AX 2016 – A Weekend in Review

Anime Expo has quickly become one of the largest conventions in Southern California, exploding over the past few years into an absolute monster. Four days celebrating all things otaku; from anime to cosplay and fashion to music, everyone can find something they love crammed within the LA Convention Center. This year the SSB Crew was in the thick of it holding things down. It’s been a week since the convention and I’m still having trouble getting over the post­-con depression, but bear with me while I try to collect my thoughts about the weekend.

Day 1 was chill, there were pools involved and lines were circumvented to prevent potential heatstroke or death by otaku stampede. Even though some of us were only able to walk the floor for a good thirty minutes before it closed for the day, there was still plenty to see. Of particular note to me was a booth that had Aikatsu merchandise! That was something I never thought I’d see out here in the states; they had one of the BDs from a recent live that I’d been searching for and just about every single from the first season all the way to Aikatsu Stars. It took a lot of willpower to avoid dropping all the money I had then and there. The night ended with a few of us going out for some KBBQ with resident idol otaku vlogger Jimmy “Swoletaku” Pham to swap stories and just unwind after the first day madness. Oh, and to eat our combined weight in brisket.

Day 2 was absolutely stacked. There wasn’t a single moment that wasn’t spent running around the entire convention center in order to catch an event or stand in some arbitrary color coded line. The first event of the day was the Love Live! Sunshine!! event, something that couldn’t possibly be tainted by the awful communication from convention staff. The line was filled with all kinds of fans, from hardcore otaku to casual watchers everyone was excited for a chance to catch a glimpse of the new series and the girls that would bring it all to life. Between the work of a great MC and the amazing personalities of the members of Aqours, it was an absolute blast. We were lucky enough to see them do their character introductions, answer some fan questions and provide a bit of insight into the project. To top it all off we were even able to watch the first episode of Love Live! Sunshine!! before anyone else in the US!

After a quick nap back at the hotel I was out to wait in line to pick up my ticket for the Anisong World Matsuri Japan Super Live later in the night. The line, surprisingly, moved pretty fast. I was out with time to spare, time that was spent walking the floor and mingling with some friends I haven’t seen in a while. During the day I found out that there was going to be an event involving an idol group called Dempagumi.inc. I’m still relatively new to the entire idol scene but considering Swoletaku along with some of our mutual friends that are also big into idols were all going to be there I knew I’d be in for an amazing time. Needless to say I got my ass down there along with Brian and Mario to sit through a presentation for a mobile game before getting absolutely insane for their performance. After seeing them live I have definitely become a fan and will be following them much closer than before.

Someone actually knows about Aikatsu?

Unfortunately that entire ran along aside Anisong World Matsuri Japan Super Live. By the time we got out of that, I only had a couple hours left in the performance. That was still enough to catch the last few songs from T.M. Revolution, all of Sphere’s set and JAM Project’s entire set. Despite being tired after an entire day of running around, dehydration and a few hours of sleep I still managed to get on my feet for some great songs. It was my first time listening to Sphere but man were those songs great. JAM Project brought it with GONG and The Hero along with other classics. I think I ended up really messing up my elbow from all of the cheering because it was dead the next few days.

Ran into a sick Cyber Nico cosplayer that night.

Day 3 started off right, there was actually a full night’s sleep. Twitch and I got down to the exhibition hall to grab some sweet jackets before we went our separate ways. He got Kotori’s colors and I needed to rep Nico. Afterwards Brian, Mario and I linked up with some other friends and walked the hall floor until closing. Afterwards we went out for one final meal with all of our friends out, did some dumb dabbing outside LA Live and made some memories that would last a lifetime. Day 3 was the perfect end to an amazing weekend. Good food, good company and goodtimes. I wouldn’t ask for anything else.

No seriously, these jackets are awesome.

All in all, AX 2016 may have suffered from overcrowding and flawed staff but it was still a priceless summer memory. There were lots of laughs, lots of things I’d never thought I’d be able to experience in person and a lot of booze. A whole lot of booze. But at least it was all with the best friends anyone could imagine.

