Song of the Day: That’s My Job (by Conway Twitty)

I know that generally speaking, Song of the Day isn’t a category that I post in, but I hope you’ll all indulge me this once.

A lot of people these days might recognize Conway Twitty from various cutaway gags in the TV show Family Guy, but for me, it goes back to my childhood.  Watching Hee-Haw with my dad, riding in the car with my dad, waking up in the morning to dad playing Conway and other old country western music stars while he exercised before work.  While my musical tastes would always skew more towards rock and alternative, I will always link music like Conway’s to my dad.

This past Friday, I lost my dad, Donald Boucher, after several long years fighting cancer.  Like any father and son, we had our disagreements, but we always knew that we loved each other.  I moved halfway across the country away from my parents, so I’d make sure that every Sunday I’d call him, even if I had spoken to him on Saturday, so today especially felt extra hollow since I knew he wouldn’t be there to pick up the phone anymore.

This song especially gives words to my feelings better than I feel I’m capable, so I’ll let Conway take it from here.  I know that wherever dad is now, he’ll get to be listening to Conway, Hank Williams Sr, Jim Reeves, and all the others that he loved listening to while I was growing up.  I’ll miss you dad.

That’s My Job

I woke up cryin’ late at night – when I was very young
I had dreamed my father – had passed away and gone
My world revolved around him – I couldn’t lie there anymore
So I made my way down the mirrored hall and tapped upon his door.

And I said, “Daddy, I’m so afraid!
How would I go on, with you gone that way?
Don’t wanna cry anymore
So may I stay with you?”

And he said,
“That’s my job, that’s what I do
Everything I do is because of you
To keep you safe with me …
That’s my job, you see.”

Later we barely got along – this teenage boy and he
Most of the fights it seems – were over different dreams
We each held for me …
He wanted knowledge and learning – I wanted to fly out west
“Said I could make it out there – if I just had the fare
I got half, will you loan me the rest?”

And I said, “Daddy, I’m so afraid
There’s no guarantee in the plans I’ve made
And if I should fail, who will pay my way back home?”

And he said,
“That’s my job, that’s what I do
Ev’rything I do is because of you
To keep you safe with me …
That’s my job, you see.”

Every person carves his spot – and fills the hole with life
And I pray someday I might – light as bright as he.

Woke up early one bright fall day – read the tragic news
After all my travels, I settled down – within a mile or two
I make my livin’ with words and rhymes – and all the tragedies
Should go into my head and out instead – as bits of poetry.

But I say, “Daddy I’m so afraid
How will I go on – with you gone this way
How can I come up – with a song to say, “I love you.”

“That’s my job, that’s what I do
Ev’rything I do is because of you
To keep you safe with me …
That’s my job, you see.”

“Ev’rything I do is because of you
To keep you safe with me …
That’s my job, you see.”

Anime You Should Be Watching: Zombie Land Saga

I’m finally home, and with the final season of anime for 2018 finished, it’s about time to give my recommendation for one of the most surprising shows of the year.  The reason that I think this was such a surprise is because it takes what’s been a pretty stale genre, the idol anime, and given it such life (pun intended) that it really stands out.  Frankly, 2018 was possibly the best year we’ve seen in anime in over a decade.  Titles such as A Place Further Than the Universe, Hinamatsuri, Megalobox, Laid-back Camp among many others were such outstanding offerings that if you didn’t find something to enjoy this past year, then you just plain don’t like anime anymore.  But there’s been so many mediocre idol anime since Love Live lit up the charts that I was convinced that the genre was dead (more puns!).  But Zombie Land Saga came around and proved that there still can be good, compelling stories told about idols.

The basic premise of the show is that the producer makes an idol group by reanimating the corpses of some famous and no so famous idols and idol wannabes from the past.  He says that it’s to help revitalize the Japanese prefecture of Saga (It’s an actual prefecture and it works to make the title sound epic.  Will the puns never end?) and while that might be part of his goal, other reasons are revealed throughout the course of the show.

