Avatar.

Oct. 17th, 2011 08:30 pm
elwen: (lol)
Courtesy of xkcd:

Caffeine.

Sep. 23rd, 2011 09:30 pm
elwen: (...)
OMG!! I drank a cup of black tea yesterday morning, and it kept me up until 2am! D:

(And now that I take the train to work, I have to get up up at like 7am if not earlier.)

I haven't been touching caffeine very much since we finished the really grueling part of our case in April. A can of coke once or twice, and an inch of coffee in my mug on some days, like when we were doing depositions. But that's about it.

My schedule is much more regular now and I'd been getting more sleep, so even though I'd feel sleepy at work and sometimes zonk out, I didn't think caffeine should be the answer. I just need to learn how to stay awake all day again, on my own. But I've been bad and going to bed later and later this week, and have been feeling pressured to get stuff done, so yesterday I figured some caffeine would ensure I stayed attentive and productive all day. I think that part of it worked okay, but then I was totally out of it today, unsurprisingly. And I didn't dare have tea again.

I knew if I drink milk tea after noon, I won't be able to sleep before 4am. But this? Is black tea supposed to be that strong???

No. 6.

Sep. 22nd, 2011 11:31 pm
elwen: (fandom: . . . what?!)
I finally finished the No. 6 anime. I'm probably the only fangirl who is both dedicated enough to follow [livejournal.com profile] no6city and law-abiding lazy enough to not watch subs and not subscribe to Crunchyroll and thus watch it on a one-week time lag.

And I even managed not to get spoiled this past week. Aren't you proud of me?

I don't really have anything to add to the reactions at the discussion post over there. But I would like to point out something I said a month and a half ago:

I'm disappointed that it's only slated to run 11 episodes. Kind of indicative of how they're treating it: one of those dark, BL-ish stories where they'll play fast and loose with the plot and then end it on a dissatisfying note.

Did I call it or what?

I still want to read the novels, but it sounds like they might not be much better. It's okay, I will learn to love No. 6 as both a series that is awesome and has moments that turn me into jelly, and a series whose ridiculousness you just have to mock -- with the help of a snarky fan community. Sound familiar?

I am a little worried about my special order for the novels at the moment. So I ended up not going to Kinokuniya in SF, but I went to the SJ store and was going to pick up volume 8 that I found there, but I decided I didn't really like the format much, and they were so much more expensive, so I decided to go for the bunko. I have no idea how far along those are, but I figure by the time I finish volume 6, there will probably be more waiting for me. I placed a special order for all 6 right before Labor Day, so I should be getting the postcard any day now. But I'm worried that somehow they screwed up my address, and the books are sitting there behind the counter, and they'll send them back to Japan before I find out about it. :( I might call them tomorrow to check, except I hate calling them because their English is generally fine but they have trouble when you spell things out. Maybe they'll be able to find it if I just give them the order numbers.

On a related note, I discovered a best practice for special ordering that I might as well share here: giving them a list of ISBNs is the best way to tell them what you want. No confusion, no lengthy back and forth about titles and authors. They just type the numbers in and confirm.

Versus what I used to do: "Hi, I'd like to special order a volume of a manga called 'Elixir.' Um, but the kanji is 'kenja no ishi.' It's by Akino Matsuri. Her given name is read 'matsuri' but she actually uses the kanji for 'Mari.'"

I'm babbling, and it's past my bedtime, so I'll go away now. I've noticed I tend to become glib after finishing a series and overdosing on fandom. Or maybe just overdosing on fandom.

Hella.

Sep. 12th, 2011 09:01 pm
elwen: (Default)
Kinokuniya is having a gift card design competition called HELLA THANKS!!

So NorCal. :D

During doc review a couple weeks ago, we had a kind of roundtable about the word "hella". Apparently the one guy from SoCal absolutely hates it.

I don't know when I picked it up, but I've started to use "hella" in the sense of "a lot of", which I find a lot more fun than its "very" sense. I can't remember what I said, but that's how I triggered the discussion at doc review. (That's how it's used in "hella thanks", too, I suppose.)
elwen: (Default)
Wow, I guess it's been a long time since I posted about something other than anime or manga.

So for Labor Day I went to South Lake Tahoe with my family. As James puts it, we always want to go places at the same time as other people want to go. (I don't think I ever posted about Christmas at Disneyland. Such. a bad. idea.) Traffic was not as bad as I had feared, by which I mean it only turned into a parking lot once, for maybe 15 minutes, but there were a lot of crawling sections.

Most of Saturday was spent driving. We walked down to the lake shore, played on some swings, and then made a first pass at the casinos before a late dinner. I think this is the first time any of us three "younger generation" people had been to a casino since we were old enough to gamble, so a lot of it was just being wide-eyed and giddy. We tried some random cheap slots and lost maybe a couple dollars. We went back after dinner and experienced utter gambling fail: it was so crowded we couldn't find a free machine, and whenever we found one we kept finding out that our vouchers wouldn't work. Stupid paperless systems. So in the end we couldn't even manage to lose any money, much less win.

On Sunday, we drove out to look at more scenic parts of the lake, including Emerald Bay. We took some cliche pictures at the vista point and tried to hike to one of the falls that feeds Cascade Lake, but my parents gave up early, and James and I turned back a bit after because we didn't want to keep them waiting. I was amused that the other fork in the trail goes to Desolation, the most-used wilderness area in the U.S. (You need a permit to go.)

After that, we went on to the Vikingsholm trailhead, whose parking lot was totally packed. We got into a fight with a car full of Indian people who backed into the parking row we were squatting and tried to snipe our spot. We were in a stalemate with us standing in the parking space and their car right in front of us, but fortunately a couple minutes later another car left. (And this Chinese lady in the passenger seat of that car yelled at us for standing behind their van even though they had tons of space to back up.)

In the evening we had a dinner cruise out on the lake. It was very pretty, but not that photogenic. The clouds were gorgeous. I'm not sure if I've ever seen clouds tinted pink from below like that. Maybe you need the altitude?

