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No GravatarAoT everyone

FUNimation has been releasing clips from the Attack on Titan English dub to get people excited about the release of the first half of the season in June and for Anime Boston, which is going on right now.

Here is the latest clip:

With each and every clip, I get more and more excited for when I can get my hands on Attack on Titan – Part 1 with the English dubbing. Whether I get the Collector’s Edition, Limited Edition, or Standard Edition is still up in the air.

Attack on Titan will be releasing Part 1 of the series through FUNimation on June 3, 2014.  The Collector’s Edition will run at $96.74, Limited Edition will run at $67.49, and the Standard Edition will run at $37.49.

What did you think of this latest clip? Let us know in the comments!

Source: FUNimation Twitter

By Charles On 28 Jun, 2013 At 06:34 PM | Categorized As Conventions, Editorials, Featured, Otaku Events | With 0 Comments

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Always bring a banana to a party.

Always bring a banana to a party.

Well, well, well- look who’s back. It’s been a while since I’ve made an appearance on here, and with good reason: since the beginning of May, I’ve been on a whirlwind of convention travels- all the way from Charlotte, NC for KiraKiraCon, to Sandusky, OH for Colossalcon, and most recently, Portland, ME for Portcon. In between I’ve dropped by VA for AMA, Boston for AB and a splendid little event in Pittsfield, MA called BAMcon (currently my favorite event of the year). And one of the constants I’ve had all 6 of those weekends is new congoers, from those who have always wanted to attend, to curious friends dragged along for the ride, to the confused parents wondering what their children have been jabbering on about incessantly since last summer.

For those of you who have never been to a con, there really is no time like the present to start attending. Explosive community growth, huge influxes of new fans and fandoms, cosplay galore- this is a great time to start hitting up your local con scene, or even traveling someplace new and exciting for a weekend unlike any other.

Wow, that sounds like a sales pitch.

For those of you who have never attended, or find the entire process intimidating, allow me then to provide you with some tips for selecting and navigating your first convention. You don’t need to heed my advice, because everyone’s experiences at the con are different- that’s what makes them so enticing- but at the same time, there are always common pitfalls that have the potential to derail a previously fantastic weekend.

Author’s note: these tips are not the standard sort of “drink plenty of water,” or “sleep and shower once a day” type- the basic precepts of health and hygiene are common sense, and we all are aware of them. And if we are not, the con staff will definitely make sure you observe them. Rather, these tips will (hopefully) allow you to have an enjoyable weekend, free of drama, hassles, and unplanned roadblocks.

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Dressing like this might get you dinner…or arrested.

Rule 1: Friends make the difference. This might sound obvious, but nobody wants to be attending their first con alone. From the overstimulation of the crowd’s emotions, to the often hectic environment itself, to the huge platter of events and programming, it is extremely easy to get lost in the mix. Flying solo at a con can be one of the scariest, and overwhelming experiences any fan can encounter- so much so that even veterans often dislike attempting it.

Thankfully, the solution is simple: go with your friends. Make new ones at the con. Build a ‘network’ of people you enjoy spending time with, and coordinate schedules so everyone has fun over the weekend. It’s easier than it sounds, because at the con, everyone is a prospective new friend, and many are actively seeking new people, new experiences and new comrades to share them with. Try it out next time, you will be pleasantly surprised with the results.

Rule 2: Budget, please. Everyone has a con story that proceeds something like this: “I brought $200 with me to cover my weekend, and blew it all within fifteen minutes of hitting the Dealer’s Room. Now I can’t afford to eat.” If this sounds like something that happened to a friend (or even yourself), you are not alone. All congoers fall into this trap at some point- I once spent $400 at a single con on commissions in the Artist Alley, and lived off the charity of my friends for the last day and a half. This often is accompanied by guilt, fear and the knowledge that you just spent a large amount of money in a short period of time, sometimes with little to really show for it.

Budgeting is your friend, throughout the weekend. It’s extremely easy to survive on the cheap at most big cons (especially ones in urban areas, with easy access to fast food), but when the temptation to blow your hard-earned cash on figures and DVDs arises, rely on those friends you went to the con with to keep you in check. Make sure you never take all your money with you anywhere, or give it to a friend who you know budgets well and have them reign you in. Your first con will fill you with impulses you might never have felt before, which invariably leads to impulse buying, and “shoppers remorse.” If you have your friend with you, keeping you from throwing cash left and right, you will make it through the weekend unscathed.

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The freaks might not come out at night, but the yokai certainly do.

Rule 3:Don’t try to experience everything. Simply put, you can’t. It’s not possible to do everything at the con over one weekend, especially if your first con is on the scale of Otakon (which is a popular choice for East Coast congoers), Anime Boston or *shudder* Anime Expo. Often events on that scale are massive, with dozens of panels and programs running concurrently all across the convention space. Trying to “keep up” will drive any neophyte congoer insane.

