East Meets West [2016]

07 March 2017

Actually got up early on a weekend (wut?) and decided to run around to some spots I hadn’t been to in ages on the west side (west of me, anyway)! I really need to do a better job of taking pictures of the outsides of these places, lol. (Sorry for the crap cell phone quality. OTL)

First stop on my adventure was Big Lou’s, a consignment shop/slot car raceway on Sepulveda, where you can find all sorts of interesting things for sale.

From plushies to ornaments and from Hot Wheels to Transformers, there’s something for everyone here!

I’m pretty sure all those comic book standees are handmade. :O

Afterwards, made it over to Gardena’s Tokyo Central & Main supermarket, which used to be a Marukai.

Another reason to quit this hobby. DX

Here’s an entire section dedicated to Dragon Ball.

If Dollfies aren’t your thing, you can still invest in an Evangelion action figure that costs more than your car payment!

It’s a good thing I haven’t gotten into Gundam (yet)!

The Pokemon saw me coming, haha.

While I didn’t buy anything at Big Lou’s or Tokyo Central & Main, I did buy stuff at second-hand bookstore Book Off’s Del Amo and Gardena locations. I impulse bought the Nono action figure since I actually wound up liking Gunbuster 2: Diebuster the second time around and finally completed my (regular version) collection of the Japanese version of Your Lie in April — for much cheaper than what Kinokuniya was charging in-store or even at AX!

See the full album on my Fan Page on Facebook and be sure to Like The Vault on Facebook, where I’m finally caught up through 2010! 😀

2016 09 03 Sat: East Meets West

TOM LA SALE! [2016]

07 February 2017

When I heard that the Tokyo Otaku Mode (TOM) Shop was pulling up stakes and heading up north, I cut out of work early to check out their moving sale! Not sure if they’ve ever opened their doors to the public before, but I order from them all the time online. They usually have some great promos and their loyalty program (in the form of TOM Points) is an added bonus — even though they’ve reworked some of their rules regarding the program.

Most of the items were unmarked so you had to bring them up for them to check the price online. What wasn’t so cool was that the Aniplex+ items were full price (as noted) — which meant they were actually more expensive than buying them on their site!

I’m not a gamer, but all non-figure merchandise was 40%!

Happened to run into Sojian-senpai while I was down there so we did some exploring and wound up grabbing noms at Hakata Ikkousha Ramen.

This was the only loot I wound up getting — a Nendoroid of Best Girl Funami Yui from YuruYuri and a free bag of a Japanese snack that wound up being pretty meh, lol. There were a few things that caught my eye but they seemed to be a bit on the pricey side, even with the discount.

These were taken on my fixed focus cell phone, so excuse the terrible quality. ^^;

See the full album on my Fan Page on Facebook and be sure to Like The Vault on Facebook, where I’m finally caught up through 2010! 😀

2016 08 22 Mon: Tokyo Otaku Mode LA Warehouse Garage SALE!

Anime Expo 2016 Goodsmile Racing

20 December 2016

The final post of 2016 is the final post from Anime Expo! This supplement features the Goodsmile Racing exhibit and related itasha!

Good Smile Company introduced Goodsmile Racing in 2008. With Crypton Future Media’s Hatsune Miku as its Race Queen mascot and fans as its sponsors, GSR won Japan’s 2011 Super GT GT300 class series race and continues to churn out new mascot designs and merchandise every year.

The first Racing Miku was illustrated by redjuice, an artist I actually have an artbook by (although I don’t think this Miku is really indicative of his style).

The only Racing Miku figure I have is the 2012 version, which features in my film Looking for Miku!

Not much on display for 2016’s season but you could buy Nendoroid and figma (not pictured) versions of Racing Miku along with other GSR goods.

Here are 3D versions of Racing Miku’s outfits!

Of course, there were a few GSR and Vocaloid-inspired itasha on display as well!

Someone with good taste decided to go with Racing Luka instead!

Hey, it’s peppymiint cosplay!

See the full album on my Fan Page on Facebook and be sure to Like The Vault on Facebook, where I’m finally caught up through 2010! 😀

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

2016 07 04 Mon: Anime Expo 2016 Goodsmile Racing

Full Coverage of Anime Expo 2016:

2016 07 01 Fri: Anime Expo 2016, Day 1: KimiUso Ver.
2016 07 01 Fri: Anime Expo 2016, Day 1: Standard Ver.
2016 07 02 Sat: Anime Expo 2016, Day 2
2016 07 03 Sun: Anime Expo 2016, Day 3
2016 07 04 Mon: Anime Expo 2016, Day 4
2016 07 04 Mon: Anime Expo 2016 Anniversaries
2016 07 04 Mon: Anime Expo 2016 Itasha
2016 07 04 Mon: Anime Expo 2016 GSC Racing

Anime Expo 2016 Anniversaries

06 December 2016

The first of three(!) supplemental Anime Expo albums, since I took a bunch of pictures and am too lazy to post them all at once. ^^;

There were two big anniversaries being celebrated at this year’s AX; AX’s 25th and P.A.Works‘ 15th! Both had sizable exhibits in the Entertainment Hall that allowed attendees to check out the historical artifacts related to each.

