Niko (Level 8)

Back from recording over three hours of @CineGeek webcasts. Now to get to @MTAC work... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
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(Crossposted from NikoScream)

OMGcon is a fourth-year convention in Paducah, KY.  That’s basically right on the border of Kentucky and Illinois.  It’s a fairly small town, and the small con complements it. It’s attendance last year was around 600, and it does seem to have grown from when I last attended in 2007. It’s held at JR’s Executive Inn, which is right on the Ohio River and actually fits the convention quite well with elbow room.

OMGcon is a smaller con than I usually go to and blog about, and that has its perks. People seemed far more willing to talk to us at the MTAC table than at larger cons like AWA or Ohayocon. The people in general, from staff to volunteers to congoers,  seemed generally friendlier than the larger conventions with multiple thousands I’ve been to. That holds especially true to con chair Daniel Dodd and his wife and executive officer Gabrielle. I’ve talked with them at con trips and at MTAC where they had a booth, and they’ve been nothing but nice. We, my friend/fellow MTAC staffer and I, were just going to walk around and hand out fliers, but they let us use an extra table they had. Very kind of them.

OMGcon also really enjoys being giving to its attendees, having hundreds of giveaway items. That includes over 200 anime DVDs and over 100 manga volumes, as said in their program guide.

Speaking of the program guide, that’s one of the unique things I like about OMGcon. The guide itself is a simple enough book with all the necessary info, but it comes in a DVD case that has a cover for this year’s con. OMGcon has been doing this every one of its four years to my knowledge. I first saw it at the second OMGcon in 2007, my first. For $5 each, attendees can buy an OMGcon DVD to go with the DVD case. The DVD likely includes footage from the entire convention that I would often see them filming.

OMGcon also has some interesting events. While the otaku dating game seems questionable (didn’t see it), the cosplay chess that I did see looked like fun. The gaming rooms were well laid out and seemed to have something for everyone, even rooms just dedicated to LANs and tournaments. There was even a map of the gaming rooms in the program guide showing what game was played where in the room, something I thought was pretty nifty.

Really, the only downsides I could think of are fairly picky and opinion-based. The guests were all the same as last year, which is great for people who really loved them and not so much for people wanting more variety. The dealer room was actually not too bad. I saw some things I was interested in. Really though, a dealer room needs a nice selection of tokusatsu and UC Gundam merch to impress me, and that doesn’t happen at the larger cons I’ve been at. There was also a lot of running and being rambunctious in the halls, but they do have the space to do that in. Oh how I envy wide and spacious halls.

Also, out of their control, the Executive Inn was undergoing renovation, so the connection between the hotel and con space, where a little mall and restaurant are located, was cut off. It was most assuredly an inconvenience for congoers and staff alike, but if they return to the same location next year, I’m sure it’ll be smooth sailing.

OMGcon is a nice, fun con to hit up on a free weekend. If you want somewhere in a major city and with a dealer room the size of a football field, there are plenty of other cons for that. If you want to hang out with people and make new friends, OMGcon is a great place for that. I look forward to its 2010 year.
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(crossposted from NikoScream)

Yesterday, ANN announced the liquidation of Central Park Media anime licenses. Central Park Media was one of the oldest anime licensing companies in the States until declaring chapter 7 bankruptcy earlier this year. That’s the kind of bankruptcy you don’t come back from.

As such, I decided to list my top 5 CPM titles I would like to see saved. These titles range from mecha to shonen action to romantic comedy to, well, some stuff not for polite society. Some titles have already been saved and don’t need mentioning, like Slayers by FUNimation and Grave of the Fireflies from ADV (oops, mentioned them). I picked these based on already existing fan bases and importance to the fandom at large. These titles are not in order of importance. They’re in reverse alphabetical order because the last one works out well that way. Anyway, here we go.

Now here’s YuYu Hakusho the Movie: Poltergeist Report, where Yusuke and friends fight off forces from the neatherworld to protect the human and spirit worlds. Earlier this year, FUNimation finished releasing the YuYu Hakusho TV series in four box sets. Now would be a good time for FUNi to grab the movie and add it to their collection of YuYu titles. Maybe even replace the movie dub with the (in my opinion) superior TV dub cast.

Here we have Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer. The pervert Ataru and hot alien Lum and friends go through a trippy adventure that could only be brought to us by the likes of Mamoru Oshii, who wrote and directed the flick after simply directing the series and first film. Being the only Urusei Yatsura movie not licensed by AnimEigo (even though they did a lot of the work), this might be something for them to jump on.

