Anime Synopsis – Inu x Boku SS

Thursday, 16 February 2012, 8:00 | Author: Ludovico
Category : Newly Released Anime

Some girls want constant attention, and some girls just want to be left alone.  Ririchiyo of the wealthy Shirakiin family is very much the latter and not at all the former.  So when she moves into an upscale condo building, she’s dismayed to find that she’s been assigned a full-time bodyguard and attendant.  Soushi is a completely loyal, selfless and thoughtful companion, but Ririchiyo wants nothing of the sort.  Now his duty becomes to convince the sullen Ririchiyo to accept his help.

Oh, and they’re both secret half-monsters!

As a character, Soushi is clearly designed to the longstanding shoujo ideals of romantic manliness.  He’s an effeminately good-looking guy with absolutely no thoughts of self-interest, no wants or desires apart from simply serving Ririchiyo.  He’s pretty shallow as a character, but as a parody of the genre, it’s pretty great.  Of course, what really turns the situation on its head is her thorough rejection of such an ‘ideal’ companion.  The yokai twist doesn’t really fundamentally change the story, but it provides just a few more story hooks on what otherwise might become a somewhat stale cast, and also offers a little more explanation for why the characters act the way they do (Soushi is actually more believable as a nine-tailed dog spirit than he would be as a human).  Where does the story goes from here?  Probably into normal shoujo territory, but with a rather unique angle.

HSotD Private Photo Shoot

Thursday, 12 January 2012, 8:00 | Author: Janet
Category : Learn about Cosplay

This page features a private photo shoot with our photographer, Brandon.  We toured the UC Davis campus looking for gloomy buildings and tall staircases.  Although we took a lot of experimental photography, the best photos are displayed below.  Which is your favorite?

HSotD Group Photo Shoot

Friday, 6 January 2012, 8:00 | Author: Janet
Category : Announcements

We had an amazing photo shoot over the holidays with Tricia “Ratgirl”, Jessie, Erin, and Pete.  We were blessed with a light rain, which provided us with a stark and overcast zombie-infested landscape.

This photo shoot was inspired by our recent Anime Con of the Dead event and wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Ratgirl Productions!   I’d also like to extend a special thanks to our photographers, Brandon and Derek, for their time and commitment.

Making Realistic Gun Props

Thursday, 29 December 2011, 8:00 | Author: Janet
Category : Learn about Cosplay

If you want to quickly and easily create a gun prop to accessorize your costume, we recommend implementing a technique called “silver leafing.”  The term “leafing” normally refers to a sheet of paper that is used to transfer metal pigments onto a solid surface by applying pressure; however, we tend to use it’s simplified counterpart “Rub n’ Buff Silver Leaf” which is a rub-on paint.  As you can see in the above picture, this technique will add dimension and distressing for an authentic-looking prop.  (Note: Silver is one of many available in the “Rub n’ Buff” collection.  For gun props, we recommend using traditional metallic colors, such as gold, bronze, or silver.)

In order to make this tutorial completely beginner-friendly, you should purchase a pre-made base for your gun.  You can usually find plastic models of guns similar to what you need, since toy manufacturers model their foam-projectile guns off of real guns.  As a starting point, be sure to check out the toy guns at Nerf, Buzz Bee, Lanard, and MacTommy.

Once you have your prop base, use the following tutorial to complete the “leafing” process:

Color Any Hard to Reach Areas
Are there any areas of your gun that you will not be leafing?  For this specific gun prop, we wanted the front of the barrel to be silver and the rest of the gun to be black.  We started by applying a coat of silver paint.
Add Painters Tape as Needed
You can protect your gun by wrapping tape around different parts that should not be painted.  In this way, you can continue to spray paint large areas without worry.
  Apply the Base Coat to Prepare for Leafing
This can be any color you choose – though we believe that matte paints will provide the best accent.  For a standard gun, black is an acceptable color choice.
  Apply “Rub ‘n Buff” Leafing
Be sure to grab a clean rag and squeeze a small drop of leafing onto it.  If the base coat is completely dry, you may begin to apply the leafing, rubbing any hard edge, raised text, engraved pattern, or random “scuffed” surface.  You really can’t over-do this effect.  However, be cautious of the transient nature of this “paint”; it doesn’t dry and it will continue to smear upon contact with any surface. Once you are satisfied with the level of distress, you may remove any tape and apply a clear-coat sealant.

(As mentioned in a previous post, when preparing gun props for a convention, you should disable the trigger and add an orange tip on the end of your barrel to distinguish your weapon as a costume prop.)

