Ramen & Rice

Thursday, 11 March 2010, 10:00 | Author: Janet
Category : Cosplay Excellence

This musical duo has acquired the name Ramen and Rice, referring to the basic form of sustenance in Japan.  In many ways, they have become an important form of entertainment for FanimeCon attendees.  These young women have mastered the cello and violin in their recreation of musical scores from anime shows and video games (e.g. Neon Genesis Evangelion, Full Metal Alchemist, Naruto, Final Fantasy, Legend of Zelda, Kingdom Hearts, and Super Smash Brothers).  For many convention attendees, their music has been the highlight of the convention; crowds would gather in the hallways until convention officials started worrying about fire hazards and city regulations. They would collect generous donations from their audiences and travel to various conventions across the United States.

Ramen and Rice made their first appearance at FanimeCon 2000.  They would sit outside the convention center, when the lines to the dealer’s room were literally out the door, and play for a captive audience. Even though Ramen and Rice made annual appearances at FanimeCon, it wasn’t always possible to find them.  Their location and performance schedule would change every year.

Within five years of their first appearance, they were invited to perform a live concert at FanimeCon.  Since that momentous event, I have not heard them playing in the hallways of FanimeCon.  They have moved onto bigger events and larger shows, but they will always be remembered as dedicated anime fans.

You can watch some of their performances at: http://ramenandrice.metaminstrel.net/

Katie Bair

Thursday, 4 March 2010, 10:00 | Author: Janet
Category : Cosplay Excellence

This week reveals another professional cosplayer named Katie Bair.  Although I have never had the opportunity to see her cosplay outfits, she is revered within the cosplay community.  She has invested herself in a diverse range of businesses, including cosplay wigs, ball-jointed dolls, and manga books, effectively creating a niche for herself as a successful cosplay entrepreneur.  [These products are available online at katiebair.com.]

Her business model, similar to other cosplay franchises, depends upon specialization.  For Katie Bair, that happens to be cosplay wigs.  Although her cosplay career began as a hobby, she is now the most sought-after cosplay wig specialist.  Through her website, pettingzoowigs.com, she is often booked months in advance for commission work and her wigs usually sell for $50 to $400 dollars.

I am a little surprised that I have only seen Katie Bair at the local SacAnime convention.  Although It is a relatively small convention, she attends every year to teach the art of cosplay to the local community.  During one of her presentations, she revealed a hand-crafted staff made with styrene sheets, fiberglass, and an LED flashlight.  It was astonishing to see what this young woman can accomplish!

Her current endeavors include writing a cosplay book, The World of Wigcraft, of which I have already ordered a copy.  Although this book will illuminate the process of handling and styling wigs, I would also be excited to learn her techniques for costume and prop construction..  For I know that of her many talents, wig crafting is but one of many.

Pikmin Link

Thursday, 25 February 2010, 14:00 | Author: Janet
Category : Cosplay Excellence

My first cosplay snapshot reveals an avid cosplayer by the name of “Pikmin Link.”  This woman has cosplayed for over twelve years and works as a professional cosplay modeler.  She has been featured in several magazines (i.e. Nintendo Power and Cosplaymix) sporting a variety of cosplay costumes; however, she is most recognized for her Legend of Zelda costume collection.

Pikmin Link’s costumes are meticulously professional.  From her majestic props to her suede fabric and lithe body, this cosplayer knows costumes. Pikmin Link has attended conventions in three different countries as a special guest and as such, she is a prominent U.S. cosplayer.

To support her cosplay career, her father works as a professional photographer, traveling to conventions and offering photoshoots.  I have also heard that he assists Pikmin Link with her prop building—in her defense, my dad provides me with the same service.  Nevertheless, Pikmin Link has utilized her social capital to become one of the most famous cosplayers in the industry.

Although Pikmin Link and I have spoken before, I’m not sure that she would remember me.  I am a proficient cosplayer, but (admittedly) a little intimidated by her serious demeanor.  I would love to sit down with her and learn about her costuming techniques; she is dedicated to cosplay excellence and she knows what it takes to be a professional cosplayer.