One of the main reasons we took the cruise was that there were Labor Day fireworks (since when?) and the boat gave us front row seats. And it really was the best fireworks show I have ever seen. It was pretty long, and it was synched to music in a very artistic way, and there were a lot of different effects. My two favorite parts were: (1) to "Rocketeer" by Far East Movement, when they sing that drawn out "fly", they had these very gently cascading fireworks that perfectly capture that soaring feeling; and (2) to "Blow" by Ke$ha, whenever she sang "this place about to blow-oh-oh..." they had these super-cool fireworks that had the usual initial burst, and then all the sparks would suddenly expand out again, timed to the word "blow".

On Monday we went back to the casinos and failed a bit less at gambling. We found a giant slot machine that let you play 5 lines for a nickel, and we stayed there being all giddy and excitable. Two of us would sit in front of machine and one of us would pull the big lever. We had a really good round of free spins and were up for a while, but in the end we lost it all again and stopped when we ran out of money. Our excitement during the free spins caused people to come over to see what was going on -- they probably went off rolling their eyes when they found out it was a bunch of kids oohing and ahhing at winning $5. But man, those little add on things make it so exciting.

In the end, I'm not really a casino person, and I knew this all along. For starters, I'm risk averse. And I'm an intravert, which pretty much rules out the table games -- interacting with people is not my idea of entertainment. I could probably get stuck on slots, but I'm too risk averse to play the expensive ones, and after a while the small size of any possible gains drives me away from the cheapy ones.

So that was my Labor Day. All in all, a good trip despite the crowds. Never would have foreseen that fireworks would be the highlight, though.
elwen: (reading)
Apparently there was a Best and Worst Manga Panel at Comic-Con. Kind of feels like one of those "bold all the banned books you've read" memes. Of course, I haven't read most of these, but there were some notable titles in there.

I'm even almost tempted to read Ao no Exorcist, except that I don't really believe in shounen manga. I will watch shounen anime, but I think the last shounen manga I read was Hikaru no Go, in like 2003. Ao no Exorcist was the only thing I'd heard of from the first page, so my only other thought was, "There's a 'grown-up manga' category? What does that correspond to? Seinen and josei?"

Page 2 had stuff I've heard of, mainly because they have anime adaptations, like Chi's Sweet Home, Kekkaishi, Twin Spica, One Piece, Fullmetal Alchemist. Still nothing I would actually read as a manga. Maybe I'll try the Kekkaishi anime, someday when I have time.

Page 3... Hm, Deadman Wonderland has a manga. I considered watching the anime, but got lost at the trailer.

And, the main reason I am even posting about this thing, the comments on Seikon no Qwaser, on the "worst manga" list:

David Brothers: "Oh, this is the Catholic lactation thing, right?"

Carlo Santos: "Yes, exactly."

I totally cracked up because I can see exactly why it can be summed up that way. I thought the series had good promotional art and a reasonably interesting description. Then I watched a trailer, and had to wonder when I had signed up for hentai. Seriously. It was like, "What is happening to those women? o_O" So yeah. I guess the series doesn't really get better from there.

(The anime has a sequel, though, so someone must like it...)

Page 4... CLAMP is coming out with another new series? C'mon girls. Stop starting new series and resuming series I don't care about (Gohou Drug), and finish X, dammit.

And Gokusen is on the "most wanted" list. Personally, I don't think it would do that well. Sure, there are the drama fans, but I don't think dorama really have that wide an audience, and what audience it has has probably bought the Japanese manga or overdosed themselves on scanlations already. And, as much as I love it, I don't think the anime is really something that would get people into the manga. In the end, it just seemed that the general reaction I've seen to Gokusen is "it's like GTO... but not as good." It's because it's really not for the same market as GTO, but the market for josei series like Gokusen is still not that big in the U.S., as far as I know.

But who am I to say, since I am not in the market for English-licensed manga at all.

Even if, now that the yen is so strong, Japanese tankoubon are often more expensive than the English version. ;_;

Page 5 is "most underrated." I would actually consider these, if I was looking for more manga to read -- which I am not, and probably won't be for another like 10 years. Even though the first thing I thought when I read the Kaze Hikaru comments was, "Romantic shinsengumi exploits? Is it like Hakuouki? Or just BL?" I should mention I've never really watched or read a bakumatsu series and have always been kind of skeptical of them and all the Shinsengumi obsession. I've always been meaning to find a good one and try it, though, since I've seen plenty of Three Kingdoms and Sengoku retellings by now.

Maoh sounded kind of interesting, too, though I am skeptical that a shounen series can have a lot of action and violence while being "thought-provoking."

Anyways, on the "things I am actually reading" front, I've been reading Matantei Loki recently. I just caught up to where I think I dropped off last time, right around the start of volume 5. Too bad I've got three more volumes and all of Matantei Loki Ragnarok between me and the new series that just started last week, Matantei Loki Ragnarok ~Shin Sekai no Kamigami~. Not that I didn't already read the first chapter of that. I gotta say, not a big fan of Freya's redesign. And now that someone pointed out that Hoenir looks like Harry Potter, I will never get it out of my head.
elwen: (squee!)
I've become kind of infatuated with No. 6 since I mentioned it earlier. This week's episode wasn't even that great (well, Eve was pretty amazing) but just seeing Nezumi and Sion together makes me happy. I found out that the novels are over at 9 -- just finished in June -- so the animators have the whole of the story to work with. Don't know if they're going to try to capture the whole thing in 11 episodes, or just pick a good stopping point within the canon. Or maybe neither.

Anyhow, I'm going to be in SF next week anyway, so I think I'm going to stop by Kinokuniya and start collecting the novels. Kino's inventory is kind of crazy for No. 6. Volume 1 is available only in their New York store. Volume 2 is unavailable except from Japan. Volume 3 is available only in the SF store. Volume 4 is available only in the San Jose store. So... it's going to be a while before I can really sit down and read it, but that's okay. I won't have solid time for reading Japanese novels until next month anyways.

Plus I should really finish Ginban Kaleidoscope first...

On the Prince of Tennis front, I guess I spoke too soon about Tezuka not killing dinosaurs. The surfing was a little less overdramatic, but only a little. Of course, I can't complain because Tezuka was super-cool. <3 I think I am a fan now. But with 7 OVA episodes and at most one match left, what am I going to get out of it? (They couldn't possibly make him sit out the finals, right? Right? But who is he going to play? Sanada? Boooring. I assume they will save Yukimura for Ryoma, plus Ryoma already beat Sanada. But I'm sure they'll find some way to make it suspenseful and exciting anyway.)