 

Go-Busters? More like Maybe-Busters

FACT: Japanese tokusatsu (masked hero shows) have been in Japan for over 40 years. They are also loved by both children and adults alike, including man-children such as myself. I’ve been powering through season after season since a friend recommended them this passed Anime Expo,

GB01

The latest series I finished is Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters. It’s hard for me to hate on Super Sentai but here goes… Suits, weapons and buddyroids are great. The robots are kind of meh compared to past seasons. The premise of stealing energy supplies is innovative and futuristic. However, when it comes to Go-Busters, I have two honest recommendations:

1) Watch the series from Episode 28
2) Watch the Go-Busters vs. Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger movie

I say this to spare you a great deal of trouble. I initially watched the first 20 episodes of this show and did not feel like continuing. After suggestions came from fellow Sentai fans to continue, I tried again and felt the same way. The core group was really boring until Jin Masato/Beet Buster and J/Stag Buster showed up to add humor to the cast. Other than that, it was really hard to like the show.

GB02

However, there is a notable change in the series. From EP28 onward, the opening credits change to an uptempo, more “anime” sequence. After this change, the style and pace of the show improve dramatically. Not sure if they picked up on low viewership numbers or if the show was hard for kids to watch but the overall quality increases after this shift.

The final episodes are very good. Plot lines evolve and give more depth to the core group and enemies. The show’s second act almost makes you forget how horrible the first half was. Keyword: ALMOST… Either way, you’ll be tearing up a little by the final mission.

GB03

THE VERDICT: Follow my two suggestions or just watch Hikouin Sentai Akibaranger. It also focuses on a team of three and is really funny! Go-Busters has its good points, but those good points cannot will you through an entire season. And to think… Saban is skipping over this gem to adapt Zyuuden Sentai Kyoryuger… (/end sarcasm) lol. More on that to come.
__________
Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters was created by Toei Company, Ltd. Original run was from February 2012 to February 2013 on TV Asahi. Modified screencaps taken from Orends: Range.

Metal Gear Sunrising…Good Morning!

Freddie Wong. We all know who he is, we all know what he does, and we all love him. If you don’t know..shame on you (and you call yourself a nerd.)

safe_image1

GOOD MORNING! waddup’ doe! some of you are starting your morning routines. and the rest of you are still asleep…lucky bastards.

Have you ever wondered what some of your favorite video game characters would do if they really existed? I’ve always wondered what Bubsy the Bobcat did in the morning…like, did he wake up and make shitty video games and beat up on Aliens that stole his balls of yarn, or did he also brush his teeth and use a men’s facial cleanser to exfoliate his skin like I do…anyway.

In this video Metal Gear’s Raiden meets Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale in American Psycho) in this showcase of slick CG wizardry with a fairly well-matched voiceover. The Certified YouTube star still manages to impress and entertain with his ongoing pillaging of video game culture and mastery of special effects software. Just when I think I’ve had enough videos showing just how hilarious it is when the constraints of a game character are brought to the fore by placing them in real-life situations, he drops this gem.

Meet the cast of Strawberry Scented Burnout!

from left: Sandra Kumakawa, Jay Bautizo, Justin Cristiano, and Lee Mina.  Team Strawberry, yo.

from left: Sandra Kumakawa, Jay Bautizo, Justin Amador, and Lee Mina. Team Strawberry, yo.

In this run of Strawberry Scented Burnout, Jay Bautizo is an ex-SEAL leading a group of Spec-OPS operators from around the world in a mission to protect the geek world from those that would fuck it up.  Oh, and bad people.  Because bad people suck.

Jay Bautizo – Jay is the leader of Team Strawberry, the international spec-OPS squad dedicated to protecting the geek universe and fucking up bad guys.  He’s a hardcore otaku and an ex-Navy SEAL.  When people give otaku a hard time, he’s usually the first to speak up against it.  He can’t keep his powerlevel hidden, it’s over 9000.

Justin Amador – Justin is a suave ladies man, or he’d like to think so.  An ex-Delta Force sniper, he spent some time with the FBI HRT doing hostage rescues and investigations.  He knows how to get the job done.  Justin likes to keep his geek powerlevel hidden, because he thinks it would “kill his image”.  Whatever that means.

Sandra Kumagawa – Sandra is a half-British/Japanese agent from the British SIS.  Her work ethic is impeccable, and she serves as Team Strawberry’s technology and intelligence officer.  She hails from Manchester City, and is a huge soccer fan.  She’s clear, concise, and to the point, but she’s still kind of shy around guys.  However, get a couple pints in her, and another “chavvy” side comes out.  Don’t speak ill of Manchester United when she’s within earshot.