Photon: The Idiot Adventures is a hilarious little six-episode OVA originally created by Masaki Kajishima, the creator of Tenchi Muyo, and features staff from several Tenchi projects.  It’s a wacky space comedy about the impossibly-strong-yet-simple-minded-boy Photon Earth who accidentally marries a space pilot. This show is not related to the Tenchi franchise, but really, who isn’t related to Tenchi these days?

Do you like giant robots? Do you like cop dramas? Well then, Patlabor The Mobile Police is for you. In a not-so-futuristic Japan (in the year 1999), where mechs called labors are used for a variety of tasks from construction and law enforcement, the crew of the Second Special Vehicles Division use their patlabors to keep the peace. CMP had the licenses to the OVA and TV series, whereas Bandai Entertainment (via their merger with Bandai Visual USA) has the movies. Back on the theme of completing franchises, perhaps this is a good chance of bringing together the franchise.

And for last…

Yes, La Blue Girl. Bible Black may have dethroned this title as the most currently notable hentai State side, but La Blue Girl is still one of the necessary titles one must see before claiming to have any knowledge about hentai or tentacle porn. Then there’s the live-action movie, which takes campy porn to a whole new level. Media Blasters still has its Kitty Media hentai line. This may be a perfect fit.

And now 5 notable mentions I’d like to see saved mostly because I haven’t seen enough of them:

  • Armored Troopers VOTOMS
  • Cyber City Oedo 808
  • Project A-Ko
  • Record of Loddess War
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena

That’s not everything I’d like, but they all top the list. What titles do you want to see saved?

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(originally posted at NikoScream)

Thank you Tomopop for giving me a new, probably unobtainable goal to quest after. Now, I can finally fulfill two dreams of mine: to be a Kamen Rider and to have an action figure of myself.

Bandai created a new Jibun Damashii (My Spirit) SIC Kamen Rider figure, where you can have your face sculpted ontothe SIC version of Kamen Rider the Next’s Kamen Rider 1. Well, maybe not you, dear reader, unless you’re in Japan, as the orders are going to be done from a Japan-only site. Not like that’s ever stopped anyone before though. The 13,650 yen or almost $145 price tag, however, may stop some cold. Still, getting a figure with your face, combined with a full helmet, a partial helmet, spare hands and a stand with your name on it, that’s not bad.

If you’re still willing to give it a try, then be ready with your wallet and a front photo of your face on June 26 when the site begins taking orders.

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(crossposted from NikoScream)

After listening to the Gundam Experience panel Japanator was gracious enough to post from this year’s Anime Central I was unable to attend (thanks, college graduation), the first thing that came to mind was to share this little jewel to even more of the internet. Behold: Doozy Bots!

  

What is this, you ask? Well, as the ’80s became the ’90s, Sunrise wanted to bring Gundam to the States. However, for some reason, I guess Sunrise didn’t think little kids piloting robots of death in a war would appeal to us Yankees. Guess they didn’t see Robotech.

Instead, we got a pilot for a chibi-fied bastardization of Gundam that almost (almost) makes Superior Defender Gundam Force look acceptable.

The premise? Professor Doozy created this machine that puts human souls into robots. His teen science club obviously proves better than guinea pigs to test this out, so the professor puts them in to transfer their minds into a Gundam, a Zeta Gundam (or a Re-GZ, not sure), a Guncannon, a Guntank and a pink GM. Why transfering their minds made their bodies vanish, I have no idea. These teens now have to battle evil robots that escaped from the professor’s lab. Of course, these would be Zeonic mobile suits, which begs the question: why was Professor Doozy building Zeon?

Now you’re probably going, “This concept sounds like a surefire hit. Why did it never get made into a series?” Probably because at this point, God still loved us, or maybe God didn’t find putting the wheelchair kid into the Guntank as funny as I do. Really, if you could give people seemingly perfect robotic bodies, forcing the kid who can’t walk into the mobile suit that doesn’t have legs is a pretty dickish thing to do.

That’s only the most glaring oddity of this clip. We cannot forget the Guncannon that shoots UP gumballs that have to be subsequently hit by a hockey stick, the girl in the pink GM with a thick Southern accent and a lasso. Oh, and wheelchair boy, he gets relegated to cleanup duty. Then there’s the robotic chicken that lays Dom eggs, and I could go on and on.