But with all the Tezuka awesomeness lately, it makes me that much more annoyed with the TV series ending. Bah.

Anime post!

Aug. 7th, 2011 11:43 pm
elwen: (Default)
I haven't done an anime post in almost two years, apparently, so let's see how far I get...

First off, I'm basically following two series right now: Blue Exorcist and No. 6. Blue Exorcist (Ao no Exorcist) is what I consider good shounen -- a nice blend of humor and depth, strong characters, and... actually, I don't know what makes me like shounen series, but at least those are things that make me like Blue Exorcist. I go back and forth between liking Rin and finding him really annoying. He's one of those main characters that is totally obnoxious, bullheaded, and stupid, but will every now and then show these qualities like loyalty, courage, and cooking ability that enable him to accomplish things that people better than him could not. Not a particularly rare strain of shounen lead, and my like of them tends to depend on how funny their dumb moments are and how tear-jerking their good moments are. Rin's score is still mixed. I do like him and Shiemi a lot, though.

Blue Exorcist reminds me vaguely of Bleach back when it was still good I still followed it. I don't know that it's actually similar in plot, characters, mythology, or anything like that, but I feel like the kind of enjoyment I get is similar. Definitely recommended for people who like action shounen stuff. ([livejournal.com profile] ling84 I'm looking at you, since I already made [livejournal.com profile] superpan try it.)

No. 6 is quite a different story. I just picked it up today, because I was intrigued by the preview screenshot they had on Crunchyroll. The plot summary is totally blah: "Boy lives in utopia, meets fugitive from the underworld, has life changed forever." But I noticed AniDB has it prominently marked as josei, so I thought hey why not. (I only noticed after finishing episode 4 that it is also marked "yaoi subtext" -- though I noticed the reason while watching, of course.) In terms of plot and setting, the summary is more or less on point. Reminds me a lot of Shangri-La, although I'm sure there are plenty of other series about a post-apocalyptic utopia with accompanying ousted masses trying to scrape together a living in the under/outside world. What made me run through all of the available episodes was not so much the cliffhangers and the growing conspiracy but the character interactions. Nezumi is just so much love. And Sion is not quite stupid, clueless, and idealistic enough to annoy me, as sometimes the pure-hearted boy who gets dropped out of the utopia into the ugly real world can. I can see it going in a BL direction, but really, I just thought it was super-cute how they met when they were younger; my inner fujoshi didn't step in until AniDB (and to a small degree the end of episode 4) suggested it.

Anyway, I think it's a good series all around. Strong storytelling, great characters, good pacing. There's no in-your-face BL, really. (Though they seemed to put a lot of loving detail into establishing that Nezumi is a good kisser...) I'm disappointed that it's only slated to run 11 episodes. Kind of indicative of how they're treating it: one of those dark, BL-ish stories where they'll play fast and loose with the plot and then end it on a dissatisfying note. Kind of like Togainu no Chi. The gensaku is a novel series already out to 9 volumes, which may end up on my ever-growing list of Japanese novels to read.

Since I mentioned Togainu no Chi, let's talk about that. TnC is based on a yaoi PC game that became a much tamer manga and finally an anime series. I found out about it sometime before Yaoi-Con, so I was able to recognize the many cosplayers. I basically ignored the manga, but I did try the game and collect some of the CGs. I found a few totally hilarious blog posts about the series (spoiler alert), which piqued my interest at the same time as making me unable to take the series seriously anymore. I really can't say it better than they did. Throw a bunch of guys into an urban wasteland where they're supposed to fight each other to win some game, and then add BL subtexts. Yeah. The anime handled it really weird. They played up this one scene, that didn't really go anywhere in the game -- or maybe it did in the narration, which was tl;dr for the most part. Then they totally ripped out the beginning of the yandere!Keisuke plot. It's been a while since I watched the series, so I don't remember much, but I do remember watching that scene and thinking, "Oh, Keisuke's just going to kick him around on the floor a bunch now and run away, and it's going to be totally lame." And it was. I'm not saying they had to make it yaoi, but at least do something with the scene if you're going to keep it.

The anime plot diverged a bit from the game towards the end, but overall I thought it was decent way to merge all the different storylines. That said, I don't think there was much redeeming about the storylines in the first place. There are a few highlights in both the game and the anime, and Shiki is irresistible, but overall, not a series I'd recommend to anyone. I'm mainly just glad I know it because it seems to have a strong following in some sectors.

What else now... oh, I've picked Prince of Tennis back up lately. I finished off the TV series, whose ending I thought was crap. But the few episodes right before the ending... wow. Didn't realize that, after 170 episodes, you could get me to sign up for Tezuka x Fuji that fast. Finishing the TV series brought me full circle back to the first episode of PoT I ever watched, at some Fanime in misty history: the beginning of the Nationals, with that huge guy whose serves Ryoma couldn't return. I'm enjoying the OVA episodes, but the series is just so damn long that I can't remember who most of the players are anymore. But the thought of rewatching such a long series is incredibly daunting. I'm glad there's so much Tezuka recently, though. I'm not really a Tezuka fan, but he is pretty badass. And it's not the totally ridiculous "meteor shower killing the dinosaurs" kind of stuff they had in the movie, either.

In terms of series that I finished, I at least posted about a couple along the way:
Durarara!!
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Sengoku Basara (near the end)
Kaleido Star

Other series I finished, including some I've mentioned before:

Princess Tutu - A nice little series. Never quite gives you what you expect, in a good way. Ahiru + Fakir = OTP.

Densetsu no Yuusha no Densetsu - I thought I must have mentioned this series at some point, but I can't find it. DenYuuDen is an awesome swords and sorcery series, but desperately in need of a sequel. Kind of reminiscent of Slayers in the way it sometimes mocks its own genre. The series left off with a lot of unanswered questions and almost at the start of the plot in some ways, because the gensaku novel series branched into a sequel series at that point. That said, I am kind of afraid the novel plot started going out of control at that point -- think Code Geass -- but I still want the anime to continue, because I am never going to make it to the novels at my current rate. I will repeat my formula for series I really, really like: great story, awesome characters. Oh, and some politics.