This wall at the AX 25th Anniversary Exhibit contained Program Guides from every AX! How many do you have?

Anime Expo used to be known as AnimeCon. I actually grabbed a couple of those Anime Reference Guides at PMX many years later!

Evangelion and British stoicism obviously influenced some of these shirt designs.

What are the chances that some artwork destined for Charity Auction made it into the AX archives?

P.A.Works also had an Anniversary Exhibit!

Big banners of Tenshi and Yuri from Angel Beats!

Huge row of standups! Which one is your waifu?

Wait, Noizi Ito worked on Another? Guess that’s going to the top of the list!

Enjoy these trips down Memory Lane, especially if it’s your first!

See the full album on my Fan Page on Facebook and be sure to Like The Vault on Facebook, where I’m finally caught up through 2010! 😀

2016 07 04 Mon: Anime Expo 2016 Anniversaries

Full Coverage of Anime Expo 2016:

2016 07 01 Fri: Anime Expo 2016, Day 1: KimiUso Ver.
2016 07 01 Fri: Anime Expo 2016, Day 1: Standard Ver.
2016 07 02 Sat: Anime Expo 2016, Day 2
2016 07 03 Sun: Anime Expo 2016, Day 3
2016 07 04 Mon: Anime Expo 2016, Day 4
2016 07 04 Mon: Anime Expo 2016 Anniversaries
2016 07 04 Mon: Anime Expo 2016 Itasha
2016 07 04 Mon: Anime Expo 2016 GSC Racing

Anime Expo 2016, Day 4

01 November 2016

The last day of any AX is usually pretty hectic, but this time — since there were some pretty weak offerings at the Charity Auction — I was able to finally take a closer look at the things in the Entertainment Hall (albums linked below), finish my run through the Exhibit Hall, and also score some sweet loot!

First order of the day (after checking out of the hotel) was to stop by the Charity Auction. Here’s a pair of clear files signed by voice actor Suwabe Junichi.

Sushio contributed some cool little Kill la Kill sketches.

I was prepared to spend some money on an original sketch (or even the one this signboard is based on, which was displayed at the Kodansha HUB), but unfortunately this was all there was from Arakawa-sensei. So, so disappoint.

Since Charity Auction was a bust, headed to the Entertainment Hall. I think this chalk painting by the Chalk Twins is of Guts from Berserk.

Found a Kao-chan! Tried to get her to pose like that Aniplex+ figure but it was too crowded, lol.

I still have yet to watch a single episode of Dragonball Z.

This Saber Bride (and sword) was awesome!

These skate decks are too pretty to stomp on!

Line art for an upcoming deck design featuring everyone’s favorite Vocaloid, Hatsune Miku.

There were definitely some highs and lows, as with every AX, but Kao-chan helped me through it this year! 😀

See the full album on my Fan Page on Facebook and be sure to Like The Vault on Facebook, where I’m finally caught up through 2010! 😀

2016 07 04 Mon: Anime Expo 2016, Day 4

Full Coverage of Anime Expo 2016:

2016 07 01 Fri: Anime Expo 2016, Day 1: KimiUso Ver.
2016 07 01 Fri: Anime Expo 2016, Day 1: Standard Ver.
2016 07 02 Sat: Anime Expo 2016, Day 2
2016 07 03 Sun: Anime Expo 2016, Day 3
2016 07 04 Mon: Anime Expo 2016, Day 4
2016 07 04 Mon: Anime Expo 2016 Anniversaries
2016 07 04 Mon: Anime Expo 2016 Itasha
2016 07 04 Mon: Anime Expo 2016 GSC Racing

2015: The Year in Anime

26 July 2016

Here is the final recap post for 2015; the anime I watched!

Started the year off rewatching a couple of films, the first being the third in the series of Puella Magi Madoka Magica films, Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magika the Movie Part 3: -Rebellion- (劇場版 魔法少女まどか☆マギカ 叛逆の物語). It was fun to rewatch this sequel to the original TV series/two recap movies and even more fun to watch my friends’ reactions to the mindscrew ending!

Image taken from my coverage of the Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magika the Movie Part 3: -Rebellion- premiere in Hollywood!

Next, I unexpectedly wound up rewatching the anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day The Movie (あの日見た花の名前を僕達はまだ知らない。 めんまへの手紙 / A Letter to Menma). While I didn’t cry the first time I saw the film, there was enough distance from the last viewing that I was bawling my eyes out before it ended.