The best strategy is to find a few things you really want to see, and then allow the weekend to progress organically. What do I mean by organically? Well, even the best-laid plans can run awry. Sometimes friends have different plans, or there could be a completely spontaneous decision to do something other than what you planned to do. Looking at the programming schedule beforehand helps you whittle down what you have time for, but it can never forewarn you about random photoshoots, dinner plans, or bumping into that friend you know online who wants to catch up outside of the internet.

Progressing organically, then, is to just ‘go with the flow.’ Enjoy yourself, enjoy your friends, and decide what’s really important when the moment arises. You might wander into a random panel and find yourself interested in the subject. You might discover that a certain cosplay event isn’t what you expected it to be. Or you might just latch onto a cluster of new people and follow them. This is usually one of the best ways to approach congoing, especially now, so just enjoy yourself, and see where everything takes you. Becoming preoccupied with pre-planned events is a surefire way to ruin your weekend. The real appeal of the con is just being at the con.

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Navigating the halls sometimes requires skills with a lightsaber

Rule 4: Utilize discretion.  On par with common sense, just because you are at a con, doesn’t mean you should run around like a blithering idiot, get wasted, hit on anything with two legs, and consume things you would never touch in your daily life. Discretion, common sense, a bit of skepticism- these will allow you to circumvent any number of unexpected shocks and potentially toxic situations.

Now this might SOUND like a given, but bear in mind- the energy exchange from cons is powerful, and has the potential to itself become intoxicating. And people who start to fall to intoxication lower their inhibitions and act in ways that might be completely unexpected, even to THEM. I’ve witnessed young adult males doing questionale things for a girl’s attention, seen teenagers drink themselves silly because they can, and witnessed all sorts of…unsavory behavior, simply because one person wasn’t paying proper attention at the time.

Now do not take this to mean that cons are dangerous. They’re incredibly safe. But at the same time, even the safest places are not immune to stupidity and bad decisions. Be aware of yourself, and utilize discretion in your interactions. It will save you more than your fair share of drama.

 

When meeting your favorite voice actors, please remember they are people too.

When meeting your favorite voice actors, please remember they are people too.

Rule 5: Don’t feed the trolls. Just like on the internet, trolls exist, and prowl around cons. They can be the guys with the cameras taking candid photos without permission. They can be ‘that guy’ in the back of the panel room who never stops commenting on how ‘wrong’ the panelist is. It could be the kid in the mask throwing water at people. They are present, and sometimes highly visible at the con weekend, and can contribute a huge chunk of unwelcome drama. More than a few new congoers have been driven off by their antics, or reduced to tears in the hallways.

Remember, trolls are a part of the fandom experience. You will eventually encounter one, that’s a given. The real tip here is not just not let them bother you. They are actively trying to provoke a reaction, often for no reason other than their own boredom. They thrive on conflict, and making you feel terrible. If you give in, they win. If you shrug them off, they find someone else.

Look all the way back at rule 1 for the best way of dealing with them- your friends. The words of some anonymous congoer might sting, but remember that your friends are there for YOU, and will help you deal with any trolls you might encounter. Rely on them, and your weekend will be a success.

Note: Also, do not confuse trolls with the grey-skinned denizens of the popular webcomic Homestuck. Those are also trolls, but not of the same variety.

So, first time congoer, go forth and enjoy yourself.

For more information, check out some of my earlier blogs on the subject:

Con-Ventional Wisdom

Con Advice

By Charles On 16 Apr, 2012 At 04:43 PM | Categorized As Conventions, Featured, Reviews | With 1 Comment

No GravatarTen years is a long time, especially for a convention. Managing to create and implement a successful event over the course of a decade is often met with challenges, as the convention grows and tries to find its identity in a rapidly changing fandom world. Add to this the stresses of being located in the center of a large urban city, and the task might seem insurmountable. For every long-standing event like Otakon there will be an Inochicon, fizzling after a single year despite positive reviews and solid numbers.

Which makes this year’s Anime Boston event that much more special. Celebrating its tenth annual event at the Hynes Convention Center (it’s home since 2005), one can see just how far the convention has come since its humble beginnings in 2003. A veritable ocean of cosplay, panels, game shows and merchandise, the convention broke the 20,000 person mark this year (22,065 to be precise) and showed no signs of slowing down.

It should also be noted that this year’s event coincided with the 2012 PAX East gaming conference, which was being held on the opposite side of Boston. Concerns (and predictions) that Anime Boston would see a decline in attendance were ultimately unfounded, however, as attendees from both conventions managed to find time to swap events. The sight of Anime Boston and PAX badges on the same lanyards wasn’t commonplace, but not rare either.