Honestly though, I don’t think the world is any poorer or richer for the failure of Doozy Bots to get off the ground. It took almost a decade  later for a Gundam series to hit it relatively big when Gundam Wing premiered on Toonami. Perhaps it would have happened sooner when people learned of this thing called Gundam in Japan, or perhaps no one would have ever made the connection. Either way, Doozy Bots exists to show us a simplier time when political correctness didn’t matter as much and Gundam was about being a teenager and having fun, instead of all the war and gloom it is today (and yesterday, and 30 years ago).


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Terminator Salvation is out in theaters today. Following up on a poor third movie and from what I hear a decent enough series that was relegated to probably the least prime time of prime time slots out there, Salvation serves to show us what has been talked about and shown in brief glimpses: the battle between humanity and Skynet. How does that fair? well enought but not outstanding.

Let's start off with the basics. This is not your typical Terminator plot as seen in Terminator 1-3 or even The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Gone is the unstoppable robot from the future and the outclassed protector sent to stop it from killing its target. Instead, this is your standard war tale of small resistance versus evil and unrelenting tyranny. This is what I like most about Salvation. Terminator was a good movie. T2 was a more polished and tweaked ite. T3 was a failed iteration. They're all the same movie. Here, the good guy forces can actually put up a fight, albeit not much, against the Terminators. There are similarities, sure, such as making sure Skynet doesn't kill someone, and a warrior misplaced from his time coming to the rescue (opposite direction this time though), but it's different enough to not feel like a simple rehash.

With that said, it really is a standard war tale. The plot is fairly basic and kind of clichéd. Most of the plot is predictible, and you can pretty much guess correctly how each scene will play out well enough in advance. In the end, there is no real huge change in the battle between humanity and Skynet.

The most average movie goer with basic knowledge of the previous films could likely find as many holes in the continuity as in swiss cheese. That tends to happen when time travel is thrown into the mix. I tend to glaze them over. Until we actually discover time travel, we won't know how it actually affects time, so let's not worry about those too much. Salvation does throw us some nods to the previous movies though. We get some short lines you may have heard before and a familiar face or two.

If you're looking for deep characterization, this movie isn't for you. The film's two main characters are John Connor (Christian Bale) and Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington). For Connor, we finally get to see him in the role prophisized about for 20 years, except not quite. He's not the all-out leader of the resistance, but instead is a commanding officer with superiors to begrudgingly answer to. We do see the inspiration Connor is supposed to bring to humanity in his own little fireside chats around the radios. Bale's performance accomplishes the task of making Connor be a rugged yet brooding leader-type, and that's about it. It's basically a toned-down Batman without the gravely voice. Not particularly deep or groundbreaking, so if you expected more out of the long-promised John Connor, sorry.

Marcus Wright instead receives more of the character focus. He is the human-Terminator hybrid given the second chance he's not sure he deserves or even wants. Wright gives Connor a run for his money in the brooding catagory with the sins of his past, the loss of everything he knows and the whole not fully human thing. Worthington does this brooding well enough to fill the plot, with maybe one or two too many "NOOOOOOOO"s.

We also see Kyle Reese, John Connor's eventual father, as a young man in the resistance. He's played by Anton Yelchin, and if you recognize him, that's because he's Chekov in Star Trek. He also probably seems the most human, with some actual signs of fear at the beginning but still able to keep his cool. No Russian accent though. Maybe that would have fooled Skynet.

The score for the movie is fairly forgettable, aside from the standard Terminator theme and a couple of boom box scenes serving nothing more than to rile up Terminators to tell humans to keep the music down, with a little force of course. Seems like Danny Elfman took it easy with this paycheck. Personally though, I don't mind as I like to occasionally hear what is actually happening in high-action scenes, of which there are plenty, but to each his own.

Speaking of high-action scenes, they are here in force. After all, where would a Terminator movie be without a big car chase or trying to fight off a constantly-advancing Terminator? Added to the mix are gun fights, fist fights and even jet and helicopter fights. Some of the scenes are repetitive (two helicopter crash scenes?) or long, which mostly seem to fill 2-hour running time that summer blockbusters these days seem to set as a minimum.

To wrap this up, Terminator Salvation is a fair summer blockbuster. It's got action and explosions and franchise references to warrant a viewing or two and please some fans. However, it has a clichéd and predictible plot and lacks strong characterization. Plus a re-edit could help, and maybe a better scoring. It works as a popcorn flick and for washing out the bad taste T3 left in our mouths. However, it does nothing to dethrone Star Trek as this summer's reigning champion thus far.
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