Angel Beats - A really good Key series. And not all romance and harem-y like most Key series, though that doesn't keep me from liking other Key series. I've seen some complaints that it was too short, and that's true, but it's not a fatal flaw. There's still enough character development to be really good. It's about these kids who are in this weird high school setting afterlife and kind of working through their unfair lives/deaths while fighting with the "authorities" to avoid becoming sheep who will just disappear. I'm probably describing it poorly, but in the series, it works. Highly recommended.

Kaichou wa Maid-sama - I've mentioned this one before. It's a nice, warm and fuzzy shoujo romanticomedy. I watched the special recently and was thinking I should rewatch the whole thing. Something about the characters or the romance feels really artificial to me, and it never really went away throughout the series, but I think I just started to ignore it because they are such a cute couple, and Usui is so awesome. Very reminiscent of Shinkumi, except the artificiality in Shinkumi (blasphemy!) is a little more subtle.

Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru - I think Uraboku is one of those series that's all about character interactions. The whole fighting evil spirits backdrop is great, but really, who cares. None of the characters really did anything for me until Hotsuma and Shuusei, who I talked about once. And then, straight after that, the series hit me with... um... the other pair, with the shogi (?) playing guy whose name I have completely forgotten. And thus I was lost, even though I thought it was mostly a second-rate series up until then. I even gave in and started collecting the manga a few months ago. The anime makes a good package, I think, while leaving the door open for a sequel.

(On a random note, I kind of feel like the series started off very similar to Blue Exorcist, with the boy-clueless-about-his-roots raised as an orphan and suddenly being attacked by evil spirits and needs to run away from his sanctuary church/orphanage. Except then they went in completely different directions.)

Darker Than Black: Ryuusei no Gemini - I posted about a couple specific episodes towards the end, and I think that kind of captures my reactions through to the end of the series. Namely, "I have no idea what is going on, and this is super-rushed and not satisfying." I kind of think the whole having a sequel thing was a mistake. I watched the four OVAs recently, which bridge the gap between the first and second series, and that kind of confirms it. At first it was awesomeness like the first series. And then gradually it became more and more like the second series, that is to say, confusing and cryptic and not as awesome. I need to rewatch the first series sometime to detox, and revel some more in Hei love.

(And Kiuchi-san love! I just watched a great Oshitari episode in PoT, too. Osaka-ben, yum.)

Seiken no Blacksmith - Another good swords and sorcery series that needs a sequel. Not quite as awesome as DenYuuDen, but I enjoyed it. Mostly it was the fanservice that annoyed me. Seriously. The main character wears a breastplate with these big metal domes and nothing underneath it, and I swear the whole thing just cracked and fell off more than once during the series. I don't really remember the plot anymore, but it wasn't bad. The blacksmith dude was pretty cool, and there was a lot of interesting plot stuff that they hinted at but never explored, hence the need for a sequel.

Maria-sama ga Miteru - I rewatched the whole thing and finally watched the 4th season. I just love this show so much. I still don't understand how you can have such an addictive, long-running series with practically no antagonists or adversity. It really is just about relationships and school life, but it's not boring. Just go watch it already.

And... I think that actually covers most if not all of the series I finished since the last post! I have no good way to track stuff I started but then dropped, or that stalled, so those are kind of in limbo until I pick them back up and finish them. I can rattle off a few like that: Natsume Yuujinchou, Spice and Wolf, Aria. Oh, and I tried watching Toriko because the main character is voiced by Okiayu-sama, and I actually really like him in the role. But the series itself is so stupid I don't know if I can get through more of it. Something about a guy who goes around the world collecting rare ingredients, which doesn't sound that bad, but imagine that with a very juvenile shounen spin. I keep trying to tell myself that it's like Hunter x Hunter, but I dunno. I'll try again sometime, probably. I only made it through the One Piece crossover episodes so far, so you could say I haven't really seen what the series is truly like.

And on that note... until next anime post!
elwen: (Default)
I had a dream a few nights ago that some friends and I were sitting in a room with a projector screen, watching a live feed of skits from AX. I guess that's a sign that I should get to posting about those thoughts for next year's Fanime that I mentioned last time.

In short, I have BIG PLANS.

First of all, I decided that I want to enter the karaoke contest. In 2009, I watched part of the prelims, and did open mic, and so I want to take it a step further. Not that I think I'd win or anything, but from what I remember, I think I have at least some chance of making it to the finals. And while open mic was fun, it didn't feel quite meaningful enough.

As things get closer, you'll probably get more posts about different songs and with sound clips and desperate pleas for feedback. As a small preview:

I'm pretty sure right now that my prelim song will be "Forever..." by Savage Genius, the OP for Erementar Gerad. It's got a strong beat but not too much melodic "help" from the accompaniment, except for the little Engrish parts. My only challenge right now is that I want to do both verses, and I'll have to figure out a way to cut things down to meet the length limit -- it's almost 20 seconds too long, which is a lot.

I'm less sure what I'd sing for the finals, if I made it that far. Top candidates right now are "My Soul, Your Beats!" by Lia, the OP for Angel Beats, and "Will" by lisa, the OP for Melody of Oblivion. I like "My Soul, Your Beats!" because it has impact and, aside from the intro, basically no long instrumental parts. But I don't have the timing quite down, and it's very hard to keep synced during the long chorus at the end. I'm a bit more solid on "Will", and I like it's varied structure, but I don't know what I'd do during that long violin solo. I also know my voice has a tendency to wobble on sustained notes when I'm in public -- though I haven't tested it all that much since I did "Kaze no Uta" (Nuriko's first image song from Fushigi Yuugi) in high school.

There are lots of other songs I know quite well, of course, but they all have certain disadvantages. I like "Hitomi no Naka no Meikyuu" (Kayou Aiko; Yami to Boushi to Hon no Tabibito) and "Hitomi no Kakera" (FictionJunction YUUKA; Madlax) but I'm pretty sure my voice is really breathy when I sing those. There's also a considerable number of songs that I am currently not considering because they have no lead-in, including "Musouka" (Suara; Utawarerumono), "energy" (Inoue Marina; Ginban Kaleidoscope), and "Cocktail" (Hysteric Blue; Spiral). I watched a girl try a song like that in 2009; she had to ask the tech guy to tell her when he started the song, and it still didn't work. If one of those songs really seizes my fancy, though, I'll experiment with adding a tone at the beginning of the track to cue me in. Last, there are a couple of songs I like and know well but which I just think are too "easy". Top among those is "Kouya Ruten" by FictionJunction YUUKA, OP to an anime with a really long title that I've never watched.

Anyway, that's about enough of that for now, right?

The other part of my BIG PLANS is that I need to come up with another cosplay. I've decided that cosplay adds a lot to the con experience, but as I alluded to before, I can't just keep being Xellos forever.

So. Who to cosplay?

The idea of doing someone from Avatar has been kicking around for a while, but I'm kind of lukewarm. I love Avatar in every way, but I don't love any of the characters I could cosplay. While I was rewatching the series, I briefly considered Azula in her Earth Kingdom outfit. It's hopefully still recognizable, while sparing me from having to compete with all the awesome armor-makers out there. But the most positive sentiment I have for Azula is an occasional "meh".

While flipping through the artbook at Kinokuniya, another idea came to me: I could be the Painted Lady. I liked it because it hearkens back to my first cosplay with [livejournal.com profile] nendil, when we were also alternate "versions" of the same person (Mistress Nine and Sailor Saturn). But... I don't know.

In the end, any cosplay -- no matter how simple-seeming -- is a huge effort for me. It's not worth it unless the idea grabs me completely. I really have to enjoy every moment that I'm in costume. Xellos was like that. But Avatar just wouldn't be, I feel.

The idea that did grab me . . . may well be the death of me. But since it popped into my head, it hasn't shaken loose.

The idea is: Sima Shi, from Dynasty Warriors 7.

Since Dynasty Warriors always has super-elaborate costumes, and weapons, and armor, and I don't know the first thing about how to make any of those, you can see why I have doomed myself. But somehow I slowly delude myself into thinking it's doable -- without having really researched any aspect of it yet, of course.

But how much fun it would be if I could pull it off! I would have poses, including the one from his kickass "chouten wo mezasu" cutscene. I could even bring a meat bun with me for gags. And I can totally to his hair. (Once I figure out how to attach that hat thing.) Another plus: he's kind of a lone character, so I don't need a group.

I confess I had been trying not to get too carried away with the idea until after AX pictures were up and I could see what awesome cosplayers showed up to put my feeble ideas to shame. But, actually, I've only seen one Sima Shi so far. Not necessarily a good sign, if it means everyone else gave up on him, but given the number of Wang Yuanji's and Bao Sanniang's, I don't think that's really it.

So, we'll see. I'm too busy right now to invest more in the idea, but I've got almost a year to cobble something together.

Or maybe I'll be inspired by some new series I'm watching after all. I did consider Anri from Durarara!!, but I think I have a bias against doing characters in schoolgirl outfits, although I have considered several over the years. Haven't seen anyone from Blue Exorcist as yet, but the series is still young. And there's still fall and winter seasons to come.

And maybe time will pass and this unattainable idea will fade. I've already mostly gotten over the DW7 addiction, after all.

Oh, bonus points to anyone who noticed (or knew) that Sima Shi is voiced by Okiayu-sama. But I promise that's not the only reason I like him.
elwen: (Default)
Just finished watching Durarara!!, which I picked up as a result of Fanime. Didn't really seem like my kind of show at first, but I eventually got really caught up and enjoyed it a lot. A good ending for a series with incomplete gensaku. It's a weird, dark, confusing show, but there are some great LOL moments, too. Highly recommended.

At Fanime, my sister kept drooling over the Shizuo fanart and decided she had to know more. After a couple episodes, Shizuo didn't really interest me, so thought I'd focus on Izaya instead. Izaya is one of those disturbed, unflappable, always-smiling characters. Like Ichimaru Gin, or Xellos, or Break (from Pandora Hearts). But while I can like them (a lot) if they are of ambiguous alignment or voiced by Ishida Akira, I really can't stand them when they're really just twisted and evil. Die, Gin, die. So, in the end, not really a fan of Izaya after all.

Shizuo kind of grew on me, maybe because he's usually comic relief, or at least less-dark relief. Also, I think he has some of the best interactions with other characters, aside from Izaya.

Durarara!! is definitely a series with strong characters, so I like a lot of them. But maybe Shinra the most. Well, and Kadota's otaku gang. Talk about awesome moments. And plugs for other series.

Anyhow, this is just stream of consciousness braindump after having just finished the last arc and the awesome bonus episode, so don't expect me to make too much sense. I didn't think I was going to like the end very much -- I thought I'd end up with the feeling that the first big arc was better executed -- but actually the whole thing was very satisfying. Sufficiently resolved, but with the door open for a sequel after more novels come out.

I'm not going to touch the novels, though. And I'm not going to watch Baccano either. (Speaking of plugs for other series... password to the Dollars website, anyone?)

It was really weird when they started to go more and more into the Yellow Scarves, and it turned out to be a Three Kingdoms reference after all. The thought occurred to me the moment I heard the name, but I chalked it up to too much Dynasty Warriors lately (I always hated how every kingdom's story mode has to start with Yellow Turban Rebellion). But thanks to the new and more historically accurate DW7, I actually caught the reference to their slogan (蒼天已死,黃天當立), which kind of got translated out of the subtitles. Funny how things cross over sometimes. I just started watching Shin Koihime Musou again, too. Quite a different take on the Yellow Turbans there.

Last thought: I really love the Saika musical theme. So eerie.
elwen: (Default)
Man, time really flies. I guess I should post about Fanime before it all slips away...

It was a pretty chill con, so there's not a whole not to report. Compared to Yaoi-Con, when I was just running around from guest event to guest event, there wasn't a rigid schedule I had to follow at Fanime. I did go to a couple panels, but not really of the pure "fan" type: Awesomely Bad J-Pop Music Videos, the comedy club, Whose Line Is It Fanime. They were all quite good, but they were all in the evening, so didn't affect schedule much.

During the day, it was really just a bunch of wandering the dealers room and artist alley, multiple times each. And spotting cosplayers. And dropping in on random video rooms when our feet got tired. The only thing that was scheduled was the photoshoots. Also, somehow we could never manage to get to the con earlier than about 10 or 11, no matter how early we got up.

So I don't really have that many takeaways. It was a fun con, and another great masquerade year -- though it's a little discouraging that you almost have to be good at choreography/dancing to have a good skit. Not that I'd ever be in the masquerade.

One downer to the masquerade, which I might as well get out of the way: they told me at the door that I had to leave my staff under one of the tables outside of the auditorium. When I lifted the tablecloth to find a place to put it, the area was full of all sorts of random crap -- strollers, wall scrolls, and other people's long props. I had serious misgivings about leaving my staff there, but I tried to tuck it in the back in hopes that it would be spared. When I took it out, everything seemed fine at first. Then when I started to raise it, the red globe fell out and shattered on the floor. That kind of sucked, but at least I have plenty more where that one came from. But I realized later that there is actually a serious crack in one of the upper prongs, where it's pure papier-mache. To fix it, I'll probably have to sand off all the paint, and possibly several layers of newspaper, and then redo the whole section. All this, when if they'd just told me in advance, I could have gone and left my staff in the car.

So yeah, that still bums me out a lot every time I think about it. I try not to, especially since I'm retiring the Xellos cosplay indefinitely anyway. Maybe I'll never have to deal with it.

Don't get me wrong, I love my Xellos cosplay. Even if I had to wear glasses this time, and ended up not having a chance to get white gloves. I'm proud of how the whole thing turned out. And I think maybe I got slightly more recognition this time. Also, as shown in my pictures, we found another Xellos. I guess there are always two of us. :]

But I think two years is about right for a costume. Xellos is a classic, so I bet I could go back to it down the road, but not for a couple years at least.

So, window-shopping, photoshoots and random cosplay, and witty performances. I think that sums up the con.

Oh, we did watch the best videos of 2011 from AMV.org, which were pretty good. Even the serious ones. And there were some awesome comedy ones, like Every Anime Opening Ever Made (which kind of loses steam, and may be laugh-out-loud funny only in group settings, but which I think is still worth mention) and the dangerously addictive Fast Food Song (sorry, I really can't find an original video).

And while I'm posting videos, as I mentioned there were lots of great masquerade skits. I'm sure I'm forgetting some, but here's a sampling:
Portal - Amazingly well put-together, even though I didn't recognize it at first.
Team Obsidian - Just a fun little Pokemon skit.
The Hungry Cosplayers - An example of what I meant when I said you have to be good at choreography/dancing. I enjoyed the skit, but I wasn't sure I recognized the series until halfway through.
And, of course, the martial arts Avatar skit.

...okay, rewatching them now on YouTube, I realize that there were just a ton of really good skits this year, so you should just go watch them all. I remember now: the majority of the first ten made no sense, but after that it was great.

I had a soft spot for the Sengoku Basara skits, as well as Sengoku Basara cosplayers, since that was one series I'd picked up since my last Fanime. Actually, I started watching it because Okiayu-sama mentioned it at Yaoi-Con. Apparently it was his one cosplay experience, for some promotional event. Of all the awesome roles he has that he could dress up as, he had to be . . . Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Ugh. And I went into the series knowing that Okiayu-sama didn't show up until season two and really wasn't that major a role in terms of speaking time. But it turned out to be a very fun series that I enjoyed a lot. Completely silly and ridiculous, but fun. I have to mention two of the skits. The first one because they capture Sanada's delivery and Masamune's random English catchphrases so amazingly well. "Here we go!" XD And the second one because it really is pretty witty, whatever you think about the ending. (I think DateSana is blah, but you can't beat the enthusiasm of squealing fujoshi.)

So I know that was totally disjointed, but that's what I remember of Fanime right now. I was going to include thoughts about next year's Fanime -- since I'm going to be working downtown, I might as well go -- but I think I'll save that for another post. And thus I will slowly train myself to post regularly again . . . or something.
elwen: (Default)
I guess I at least owe you guys pictures. Especially [livejournal.com profile] nendil, who has been waiting to see the Avatar photoshoot. And considering how much Avatar I've been (re)watching lately...

I hope it doesn't disappoint.

Main Gallery



Some highlights:

Avatar photoshoot starts here. Melon Lord!

Super-awesome FFXIII cosplay starts here.

Chief Pikachu redux. Now with sexy sidekick. But what happened to Charlie the Charmander?! (Cf. 2009.)

With another Xellos.

Pimpin' Super Mario. My first picture, and I think still my favorite cosplay of the con.

Aaaaand... getting those pictures to you took all the time/energy/attention I have for now, so the report itself will have to wait for another time.
elwen: (Default)
I have been trying to return to a semblance of normal life (to the extent I even know what "normal" means anymore). But it's hard.

Since I last posted, here are some things that have happened:

We finished the trial on April 7. After flying back from DC, we dove straight into post-hearing briefing, which was 3 weeks of probably worse hell than the trial itself. I definitely set records at the end for least amount of sleep in a week.

Then I spent the first week of May hovering around at work not really getting anything done. On Friday, James and I drove down to San Diego. We spent two days at the Solamar lazing around and getting to know the Gaslamp district. Then we went to the zoo and Sea World. The weather was deceptively cool, and now I have a really stupid-looking tan -- the remnants of a sunburn. I went to the zoo with my family in December, but it was much nicer with more daylight hours and fewer crowds. Last time we skipped the pandas because there was a four hour wait, and didn't get to see the tigers because it had gotten dark and we kept getting lost on the Hippo Trail. This time we could walk right in to see the pandas, and over two days managed to wander the entire park. The only thing we kept visiting but never saw was the kiwis.

I took lots of pictures in San Diego, but I have been horrible about pictures this past year, so I won't try to predict when you'll ever see them. I still need to organize pictures from (1) trip to Disneyworld and Universal Studios Florida (including lots from the World of Harry Potter) and (2) trip to SoCal in December with my family.

After San Diego, we went to Pasadena for our five-year reunion. Only three people were at the dinner on Friday. At first they tried to squish us into a room with the class of 2001, which would have resulted in, at best, one of us at each table, and more likely with one person still seat-less. So they put us with a couple 1996 people instead. It was kind of funny because we were like mirror images (a Mole, a Rudd, and a Skurve). Fortunately the third person was Andrei, the only other person from Lynbrook my year, as well as a fellow ChemE, so we had a good conversation. They took pictures of each class before the dinner, and I wonder where they will show up. Us holding a check that none of us had contributed to...

Associates Tea on Sunday had better turnout. Plus there were people from classes above and below us -- not just multiples of five -- whom it was good to see.

Then we drove back up, and the fight for normalcy began. Today's the first day I managed to get up and drag myself into work before noon. But I'm still struggling to bill even one hour a day. Fortunately, the ITC case gave us enough buffer that we could do nothing for May and most of June and still be okay.

Also, I decided to clerk for the judge, which I will be starting in September. People seem pretty supportive, but I know I disappointed people at the spinoff firm, and it's hard not to have regrets. But like every time I make one of these decisions, I just have to stick with it and not look back. I will wend my way to a brief writing-filled career yet...
elwen: (squee!)
OMGWANT.

I'm definitely due for a re-watch and reread anyway.
elwen: (work)
There's nothing like the satisfaction of realizing, at 3am, that you now have three perfect, on-point cases (and can delete those cases standing for the general proposition that you cited because you were losing hope).

If only I didn't, in the words of a coworker, "sound like a tenor." (She was describing herself, but I might be the one who infected her.)

I may or may not get to play this game again on Sunday.

As long as I'm back to second soprano by then...
elwen: (Default)
I started watching Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood last week and finished with a spectacular marathon over the weekend. Are there really so few FMA Winamp skins? Where are the Roys and the Lings?

Of course Ling drove me nuts at first. But I slowly became a fan after [spoilers]. Excuse me while I go drool over these two fanarts again. (Also spoilerful. As if there are people left to be spoiled anymore.)

Anyway, I went through things too fast to have much to say about it. The thing that still sticks in my head, is that scene with Barry early on...

"What's with that calm reaction? Aren't you supposed to be more like, 'Yaaah!' or 'What's with that body?!'" *Al lifts helmet* "Yaaaah! Wh-what's with that body?"

XD

But there were lots of awesome moments throughout, of course. Often involving Roy. ^///^

I'm glad I took a break from the old series. The stuff that bothered me when I first tried to watch Brotherhood -- like Roy's change in seiyuu -- didn't really distract me this time. I guess I won't go back and finish the old series. Way too gory and drawn out and dark. Though I will regret not being able to savor Okiayu-sama as Scar. I'm not sure if I noticed, when I watched before.

But, really, after things seemed to happen so fast... did we really need a twelve episode climax? It basically got its own OP-ED, for goodness sake. I guess that's what shounen series are like. And FMA:B is shounen to the core. Which I need once in a while, I guess, considering the other stuff I've been watching lately (Angel Beats, Denyuuden, Togainu no Chi).

Anyways. I just go into these sleep-deprived stream-of-consciousness things now, apparently.

Just go enjoy the [spoiler]Ling fanart and recommend me some Winamp skins.

Oh right, I was going to mention. I did start that Geass skin recently. Will finish, dammit. After [livejournal.com profile] solidark worked so hard to help me name it. It's only . . . two years and a few months late. Holy crap I can't believe it's been that long since Geass.

Last incoherent thought: I am teaching myself to sing the first OP, "again" by Yui. It's really, really hard. For all my choir stuff, I have trouble spitting out syllables that fast.
elwen: (gaming)
[Sorry, my brain's language barriers have been melted by too much anime. That is literally the only thing I could think of for the subject line.]

Today's GameFAQs "Game of the Decade" matchup is between Smash Brothers Melee and Smash Brothers Brawl, haha.

...it's been so long since I've played either, I can't remember which is which. -_-;;

Also, I see that FFIX versus FFX is coming up soon. (And later on a Zelda versus Zelda.) FFIX must have come out of a pretty weaksauce subdivision (even with a Phoenix Wright game). I thought no one loves that game but me. Nostalgia and chibi charas FTW. Also Zidane. <3

Too bad Okami lost to Metroid Prime. And Katamari Damacy didn't make it past the first round. But in the end it's just going to be a Zelda game versus a Square game, right? Though the Square games are not that strong, actually. Can FFX or KH2 pull through?

This whole contest makes me feel old. I'm still stuck in the world of 1990's games or something. But Chrono Cross is that recent? Really?

Life.

Dec. 12th, 2010 12:32 am
elwen: (work)
[Note: this may be one of the most random, stream-of-consciousness posts I've ever written. I decided to add bolded annotations after the fact, just to make things easier to find.]

In which I don't sleep...

I think Wednesday was the longest all-nighter I've ever pulled. I got up at 7am and didn't go to bed until around 10pm the following day. The week before, we called one of our experts and he was saying how he'd just been up 40 hours working on a grant proposal, and I thought, 'Wow, 40 hours is a long time.' Well, now I know just how long.

I did doze in my chair in 10-15 minute intervals for about 40 minutes at 8am Thursday. Does it still count?

I'm not a stranger to all-nighters, but I think I usually don't make it too far past the 24 hour mark. Before college, my all-nighters tended to begin at 4pm, so if I went to bed after dinner (or frequently before), then it wasn't really very long. At Tech, I'd usually take a nap in the middle of the following day.

This time, I had to get up early because our source code expert kept saying he'd come in between 8 and 9, forcing me to be there at 8. That was really killing me, even ignoring the need to stay up late. I'm a late riser. I keep trying to fix that, but haven't gotten anywhere near succeeding. I've also discovered that 8am is when people send their kids to the elementary school I pass on the way to work, so my normally heavenly commute (5 minutes, local streets only) has a hiccup. Then, on Thursday, by the time we were done with what we'd stayed up for, it was too late to go home and shower or nap before having to be back for afternoon meetings. Well, it was technically possible, but there was a very high chance that if we went home, we'd never come back. So we stuck it out. And then by the time I went home around 6, I was in the zone, and still didn't get in bed until 10.

I took yesterday easy. Perhaps too easy, since we got a bunch of assignments dumped on us at the aforementioned Thursday afternoon meeting. It seems like we were able to remember what we were assigned to do; we remember very little else from that meeting except the overwhelming desire to close our eyes.

In which I digress into manga...

Today I went to a friend's housewarming in San Francisco. He moved to near Japantown, and the original plan was to drive up early and shop the Kinokuniya first. But I got up late, and dithered around at home, and then the drive up was miserable, so I basically got there at a good time to just drop in.