Pros:

-Variety. One of the benefits of having such a large space as Anime Boston is the sheer amount of space available for programming and events. A casual look at Anime Boston’s schedule validates that assertion. Panels from 10 AM until 2 AM, every day, along every conceivable line. Want some mindless screaming and fan-gasming? They got you covered. Want a serious discussion of folklore or fan culture. Check. Want retrospectives on noted games and studios? Ditto. Want to recapture the glory of yesteryear? Mike Toole’s got you covered. Anime Boston has one of the best programming tracks of any con on the East Coast, so its easy to take advantage of it.

The same holds true for goods and services. Boasting the largest Artist Alley, and second largest Dealer’s Room, of any East Coast con, NOT finding what you want ends up being the challenge of the weekend. (Which I discovered firsthand, when I couldn’t find a ninja outfit.) This is one of the few cons that makes money budgeting a necessity- you can, and likely will, blow everything on day one if you have poor impulse control.

-Location. Middle of Back Bay Boston, attached to the Prudential Center and a block away from Newbury Street. This is the business and commercial hub of the entire city. Reasonable food, fancy stores and aesthetic buildings. For the people-watcher, cosplayer or serial tourist, this is heaven.

-Fandom cohesion. This is a point of contention for a lot of attendees- Anime Boston, like all larger cons, is also a hub for multifandom pursuits. While the con takes a conservative line towards Programming, that doesn’t stop the people from cosplaying as comic book, BBC or internet characters, and scheduling photoshoots to prove they were there. It’s very easy to discover the other side of fandom at this con, and make plenty of friends while doing it.

Cons

-Costs. Back Bay Boston, for all its pleasures, is also expensive. Rooms at the con hotel started at $200/night, making it one of the costliest conventions currently running. In fact, finding a room in Boston for less than $100 is all but impossible. As a result, rooms crammed with 14 people became commonplace (happened to a friend of mine, in fact). Not the fault of the con, in this case, but it should be noted for all first-time attendees that BOSTON BE EXPENSIVE, YO.

-Crowds. Almost Otakon-level crowds now. In earlier years, the full capacity of the Hynes was never as apparent as it was this year. Taking upwards of 5-7 minutes just to cross the entrance hallway was frequent, especially on Saturday. Throngs of people stopping short for cosplay pictures also slowed things down. Those in the know about the Hynes could avoid the worst of the glut, but it was still a problem at the height of the weekend. But growing pains like this are expected.

-Fandom breakdown. While Anime Boston has one of the most welcome atmospheres for multifandom love, this year it suffered from some breakdowns. Photoshoots scheduled right in front of panel rooms (thereby blocking access) and in the middle of hallways, rude cosplayers acting entitled, flaming and trolling were actually visible this time around. While this has always been a part of the modern anime convention, this year the fact that it could be seen and experienced by the general attendees was a bit disheartening.

Overall:

Anime Boston suffered some growing pains this year. Which is to be expected when your con surpasses the 20,000 mark. Crowding is an inevitable issue, which leads to confrontations in the hallways, and can spoil the mood. But it also shows how far the con has come- in 10 years, it went from 4000-22000, and has become one of the best known, and best loved, fan conventions on the East Coast. And it will likely continue to grow. Anime Boston is one of those rare large events that is extremely accessible to newcomers (I should know, it got me back into congoing in 2007). Next year it will take place on Memorial Day Weekend. That should be VERY interesting.

By Charles On 21 Dec, 2010 At 03:10 PM | Categorized As Comics/Manga, Editorials, Nintendo DS, Xbox 360/Xbox One | With 0 Comments

No GravatarWow, is the year over already? Doesn’t feel all that long ago that I was shoveling snow and preparing for Katsucon, and now it’s already Christmas and I can close the curtains on 2010. A lot happened this year, a lot was released, and there was no way for me to experience it all. But there were always the gems that stuck out, and now, in no particular order, I present my 10 memories of 2010.

Inception: The word “mind****” doesn’t begin to describe this one. Christopher Nolan’s journey into the subconscious explored the nature of ideas, control, infiltration, and a lot of other cerebral themes, acted out by a top-notch corps of actors completely at home with their roles. Stunning, provocative, and thoroughly enjoyable- easily the best film I saw this year…and probably a few years previous as well.

The Karate Kid: Save your criticisms and comparisons- Karate Kid 2010 lives up to the theme, flavor and story of the original, just bigger, flashier and more escapist. Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan prove to be every bit as much the surrogate family as Ralph Macchio and the late Pat Morita. This isn’t a remake, its a re-envisioning, and a worthy homage to a coming of age classic. Set your doubts aside and give this one a watch, you will not be disappointed.

Toy Story 3 and Tangled: I can not, nor will I, choose between these two movies. Both are Disney fare (one Pixar, one not, both produced by Pixar head and Ghibli fanboy John Lasseter), both have compelling characters, excellent dialogue, entertaining story, beautiful animation and plenty of re-watching potential. Both have appeal far beyond their “target” audience, and redefine what a “childrens” movie can do. And both show just how much one can accomplish with digital graphics and good writing. If only all Disney movies were this good- Dreamworks take note, the bar has been raised.