Lee Mina (Western Reckoning: Mina Lee) – Mina was Jay’s taekwondo student.  After going back to Korea, she joined the ROK Army’s 707th “White Tiger” spec ops squad.  She also received a 4th degree black belt in Taekwondo, outranking her former instructor.  Mina serves as the squad’s explosives expert and is very energetic, brash, impulsive, and loud.  She’s got her eyes set on a certain guy, and she won’t stop until she’s got her claws dug into him.

Want to see how this will all turn out?  Chapter 1 is being worked on as we speak!  Stay tuned!

Creepity Creep Creep

Howdy patnahs, I’m Ericka. Mr Twitchy decided to turn my everyday disasters into a new column. I get this a lot “What happened this time, lil sis?”–YES. I’m the “Normal Geek Girl” though I don’t feel worthy of the honor of that title. I’ve evolved from an outwardly looking geek to an inner geek, and oh, I can prove it.

How Embarrassing.

Raised the typical Asian way, GET STRAIGHT A’s or consider your life OVER.

It was always assumed my path set before me was to be a programmer. And oh, did I avoid it when I got older. Went in Biomedical Engineering, then Computer Science–wanted to punch my professors in the face, then finally moving on to the medical field. AND GUESS WHAT I’M DOING NOW?! Yep, Web Programming, Web Design, and iOS App developer. NOT what I went to school for. Can’t fight fate. DAMN. AND OF COURSE, writing for this lovely blog.

I want to learn how to do everything. Especially things that only “boys” are supposed to do, I have some inferiority complex and feel like I want to know that I CAN do it too. Seriously. Case and point: I wanted to learn how to fix a car, bought an s14 w/ manual trans, learned how to drift. Done and Done.

I need to know when people are talking crap about me, and I can do so in Tagalog, Spanish, Japanese, and Korean. Keep me away from MMO RPGs because I will disappear from life for a VERY long time. Same with Korean Dramas. SIDETRACKED.

Let me tell you this–I LOVE NERDY, GEEKY, INTELLIGENT guys. You know, the ones who read because they WANT to, have their own hobbies…such as anime, video games, can tell you about the most random of random things yet catch your interest because how enthusiastic they are about it…anyway. They make the BEST boyfriends.

BUT..they need to learn a few tricks of the trade. Well, you’re in luck. Use my horrible stories and experiences as a learning tool. For now I will bring you up before I bring you down in the next posts. As suggested, “HOW NOT TO ACT CREEPY”..well, here’s some good qualities for you.

CONFIDENT: It may not be in the same sense as other guys, but damn, they are confident when they are talking about something that interests them. Just give up. Come on, I don’t care what kind of socially awkward penguin you are but you must agree with me here. They don’t care what people think of them–or shouldn’t anyway…

LOYAL: As dedicated as they are to not missing out on that raids/instances, they can be just as dedicated to their ladies. Though, there needs to be a balance here when it comes to the two–I’ll get into that later.

FUNNY: 99.9% of the time these guys will always get you to laugh and have a good time…even get you out of your OWN comfort zone. Always good.

GENTLEMEN: These guys don’t know how to be playboys. You’ll appreciate this later.

I’ll stop here…but now that I’ve made you feel better about yourselves, in the next post I’ll tell you HOW to use these traits in your FAVOR and scrap the CREEPY, stereotypical behaviors. Oh goodness what am I getting myself into.

25 years of Awesome.

Before I talk about the indestructible game of all time Street Fighter I gotta give a shout out to one of my best friend’s in college. Happy Birthday you crazy Owl.

So street fighter is 25 just like me and I must say..we age damn fine! As a lad I detested,hated, reviled this game. Why? Because I was not able to do the hadouken! I was not fierce enough or just didn’t have a sense of timing and Daslim scared the living shit out of me. Then when Street Fighter 4 came along…I discovered my main DAN(FATTTHERRRRRRRRRR) and finally the game made sense. I secretly played at my friend’s house a lot, and told no one about my secret training. I decided to unleash my new found skills on my brother by doing Akuma’s special and walking away. Then walking back to school him with Dan. So Happy Bday street fighter may we both age handsome.

 

Old old school (Dedicated to all my homies from the airport at SWC).

Which one were you? Fess up.

Yes, shit was cray cray back then.  10 years ago, I was a member of an anime club.  It was called the anime and games club.  My claim to fame back then?  My cousin was one of the founding members (and another founding member is part of Team Mixed Nuts today.)  Our own MFNegatron also met me during this dangerous period of my life.