Snapshots of Cosplay Excellence

Thursday, 25 February 2010, 12:00 | Author: Janet
Category : Cosplay Excellence

Starting this week, I am going to introduce you to prominent Bay Area convention attendees, ranging from professional to blatantly silly. Each person (or group) features a specific trait that has made an impression on me. I will discuss these cosplayers’ strengths and weaknesses to better understand the meaning of excellence within the cosplay community.

It is possible to become a well-known cosplayer within your own local conventions, but the first step is to get involved.  Whether you want to design the next outrageous costume, compete in masquerade contests, or volunteer at a convention, there are many opportunities to meet and learn from enthusiastic cosplayers.

Anime Synopsis: Sora no Woto

Thursday, 11 February 2010, 10:00 | Author: Ludovico
Category : Newly Released Anime

English Title: Sound of the Sky

Kanata has a keen ear for musical notes but no skill or talent for actually playing instruments, so she joined the military as a bugler in order to learn to play. Now she has been assigned to the remote village Seize, defended solely by a small all-female squad in keeping with local legend. Unprofessionally, she manages to get repeatedly distracted along the way, first getting caught up in a messy traditional festival and then chasing down a lost bell for a new friend, Rio. Finally, she meets up with her squad, discovers that Rio is her superior officer, and enthusiastically begins her new life stationed at the Time-Telling Fortress of Seize.

Sora no Woto is the latest show to capitalize on the recent moe trend in anime, focusing more on its adorable characters than an intricate plot or compelling world. Now, a little light entertainment isn’t all bad, and Sora no Woto does put in the effort to create a charming setting for its moe escapades, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that the show is fundamentally shallow. Most at fault is the main girl Kanata who, despite being a professional soldier and bugler, is completely inept at both roles because a true professional soldier would be significantly less adorable. The entire military theme is somewhat bizarre when the entire squad is carefree teenage girls, with not a single grizzled veteran in sight after the opening minutes. Nonetheless, the show does have a significant amount of charm, but it’s treading a fine line between delightful and insufferable. Over the rest of the season it could easily go in either direction, but for now it’s a decent show when you’re looking for something a bit more lighthearted and relaxed.

Anime Synopsis: Durarara!!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010, 10:00 | Author: Ludovico
Category : Newly Released Anime

Mikado has just transferred from a small village to a new school in Tokyo, rejoining his old friend Masaomi. Mikado is a little wary of all the unsavory tales he’s heard, so Masaomi takes him on a tour of the city where he encounters a number of strange and interesting characters. Meanwhile, a group of lowlifes kidnap a girl off the street, but find themselves relentlessly hunted down by a dark being of judgment, the headless rider of the black motorcycle.

The first episode of Durarara!! doesn’t actually have much happening in it. Instead it seems to be busy setting the stage for things to come. It’s a solid foundation though, with a number of interesting personalities and potential plot hooks. The show strikes a good balance between the wide-eyed innocence of Mikado and the dark mood and undertones of the city, and it’s a safe bet that the story is going to become darker as time goes on. Meanwhile the headless rider itself is a clear homage to the headless horseman of Sleepy Hollow, but also has much in common with Batman as a dark avenger of the night. It’s difficult to predict how all the various plot threads and myriad characters are going to come together into a coherent story, but, but with the quality art and solid writing so far, there’s plenty of reasons to stick around and find out.

Anime Synopsis: Baka to Test to Shokanju

Thursday, 4 February 2010, 10:30 | Author: Ludovico
Category : Newly Released Anime

English Title: Idiots and Tests and Summoned Beings

At Fumizuki Academy, all students are placed in a hierarchical system based on their grades. The best-scoring students attend the luxurious class 2-A, while the worst students spend their time in 2-F, a rundown room full of broken furniture and low expectations. The only way the students can progress upward through this harsh caste system is by defeating other classes using holographic battle avatars powered by their test scores. When Yoshii and his friends fail their initial placement test and find themselves at the bottom of the social ladder, they decide to battle their way straight up to 2-A!