Cataclysm: World of Warcraft’s third expansion shows how this is not just a game, it’s a way of life. Ratcheted up difficulty, new races, new class combinations, and a world completely altered by the eruption of the dragon Deathwing, Cataclysm takes the old world and throws it violently into the future, dragging its players along with it. New travelers will find the game tough but fair, old hats were remember the days of “Vanilla” and explorers will see their beloved planet forever changed. But be warned, this is no cakewalk- you need to fight if you want to survive.

Anime Boston: Joining the ranks of older, “more established” conventions, Anime Boston proved in 2010 that there’s more to con life than just meme shouting and questionable cosplay. A strong variety of panels, diverse activities, a devoted pool of guests and (some 17000+) attendees, and the largest Artist Alley of any con on the East Coast, set against one of the nicest cities to visit in the country, Anime Boston is the perfect entryway for newcomers, and a shining light in the often scary landscape of fan conventions. Not bad at all for a con that isn’t even a decade old yet.

Angry Birds: Whoever thought the idea of launching birds at pigs would be so addictive, or challenging. As many other portable gaming devices showcase advanced graphics and ports of older, “classic” games, Rovio’s 2D lesson in physics and warfare silently became the most played, and most addictive, handheld game this year. Problem solving, random explosions, aerial bombardment and a whole lot of trial and error led to this sleeper hit being the top rated and downloaded app on the Apple Network. Need more evidence? When this game hit the Android Network in mid-October, it crashed the download servers and many uses spent the better part of a day trying to grab it (I was one of them). Who would have thought something so simple would be so powerful in the end.

Durarara: A pleasant slice of life anime centered around the experiences of three high school freshmen (two guys, one girl) living alone in the big city of Tokyo. Throw in serial “Slashers,” romance, escalating gang tensions, a Celtic shinigami searching for her missing head, a pair of insufferable otaku, a seemingly bored villain who does things for kicks and a guy who throws vending machines at people when he’s angry, and you have what might be the best anime released in Japan in years. A series of related events told through multiple sets of eyes, DRRR manages to be a simple pleasure set in complicated times.

Shikabane-Hime: Death, regrets, loyalty, devotion, Buddhism, monsters and buxom girls- Corpse Princess blends all of this into one slow building but extremely satisfying experience that explores the idea of death and how certain people either cope with it, or run from it. Very few shows look at the often complicated Buddhist view of death, defilement and corruption with as much attention or exposition as this one, and very few are as graphic. It’s a rare find to stumble across a complete package, and this one is complete in every sense of the word.

Doctor Who: After 2 years absence, the BBC hit series returned with a vengeance (and a new Doctor) on Easter weekend, and never looked back. Bigger, fancier, better was the mantra behind this stylish vision of a 900 year old time-traveling “Doctor” and his female companion, as they battled vampires, weeping angels, and aliens, ran alongside roman legions and Vincent Van Gogh, and saved the universe (again) from calamity and destruction. Any doubts about this season were dispelled, as newcomer Matt Smith capably played the title character, and was upstaged at times by both costar Karen Gillam as spunky companion Amelia Pond and perennial fan favorite Alex Kingston as the mysterious River Song. Not a flawless entry into the 47 year old Doctor Who story, but damn close.

Honorable Mentions: It would be a shame to end this list without at least pointing out these other gems.

Kuroshitsuji: A Victorian tale about a boy and his (demon) butler. The anime is fun, if a little fan serviced, but the manga is a great read.

Unstoppable: A disaster movie that wasn’t itself a disaster, mostly due to excellent camera work and the skills of its leads, Denzel Washington and Chris Pine.

Fable 3: Not quite what Peter Molyneaux promised, but the closest his vision has ever come to perfection.

Resonance of Fate: A solid JRPG for the 360, right when we needed one. Being a bit steampunk didn’t hurt either.

Anime USA: Like Anime Boston, just smaller and more centrally located.

Shutter Island: Less mind-blowing than Inception, but still a fantastic psychological thriller, set in an insane asylum on an island far from land.

Kick Ass: Bloody, violent and profane don’t even begin to describe this excellent film adaptation of the Millar/Romita graphic novel about a kid who wants to be a superhero.

Dragon Quest IX: The latest installment in the long running JRPG series arrived on the DS over the summer. All the experience of an MMORPG without lag and monthly fees.

AMV Hell 5: Long awaited, but thankfully not stale. The latest installment in the AMV spoofing series delivered less laughs than previous outings, but was still entertaining.

Supernatural: The 5th season of the CW monster-hunting drama ended with the apocalypse, but not before the world went to hell first. Pure cheese, but tasty.