Durning my tenure at the “AnG” as it was called, I met all sorts of wonderful and crazy people.  I also spent time doing Judo, Kung-Fu, a girlfriend (that would later serve as the basis of a manga), and classes when I could spare the time.  So like most other kids stuck in the junior college trap, I spent about 4 years at SWC.  Most of those years were spent in the company of people like those in the picture above.

I don’t regret it though.  It was because of those fellow geeks that I was able to accept my geek side fully and live without regret or limits for the first time.  Up to that point, I had to keep my powerlevel relatively hidden since nobody could really relate to my geekdom.  We had anime viewings, club festivals, and game days….but we spent a lot of time dicking around in our cubicle.  And people loved to complain about that.

(Fortunately I didn’t mind reaching out to the other clubs in the ASO, so we eventually reached mutual understandings.  For the more stubborn clubs, I would show up in my Judo gi and be up front with them.)

Fast forward some 10 years later, and I’m now a staffer for Anime Conji, San Diego’s first anime convention.  The more that I think about it, the more I realize shit hasn’t changed.  Anime fans are still the same.  Maybe that’s why I don’t mind working with anime otaku, because I’m used to it.

Which brings me to a point.  I am the way I am because I was shaped by all these experiences I had.  Especially with these anime otaku.  That’s why I can speak and write the way I do.  I gained a lot of confidence from all those people in my past.

So if you don’t have any confidence in what you do, write, or say, then it’s time you took a good look at yourself in the mirror and say,

“Fuck it.  What’s the worst that can happen?”

These people taught me to be yourself, and that your identity is the single most important possession.  Don’t lose it.

The Ghost of Katie

Katie
Shhh! A glimpse into what I’ve done before I show the guys! Only because they’re sleeping LOL. Anyway, this is technically two concepts I have for the character Katie. I was told she was a kind of a guy’s guy, a big sister, very normal apparel wise, and very much like Jay. That’s why I gave her sweats and low top Chucks. But then I read Beau’s description of her. Yes she is like Jay and is an Otaku – but Beau saw her a little as geek chic. He had a sketch of her in a skirt – sitting on a cloud. So I gave her a skirt, poofy and a little on the J-Rock side – esp paired w/the knee-high Chucks. I can see either look working for her, but I prefer the skirt because the poofiness reminds me of a cloud. She’s supposed to be dead, so when she is not sitting on a cloud somewhere, I imagine her clothes to be a bit floaty.

I’m not in it for the money, though it would be nice :P

This is related. Seriously.

I usually lead my entries with a youtube video of some sort.  They’re relevant most of the time.  This time, it’s CRITICAL that you watch the video.   CosplayJP, I know you’re reading this too, so you better pay attention.  Go ahead, watch the video.  I’ll wait.

Did you watch it?  Good.  What did you see?  A bunny girl flying around on a sword beating up various contemporary sci-fi entities?  Good.  If you look a bit deeper you’d see just how the depth of the madness.  You see, the video was created for the 1983 Osaka Sci-Fi convention, nicknamed “Daicon IV”.  And it was created by a bunch of otaku working out of their basements and garages.  They weren’t doing it for the fame, rather, they were doing it ‘cuz they loved being an otaku.  And I’m sure that they had fun doing it.

What happened to those guys that made that video?  Did they live happily ever after?  Sort of.  They went on to form a certain animation studio.  I don’t know if you’ve heard of ’em….they’re called Studio GAINAX.

Time and time again, Studio Gainax would reference their Daicon IV video in all their subsequent works.  Hell, even Haruko yells out “DAICON V”.  On top of all this, Studio GAINAX has a reputation for being the most hospitable to the otaku, since well…they are too.

Now back to the original point of this entry.  When I first created Team Mixed Nuts 4 years ago, I had no idea what I’d be in for.  I saw the Daicon IV video and got inspired by it all.  I got even more inspired after I learned the backstory and how Studio GAINAX got formed.  Now….here I am.  Surrounded by a crack team of creative minds that refuse to do anything less than epic.  I know that if it wasn’t for them, and numerous other people, I wouldn’t be here, still working on my webmangazine.  You can’t be doing this stuff because you want to be famous.  If it’s good, that’ll come on its own.  Along with the money.

I’m working on this webmangazine because I genuinely love being a geek.  It’s fun!  And I know everyone else on the team feels the same way.

-Francis