Baka to Test to Shokanju is not a great show by practically any definition. The entire concept of students taking tests in order to empower chibi holograms and fight for better teaching conditions surely ranks among the most nonsensical premises ever concocted for television. Luckily, the show recognizes this fact, and indeed revels in the silliness of it all. Its strength is certainly not in its plot, but in the amusing concept and constant gags. Add in an interesting visual style (you’ve never seen so many polka dots) and some overly dramatic warfare between the classes, and you get a show that’s fundamentally entertaining despite its narrative flaws.

Winter 2009 Anime Recommendations

Thursday, 4 February 2010, 10:00 | Author: Ludovico
Category : Newly Released Anime

As we ring in this new decade, we are busy keeping an eye on anime trends, which includes sampling all the new anime released this January. We’ve delighted in the good and suffered through the bad to bring you this list of new shows to keep an eye on. Each mini-review highlights one of our top recommendations for this season, based on the first episode of the series. We can’t predict how the full series will turn out, but we’ll summarize the episode and analyze the good and bad points of each show.

What you can expect to see listed here: new quality shows of any genre, so long as they have high production values, interesting premises and enjoyable stories. What you generally won’t find here: the latest oversexed harem show, sappy shoujo fluff, or combat-oriented shonen.

Check these anime out! You shouldn’t be disappointed!

Imitating Anime Eyes

Thursday, 21 January 2010, 15:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

In an effort expand my knowledge of makeup, I have been reading How to Cosplay: Transformation and Special Effects Makeup.  Although this book has beautiful pictures, I hesitate to recommend it simply because it was written for Japanese audiences and tends to only address Asian physical characteristics.  Yet there is one technique, in particular, that is relevant to the entire cosplay population:  The appearance of anime eyes.

Graphic-sha’s makeup technique immediately caught my attention, as I’m sure it has caught yours.  Their book addresses an important, but often ignored, physical attribute of anime characters: their elongated eyes.  By penciling an extension of the iris and conjunctiva and applying some fake eyelashes, the cosplayer has attempted to enlarge the human eye.  Such an extreme modification is best admired from afar (otherwise you will still be able to see the cosplayer’s natural eyelashes), but could be effectively utilized in photo shoots and masquerade.

Similarly, Michelle Phan’s tutorial on “anime eyes” teaches a subtle technique for enlarging human eyes.  This technique is most applicable for interactive cosplay situations.   Although both techniques require white eyeliner and fake eyelashes, it is up to you to decide which technique will best compliment your cosplay style.

Welcome to a New You

Monday, 18 January 2010, 15:19 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

2010 New Year’s Resolution:  Overcome the Imperfections of the Human Body.

The new year offers us a time of change and I have decided that this year I want to become an alien.  In light of the new Avatar movie, I would like to declare this the Year of the Blue Alien.  Just consider the cosplay possibilities:  Shiva (Final Fantasy), Zelgadis (Slayers), Gunther (KKM), Mystique (X-Men), Captain Planet (Captain Planet).  I’m already planning my own blue alien cosplay for this year’s Fanime (the specifics of which I will wait to reveal) even though I’m having trouble assembling a willing cosplay group, which saddens me.

My plans continue (nevertheless) and I still have to solve my most difficult dilemma:  I don’t have blue skin.  Although I have previously cosplayed blue-skinned anime characters using generic creme makeup from Halloween stores, it has provided me with frustrating results.  With creme makeup, I cannot touch my face and it always, inevitably, rubs off onto my costume.  The only alternative I have discovered is to apply make-up with an airbrush, which is actually one of the most effective forms of makeup application.  The application of paint using an airbrush allows the makeup to stay on longer, resist smudging, and appear flawless.  ?

I recently purchased an Iwata airbrush as well as makeup from Ben Nye, a renowned theatrical makeup company.  Ben Nye provides a variety of products for airbrushing, including MagiColor Liquid Paint, Final Seal makeup sealer and Hydra Cleanse makeup remover.  I will be experimenting with these items during the upcoming months and I will upload pictures of my progress.  Should you attempt airbrushing at home, you must understand there are risks involved.  You should only select paints and airbrush tools intended for human use and you should protect your eyes, mouth, and nose during facial applications.

Now go enjoy the transformation!