And, yes, I’m still pissed about those letters (which you can read about here) to this day. XP

I continued to revisit old acquaintances through a couple of OVAs, the first of which was the Highschool of the Dead (学園黙示録 HIGHSCHOOL OF THE DEAD) OVA “Drifters of the Dead”. If you thought the main series, which is about highschoolers trying to survive a zombie outbreak, was chock full of fanservice, the OVA pushes it right to the edge of hentai. >/////< The whole thing is pretty much a fantasy/side story/beach episode with no real bearing on the plot. Despite its shortcomings, I actually enjoyed the TV series but since the original work is on an indefinite hiatus, this is prolly the last episode this show will ever release.

Photo of Saeko from the Highschool of the Dead photoshoot I did with Tora-rin.

To be honest, I don’t even remember the Kill la Kill (キルラキル) OVA, but I know I watched it, lol. It was about graduation and closing down the academy and one of the minor characters trying to exact revenge, but honestly I think that plot was the last element that went into creating this over-the-top final visit to Honnouji Academy.

Image of Fight Club Mako from FanimeCon 2014, but you can read my thoughts on the show itself here.

After that, it was time to take the Wayback Machine way back to one of my very first anime, Project A-ko! I’d had the box set sitting on my shelf for literally years and finally decided it was time to crack it open. I’d enjoyed the first A-ko movie when I was younger but never really saw the rest of the entries in the series (save for an unsubbed A-ko 2 and maybe parts of A-ko 3 or A-ko 4).

Project A-ko (プロジェクトA子) came out in the mid-1980s and is a zany fantasy/sci-fi parody film that features tons of in-jokes and homages to other works. I hadn’t watched it a long while and I certainly didn’t know as much about anime then as I do now, so it was like watching it for the first time and it was great fun catching all the things I didn’t remember or notice previously!

The film focuses on three girls named, appropriately, A-ko, B-ko, and C-ko (“Girl A”, “Girl B”, and “Girl C”). A-ko and C-ko are besties but B-ko wants C-ko all to herself so she continually challenges A-ko to increasingly insane battles featuring increasingly insane mecha of her own design. Unfortunately for B-ko, A-ko is ridiculously strong (for reasons alluded to at the end of the film). They ultimately get caught up with aliens who are searching for their long-lost princess and (even more) mayhem ensues. The film features one of my favorite anime soundtracks, which was actually composed by two American musicians (Joey Carbone and Richie Zito) and has English-language songs.

The three sequels, unfortunately, are much weaker. Project A-ko 2: The Plot of the Daitokuji Financial Group (プロジェクトA子2 大徳寺財閥の陰謀) is about B-ko’s father and the search for alien technology; Project A-ko 3: Cinderella Rhapsody (プロジェクトA子3 シンデレララプソディ) features A-ko and B-ko fighting over a boy’s affections; and Project A-ko 4: FINAL (プロジェクトA子 完結篇) sees previously minor character Miss Ayumi (the girls’ teacher) preparing to get married.

The two OVAs, A-ko The VS (A-ko The ヴァーサス), alternatively called Project A-ko: Uncivil Wars or Project A-ko: Grey Side/Blue Side, were also made back in the day, when OVAs were more experimental and tended to be unrelated to the main stories they were offshoots of. In this alternate universe, bounty-hunting partners A-ko and B-ko attempt to save a kidnapped C-ko from space pirates with the help of a weird little alien named Maruten. It has none of the charm of the rest of the series and I wish they would’ve spent the money making an A-ko 5, lol.

I’ve never run across any A-ko cosplayers or even A-ko merchandise besides the English-translated DVDs and comics/graphic novels, so here is a picture from my Back to School sale (items listed in the post are still available, natch)!

I revisited the movie sequel to Tiger & Bunny, Tiger & Bunny The Movie -The Rising-, which still managed to get me in the feels.

Photo from the theatrical screening that you can read about here.

Following that was (finally) something new to me: Hanasaku Iroha (花咲くいろは) aka HanaIro. After picking it up at AX 2013‘s Charity Auction (still seriously wondering why they didn’t get Mari Okada to autograph it as well since she was there to promote it with P.A. Works producer Nobuhiro Kikuchi but that’s just par for the fail course for AX), it sat on my shelf for three years for no particular reason besides my working on Looking for Miku and prolly fear that Okada-sensei would fail to come through. As much as I wanted to like it, this coming-of-age tale of a girl working at her grandmother’s hot spring inn didn’t live up to my favorite Okada-written works (Toradora! and AnoHana).

Loot photo from coverage of Anime Expo 2013, Day 4.