I'm not that bummed about the Kinokuniya, really. It would have been nice to go just because I was in the area and I so hate driving to and in San Francisco. (But I discovered that there's a Safeway nearby that I could probably get away with parking in for a quick Kinokuniya run...) But I've been in a covetous mood lately, being tempted by all the Christmas deals, especially those at RightStuf. And there are all these series I liked the anime of, that I'd like to follow the gensaku for, though I haven't actually bought any of them: Pandora Hearts, 07-Ghost, Uraboku, Denyuuden. But I've been reading La Esperanca lately, and really enjoying it, and it kind of makes me realize I should just sit down and work methodically through things one series at a time, preferably starting with things I already own. I'm too fresh from the anime with series like Uraboku to start following the manga, anyway.

I'm really glad I picked La Esperanca back up, though. All of the characters are so endearing, and the stories are really sweet. Even if I can't who any of the characters are. Like when I got to the Erwin story, I was like, 'Who the heck is Erwin? Is his roommate Henri?' It took me a volume and a half to be able to reliably distinguish between Henri and Robert. Sometimes it's still tough when you can't see their collars.

In which I hate San Francisco and get drunk (not really)...

Anyways. The housewarming.

I was reminded how different San Francisco and the people who live there are. I really like my friend, and would love to hang out with him and catch up more, but his friends are not like my friends. His work is probably not like my work, even though we are both patent litigators in BigLaw. Hanging out with his motley gathering of friends was fine for a night, but I am just not used to those personality types. Toward the end, I discovered that a couple were apparently second-years from his firm, and . . . wow. I just can't imagine there being any people like that at my office. I like my people better.

But I'm glad I went and got to see it. And reaffirmed that I'm not missing out on anything that I would desire. Maybe that he can have such a nice apartment 2 miles from his office (which is about the distance I am from mine). But, his 2 miles goes through downtown is 10 minutes, according to Google. I hate San Francisco streets. I do wish east Menlo Park had more than crappy college student apartments and $5 million homes, though.

I think I drank more alcohol than I have in a while. It's hard to tell because I don't know what the alcohol content of all these things are. I think I did half a shot of vodka, a shot of tequila, and a shot of soju mixed with Calpico in some unknown ratio. Maybe it's not that much. I felt a little clumsy trying to type in my BlackBerry password while at his place, but other than that I felt fine, and I drove home okay... As long as I don't have a hangover tomorrow. But someday I think I need to get drunk just to have the experience.

In which I digress into seiyuu...

I got to listen to a couple of episodes of Omae ni Hyper Rainbow while driving up and back. There was someone who wrote a letter to them and kept calling him "Okiayu-sama." ^_^b I am so glad I got these CDs. They actually have re-listening value (because my comprehension is so bad, sigh). And speaking of covetousness, it makes me want the Souken no Mai CDs all the more. C'mo~~~n, exchange rate!

I think that's enough jumbled topics in one post, don't you?
elwen: (Default)
I can't believe it's been half a month since I posted. Ugh. Time passes way too quickly when you need to get things done but would rather sleep and sprawl in bed all day. I got to take a deposition, though. I think I did okay, and actually thought of some useful things to ask on the fly, which is always my weakness, but the witness didn't remember much, so it was still kind of a salvaging operation. Anyways.

Thanksgiving was good. I hung out with my sister and got some new clothes. Somehow despite all my resolution to the contrary, we did end up getting up at 3am to go mob the stores. For no more than a GPS, which had very few people hovering around it until the last minute, and then suddenly there was a swarm the moment the guy opened the case. I think I hate 99% of the people in this world.

What I really want the time to do right now is go watch Harry Potter. Before everyone else has seen it and no one will go with me. (Also before it's not in theaters anymore.) I'm hoping when my sister comes back after finals, it won't be too late yet.

In spite of all this, I have still kept up with Togainu no Chi and Densetsu no Yuusha no Densetsu. Yeah. I'm not actually that swarmed under by things. I'm just bad at it. Also very tired and incoherent lately, as this post demonstrates. I hope I'm not getting sick.
elwen: (Default)
So I mentioned that the CEO of Digital Manga made a big plug for their new Digital Manga Guild project at Yaoi-Con. He really tailored his pitch to the yaoi fans, so I was left with the impression that he was starting with only yaoi titles and publishers. I thought the idea was great, but piloting it with yaoi not so much. After looking at the site more carefully, and watching the video of his not-tailored-to-Yaoi-Con pitch, I realize that it is not just for yaoi, so now I am even more excited to support it and see where it goes.

So what is it? I'm just going to crib the description I just posted at Baka-Tsuki:

Digital Manga is starting an interesting project that might be worth watching in the area of getting content to fans within the bounds of copyright law. They managed to convince some publishers to go to a revenue-sharing model. So no up-front fee to license a series, which is often a great deterrent to getting many series. Instead, the translators, publishers, and DM will split whatever money comes in. It seems the plan is to recruit translators (and editors and letterers) from the scanlation community and really bring them in from the cold, so to speak. Whether this will work is anybody's guess, but this is probably the only venture I've ever seen that even tries to reconcile the demand for translated content, the willingness of fans to do it mostly for the love of the series, and the need to deliver money back to the authors.


I signed up shortly after getting back from Yaoi-Con, and since then I got an announcement that the tests for translator, editor, and letterer are now open. Of course, I have too busy since then to take the test -- which also does not bode well for my ability to participate in actual translating down the road -- but I really want to at least keep my foot in the door just to see where this all goes.

Of course I encourage any of you who are interested to take a look and maybe sign up, but I also realize there aren't a whole lot of details out there yet. (The video says the revenue split has yet to be decided, but let's be honest here, are people on the fan side really thinking about that? If you're a professional translator, this probably isn't going to sustain you. And if you're a scanlator, I think the legitimacy is compensation enough.) So right now I can't say anything too strongly. But I'll report back on the selection of titles once things have gotten that far.

[I confess, I have this tiny hope that somehow I will find a title I've already worked on, and we could spare everyone some work.]

ETA: Okay, despite the general-ness of their website, their FAQ in the forums says they are focusing on yaoi titles initially. Bah. Well... I guess all the more reason I need to work at it, so hopefully they will keep expanding the venture. :|

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