Safety Considerations for Prop Guns

Thursday, 22 December 2011, 8:00 | Author: Janet
Category : Learn about Cosplay

Within the convention environment, one of the most controversial topics is whether cosplayers should use seemingly-realistic guns as props.  In order to bring about such a large event with a high volume of pedestrian traffic, these non-profit organizations have legal and moral obligations toward the safety of the public.  To this end, convention staff set up peace bonding stations (the inspection and tagging of your prop) to enforce predetermined prop guidelines.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any universal standard between anime conventions and each convention writes their own policies.  Now, how strictly these policies are enforced depends entirely on the mood and attitude of each staff member (You will benefit from getting to know your local organizers.)  But the following list highlights some of the policies we’ve encountered:

  • The gun must be recognizable as a prop from more than 50 yards away (far enough for a police officer to tell the difference).
  • The gun must have an orange tips that marks it as a prop.
  • The firing mechanism must be disabled.

As you begin to work on your props, please remember to refer to the websites of your local conventions.  Although you may be tempted to rely upon disarmed projectile guns (BB, Airsoft, or Nerf) as a base for your prop, we’ve encountered staff that said even some Nerf models are unacceptable because of their resemblance to real guns.  If you want to more easily pass inspection, you would be better off building a prop gun from scratch.

Name that Fabric… Hound’s Tooth!

Thursday, 15 December 2011, 8:00 | Author: Kricket
Category : Learn about Cosplay

I make it a point to study fabric in anime.  It is the job of the texture artist to recreate the appearance and movement of specific textiles to smoothly integrate with the character design.  By studying and identifying animated fabric we can strive to create highly accurate cosplay costumes.  “Name that Fabric” will be a recurring subject to build your knowledge of fabric identification and aid you in making design decisions during construction.

*  *  *  *  *

I’ve seen a lot of different styles for Japanese school uniforms, but they have always used solid-color or plaid fabrics.  For the first time in my cosplay career, I noticed a very specific patterned fabric incorporated into a uniform – Houndstooth.  I wouldn’t have even noticed if Ludovico hadn’t been showing me his top recommendations for the season.  It could be easily overlooked for two reasons: 1) It’s located on the collar and thus is not the main fabric, and 2) in faraway shots where detail is less important, the artists substitute a black and white diamond pattern.  While narrowing down the type of fabric worn on a collar might be trivial to some cosplayers, I think it is important to know that this fabric is actually quite easily accessible in fabric stores in various sizes.  (Just remember, some employees may recognize the fabric by it’s appearance, while even less will know it’s true name, so bring reference materials! )

Houndstooth is most commonly found in a checkered pattern of black and white and is so named because of the symmetrical “fangs” worked into the print.  The Independent adds, “Sometimes houndstooth is called dogtooth and, when it’s smaller… puppytooth. Scottish in origin, it is named after the jagged effect that might arise from the bite of a not-so-friendly canine… The Gallic translation of houndstooth is pied-de-poule – ‘chicken foot’.”  Yet, it was in Scotland that Houndstooth first appeared in the woven wool tartan cloth of the Scottish Lowlands (Charles Tyrwhitt).  This pattern has carried into modern textiles because of it’s distinctive and complex geometic design and I have yet to come across any other textile with similar qualities.

Anime Synopsis – Guilty Crown

Thursday, 8 December 2011, 8:00 | Author: Ludovico
Category : Newly Released Anime

After a massive pandemic, Japan turned to the United Nations for assistance.  Ten years later, Japan is an occupied country, with the UN’s GHQ troops enforcing martial law.  Shu, a normal highschooler, ends up on their bad side when he stumbles upon Inori, a pop idol who’s on the run from the GHQ with a pilfered vial.  When Inori gets dragged off, the responsibility of delivering the vial falls to Shu.  He brings it to the intended recipient, a resistance leader named Gai, but GHQ troops attack before he can hand it off.  In the midst of the battle, Shu finds Inori and the vial shatters, bestowing strange powers upon him.  Without really understanding how, Shu draws a sword from Inori’s chest and takes on the GHQ mecha singlehandedly.

For as much praise as I give out in these synopses, it’s rare for me to be truly impressed by a show.  Interested?  Amused?  Sure, these happen a lot.  Truly impressed?  Not so much.  Guilty Crown is the first show I’ve reviewed here that just completely blew me away in the first three minutes.  It all begins with an exciting escape attempt by Inori from a military facility, seamlessly interjected with scenes from her music video, with sharp cinematography and a melancholic but epic tune.  It’s a very cool sequence that takes full advantage of the medium.  The rest of the episode was solid, even though the ending came completely out of nowhere (crazy body-sword powers?), and there was some blatant fan service on display with Inori’s immodest outfit.  Still, if the directorial skill evidenced in the first few minutes is any indication, I expect great things from this show.