Going back once more to something familiar, I decided to revisit Diebuster (Aim for the Top 2! / トップをねらえ 2!), the sequel to possibly my favorite anime OVA series of all time, Gunbuster. Why didn’t I just rewatch Gunbuster? I have no idea; I think I was just on a break-open-the-shrinkwrap kick, lol. I’d bought the ridiculously expensive single discs even though I’d been incredibly disappointed by the sequel, but having only seen it as a fansub I decided to give it another go with the official release. I’m happy to say that it made all the difference to my enjoyment of the alien invasion show, and I came to appreciate the connections to the original and the expansion of the universe. The included booklets and notes were also a nice extra.

Photo of Diebuster cosplayers from AX13.

Was happy to revisit some old friends on my anime feels trip and also glad to meet some new ones! Feel free to make your recommendations on what I should watch next in the comments below, and check out my Fan Page on Facebook as well as The Vault on Facebook for more of my adventures!

Your lie in April [2016]

10 May 2016

“Just play with sincerity, and put your all into giving the performance of a lifetime.” -Miyazono Kawori

Regular readers may know that I usually just do a Year in Anime post recapping the anime series and movies I watched the previous year (though I haven’t done one yet for 2015; gomen, ne!), but Your lie in April (四月は君の嘘 / Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso) just made Top 3 and I can’t wait another year to talk about it! Sorry that this means the post will be light on actual photos, since I haven’t had time to buy any merchandise besides this one figure of Miyazono Kaori and I haven’t seen any of the characters cosplayed in the real.

YLiA Title (Screen Capture)

Of course, I will try to keep this as spoiler-free as possible by talking about it in general terms; even all of the still images are screen caps from the opening sequence and not from the show itself. (I really don’t understand people who like to actively seek out spoilers; it takes so much of the joy and thrill of discovery out of engaging with a work for the first time, and can really color/ruin the experience.)

Kaori and Kousei Perform (Screen Capture)

The story of a traumatized pianist named Kousei Arima (有馬 公生 / Arima Kōsei), a free-spirited violinist named Kaori Miyazono (宮園 かをり / Miyazono Kawori), and the effect that they have on each other, Your lie in April (known colloquially as KimiUso or YLiA; not sure why they capitalize the “L” in the abbreviation but not in the full title) explores the universal themes of love, regret, facing your problems, finding your path, and leaving your mark on the world.

Kousei and Kaori with friends Tsubaki Sawabe (澤部 椿 / Sawabe Tsubaki) and Ryouta Watari (渡 亮太 / Watari Ryōta) (Screen Capture)

While it’s not a perfect series — it occasionally veers too far into slapstick as well as melodrama, and some reviewers have raised concerns about its treatment of its weightier material — it’s still among the most beautiful, moving, wrenching, and uplifting works I’ve ever seen (animated or otherwise), with little of the squicky weirdness or questionable content that would make you hesitant to show it to a younger sibling or to your child (although I’d say 13+ is best due to the aforementioned subject matter).

Kousei (Screen Capture)

Your lie in April utilizes the full, combined power of sound and pictures; even though it’s a hopeful, life-affirming show, for days afterward I had that same empty ache in my chest that I get when something wonderful and colorful has ended. After spending 22 episodes rooting for these characters, it was hard not to miss them. Like any bravura performance, Your lie in April resonates and stays with you long after it’s over, qualities that inspire me as I try to create my own works. These traits also make it a magnificent gateway anime series, one that I’ll be recommending to anyone unfamiliar with anime or who thinks anime is just boobs and tentacles.

Kaori (Screen Capture)

Based on the original manga written and illustrated by Naoshi Arakawa (新川 直司 / Arakawa Naoshi), Your lie in April was produced by A-1 Pictures — which has also produced other shows I’ve enjoyed such as Kannagi, AnoHana, Sound of the Sky, and The Idolmaster — and distributed by Aniplex of America. It’s currently streaming for free on Netflix, Crunchyroll, Hulu, and the Aniplex Channel in the original Japanese with English subtitles; Netflix also has an English dub, which I’ve read is amazing.

Tsubaki (Screen Capture)

Your lie in April was more than just a series to me; it was an experience! While I hesitate to call it life-changing (it’s an overused phrase and such a cliché thing to say), it’s definitely one of those seminal works that will shape and influence me for a long time to come. I can’t recommend it enough! (Disclaimer: I’m not getting paid to promote nor do I get any money from clicks on links to the show; I’m just a passionate fan who thinks everyone should experience this great series.)

Watari (Screen Capture)

Even though Looking for Miku (ミクを求める) is pretty much locked, I’ll be going back to incorporate some Your lie in April references; hopefully you’ll be able to spot them when Looking for Miku makes its long-awaited premiere at this year’s Ninja-Con on Saturday, 4 June, at 5pm in LP2!

Get updated first by Liking my Fan Page on Facebook and learn about my not-so-mysterious past by Liking The Vault on Facebook!

%d bloggers like this: