2012, you might see a few comparisons between Ayacon and Amecon throughout this review!
This was the first time I have been to any event at Warwick University and I’m pleased to say it provides a great location for hosting a large convention. The facilities and rooms are spacious and well-equipped with the bonus of being within a relatively small area. Unfortunately I can’t comment on the accommodation as I stayed off-site but I didn’t hear any complaints.
Having driven to Ayacon and heavily depending on the available car parking, I found the information for this was poor compared to Amecon 2012. As the Ayacon website claimed that parking was free for attendees, I would have liked to have at least a conference parking pass to display in my car or be able to register my car registration with the University. In the end, I just parked in the car park available and hoped for the best!
Although Ayacon made good use of numerous rooms and facilities, my wife and I couldn’t help but feel that there were too many people and too many areas to hang out. This made it difficult to spend any decent amount of time with friends - and to me being with friends makes the difference between a good con and a great con. I feel that it’s this sentiment that makes the timing of the last Ayacon right, rather than trying to grow it any further.
There was also no apparent means of disseminating messages and alterations to the schedule across the site. Luckily though, I don’t think there were any cancellations or serious delay to events, which is quite rare indeed!
The Con Schedule booklet was for the most part comprehensive but it needed a guide to which rooms were in which buildings. Whilst it’s not so much of a problem for regulars, it was a little confusing being a first timer and with the number of places on site.
I found that, apart from the odd poster, there wasn’t much evidence of the Apocalypse theme throughout the events. Since it formed part of the marketing of Ayacon, I would have liked to see it embedded into the events a bit more.
In terms of events and panels, there were plenty taking place but few that either of us felt compelled to go to. Of course, this is dependant on who volunteers but there were a few times where we were left wondering what to do. I’ll carry on by talking about those events and panels that we did attend.
My wife and I were a bit anxious about taking our Dollfie Dreams to the Doll Meet on the Friday, as we were unsure how the presence of non-resin dolls would be received, but we went and enjoyed chatting to a couple of people who were curious about the Dollfies Dreams but hadn’t seen them in the flesh, so to speak.
Anime Room 101 was great fun! For those who aren’t familiar with the format of the TV show, guests are given the opportunity to suggest something that should be ‘put in Room 101’ and be banished. The host sometime plays devil’s advocate before deciding whether to permit the thing into Room 101. Of course, in this context the panel had an anime/convention spin on it. Whilst I didn’t agree with the first suggestion of the Dealer’s Room (I love my merchandise!), most of the rest of the suggestions I agreed with - including something I didn’t know about, the belief by some people that they possess the reincarnated souls of anime characters…
We were really excited to see Shonen Knife, a Japanese pop/rock group, play live on the Friday evening. Since we’ve been watching stuff like Beck recently, it almost felt like being at a live house! Although a lot of their songs were similar to each other and it felt like there were too many times the gig was about to end when it didn’t, I still had a great time listening to their music and shame on people for not dancing more!
On Saturday, we went to Akemi Solloway’s History of the Kimono panel. Although it can be interesting listening to her sometimes, it wasn’t her best presented panel (consisting mostly of her looking at a PowerPoint presentation) and we almost fell asleep during it!
On Sunday, at a friend’s suggestion we went to the Anison Armeggedon panel on Sunday morning. This panel normally reviews and scores the current year’s anime songs. With it being the last Ayacon though, the songs being reviewed were taken from 1998 - the first year that Ayacon ran. I felt that the panel was unduly harsh on the opening of Kare Kano and often gave similar scores to each other without really providing much individual critique to songs, but overall it was enjoyable and I’d like to see more of this format of panel in the future.
The Working in Japan panel was interesting but I think it lacked focus. At points it sounded like advice for going on holiday to Japan, rather than working and living there permenantly. A lot of obscure terms were also used, such as Kuroneko (for Kuro Neko Yamato, a Japanese courier service), which would be fine if your audience was experienced with Japanese life but for most people it would have been more confusing than explanatory.
We went to the ending ceremony (of course) and were promised epic footage of Ayacon from over the years, but unfortunately didn’t get it. The acts were OK, though I find the comedy acts tend to be more enjoyable than the singing and dancing acts. Finally, That Man gave a hilarious video on how anime can both save and destroy you…
Overall, we felt that Friday was the best day for events. There was very little of interest to us on Saturday and not much more on Sunday. I’ll continue on by reviewing some of the things that were common to the whole weekend.
We brought quite a bit of stuff along to sell in the Bring and Buy, and although we initially thought it would be great to be able to bring up to 60 items each, we discovered that in practice it’s too much. There was a lot of unsold manga and this contributed to the chaos collecting items at end of the weekend - I spent over an hour waiting to collect everything that hadn’t sold! I’d just like to extend a big thank you to the gophers working on the Bring and Buy, as it must have been sheer hell for them.
I thought it was good to have the Bring and Buy and the dealers together in one room. This meant just one queue and no difficult decisions deciding to prioritise one over the other! There was plenty of stuff on offer and I picked up a few small interesting figures along with some DVD collections I had been after for some time, so I’m pleased with my purchases.
We popped by the extremely spacious games room a few times over the course of the weekend. There was lots of games, including board and card games, but there always plenty of people about and the games we most wanted to go on (DDR for me!) were often busy. I know it’s not easy but maybe putting some house rules into place, such as only playing a game once when there’s a queue, would be nice!
There were plenty of parties but somehow they didn’t have the same atmosphere as those at Amecon. I think this boils down to the same issue I mentioned earlier with there being too many areas, even just for partying in the evenings. I’d like to thank DJ Bluestreak for playing Shine (from Hellsing), one of the first anime songs I got into, not once but twice at the Anime Classics party. I would just like to say to those partying outside - please clear up your rubbish! I’m all for partying but it’s nice to be able to show to others that you can be considerate as well.
All in all, we did have a good weekend and it felt like a professionally organised event. What I would have liked is a bit more of the lively, party atmosphere that made Amecon 2012 great. With Ayacon now having left the scene, I hope that those who supported it’s organisation will help out with other events and add to them the Ayacon professionalism.