Holiday Cosplay

Tuesday, 29 November 2011, 8:00 | Author: Janet
Category : Learn about Cosplay

Every year, a local cosplay photographer organizes the “Christmas in the Park Northern California Cosplay Gathering.”  For his meeting place, he often takes advantage of “Christmas in the Park,” a local attraction held annually in downtown San Jose.  This cosplay gathering (and others like it) have begun to attracting large numbers of cosplayers for a variety of reasons.  For some, they yearn to cosplay mid-year when there are fewer conventions.  For others, they want to re-imagine their favorite characters in holiday-themed attire. Still yet, some simply enjoy socializing at these events.

This event is rather appropriate within the context of anime fandom. Many popular shows have produced artwork of their characters dressed in santa hats and red velvet, fur-lined costumes for the Christmas season. Though I must admit, when winter comes around, I prefer to focus my cosplay photography around snowy landscapes and barren trees, rather than Christmas costumes. I almost feel like I’m violating the authenticity of the character by succumbing to these Christmas-themed fandoms.  But even with such strong opinions, I must be in the minority, because these events are growing in size every year. Perhaps this will be a new trend within the cosplay community, similar to our prediction that swimsuit costume competitions might be a huge success at summer conventions.

If you’re interested in attending, you can find more information on the forums:

You can also view the photo gallery from last year’s event:


Anime Synopsis – Persona 4: The Animation

Tuesday, 22 November 2011, 8:00 | Author: Ludovico
Category : Newly Released Anime

Yu has just moved to the rural town of Inaba, to live with his detective uncle and young cousin for the next year. It’s a dull town without much going on, until a dead body shows up hanging from a television antennae. There’s lots of mysterious phenomena happening with the televisions in this town, including a late night broadcast predicting upcoming victims. Yu soon discovers an entire world within the TV, with strange monsters and clues to the murder. Now Yu and his new friends, class clown Yosuke and tomboy Chie, are on the case to prevent the killer from striking again.

This is where I show my bias. I’m a big RPG fan and Persona 4 is my all-time favorite RPG. Now, most games have a hard time transitioning properly to anime, but Persona was largely scripted like an anime in the first place, with a manga adaptation already released (and soon a play too!) so the transition should go much easier. Behind all the dungeon-exploring and monster-killing of the game, there’s a solid story here about identity issues and inner growth, with a reasonably compelling supernatural murder mystery and enjoyable characters (though whether the writers can properly handle the bi-curious Kanji is a big question). The major risk that the show takes is just being too accurate. Even in the first episode, it’s clear that Yu was a silent protagonist in the game, and has brought very little personality to the show. Additionally, the game has several side stories that really don’t add much to the main narrative and risk derailing the story (I really don’t need to watch an episode about Tower or Temperance). I expect Persona 4 will be a somewhat flawed product, but I enjoy the source material enough that I don’t have any hesitation in recommending it anyways.

Anime Synopsis – Mirai Nikki

Thursday, 17 November 2011, 8:00 | Author: Ludovico
Category : Newly Released Anime

Yukiteru Amano is a young man who shuts himself off from reality, escaping to the pages of his observational diary as well as to his own imaginary land where the God of Time and Space resides.  It’s an isolated lifestyle, but Yuki is alright with it, until the god proves himself to be quite real after all, gifting Yuki with a incredibly upgrade to his diary that lets him foresee the future.  Yuki is ready to take full advantage of this strange new power, but things aren’t ever so simple.  There’s eleven other people with their own time diaries and the God of Time and Space has started a sinister game, wherein all the diary owners must fight to the death for the right to ascend to godhood.  Now Yuki’s life is resting on his own ingenuity to make the best use of his future-sight, as well as on the support of Yuno, a possibly insane girl from his class with her own time diary.

Mirai Nikki offers a complicated conundrum.  There are some fundamental similarities to shows like Death Note and Eden of the East, but there’s also a key weakness here that the other shows don’t share.  There’s no real question how this is going to end, because Yuki is clearly being set up as the winner and the rules are non-ambiguous, making the ten opponents seem somewhat like time-filler.  The only complication is his classmate, Yuno.  Like in Battle Royale, we’ve been handed two primary protagonists with the ultimatum that only one will live.  How Mirai Nikki deals with this aspect of the story will likely be the criteria on which it is ultimately judged, but until then it still has an interesting premise and the potential for some good mind games and clever trickery.  The time diaries are a clever concept.  Let’s just hope that the writers make full use of them.