Each of the girls is considered a legend, but none are more legendary than the most legendary of legends, Tae Yamada.  Sure, nothing about her past is revealed in the show, and she’s the only girl who never actually “awakens” and remains in classical zombie state, but she is clearly the top idol in the whole group, even though the protagonist is technically Sakura, and the leader, or center, of the group is Saki.  Still, with her voice actress being Kotono Mitsuishi, who is eternally famous for being the voice of Sailor Moon, among many other prominent roles from the 90’s, Tae is definitely worthy of being called a legend.

The main thing that I think is great about this show is the fact that it’s an anime original.  Unlike most anime these days, it isn’t an adaptation of an existing manga, light novel, or video game.  The anime came up with its own ideas, and while there is in fact a manga adaptation, it came out after the fact.  This is rare, and it’s very refreshing to see, because a lot of anime that comes out these days are essentially advertisements for their source material.  Wanna know what happens next?  Read the manga/light novel or play the game!  That said, thankfully this anime has apparently done very well, because it ends with a big cliffhanger.  As one would expect, since these girls were legends in their own time, it was only a matter of time before someone recognized them from their past lives, and the final episode ends with a reporter putting two and two together.  Based on sales of the video, I think it’s safe to say there will be a second season that further explores this, and I’m personally looking forward to it.

Now I’ll leave you all with one of the moments from the show that made me look forward to it week after week, the epic rap battle between protagonist Sakura and the group leader Saki.

Anime You Should Be Watching: Asobi Asobase

Greetings all, as the supposed resident anime expert here at TSL, I’ve let a lot slip through the cracks due to crazy amounts of laziness, and let’s face it, a certain amount of sobriety.  Was I not drunk enough?  Was I too drunk?  We’ll leave that up to your imagination.  What shouldn’t be left in the realm of uncertainty is how great Asobi Asobase is.

To start with, this show looks like your standard, boring, slice of life that any anime fan worth their salt has seen a million times, right?  Oh, that’s just what these devious devils want you to think!  In fact, if you watch the opening sequence, that’s exactly what you’re supposed to think.

I’ll admit, I don’t know very much Japanese.  Just enough to get me into, and sometimes out of trouble.  But from what I can tell, that OP is nothing but innocence and typical SOL sugary goodness.  So you go into this anime expecting that, and somewhere in the first episode, like 10 minutes in, you’re in for a rude awakening.  Sure, this starts off as all sweet, sugary high school life of “Oh hey, let’s start an after school club!” But it quickly forgets whatever premise it ever had and completely devolves into “Let’s make these girls as effed up as we possibly can!”  I’d tell you the premise of this anime, but it seriously has no premise.  It’s hilarity done strictly for the sake of hilarity.  You’d still like some kind of starting point you say?  Ok, here’s the premise they initially start us with.  Hanako is a bored rich girl who wants to form a club to play games.  Kasumi is a girl who is terrible at English, whose sister always beat the crap out of her at games without mercy and has a complex about that.  Olivia is a girl who looks like a foreigner (something strange and mysterious to Japanese apparently) yet was born and raised in Japan and doesn’t know a lick of English.  Kasumi joins the club because she expects Olivia to tutor her in English.  Olivia joins because she thinks she can fool Kasumi, and also because she thinks Hanako is an idiot and likes making fun of her.  Hanako turns out to be the smartest member of the club.  Absolutely none of that matters past episode 2.  Hanako is borderline genius, Olivia gets exposed, Kasumi, well she’s got a lot more going on that just being poor at English.

As we watch further into the show, we get hit with full on craziness. How crazy could it be might you ask?  Well, one of the more normal segments revolves around Hanako’s butler? Maeda revealing that prior to joining her household he was a homeless man who was abducted by aliens and anal probed with a laser device inserted into him.  Yes, he shoots lasers out of his ass.  And it’s viewed as totally normal.

And I did say that was one of the tamer scenes, yes?  I’d be remiss if I didn’t share with you one of my favorite scenes I’ve seen so far.  If you need some sort of setup, I guess I’ll give it to you.  Essentially the girls are forced to sneak into the office of the student council president by someone who may or may not be a guy pretending to be a girl (totally is, no question about it) and they have to steal a certain file that contains information that this guy would rather not get out into the open, even though most of it is about the three girls in question.  Anyways, this is the penultimate scene.

This is the kind of humor you’re in for with this show.  If you didn’t find that hilarious, then this show isn’t for you.  I’m not judging (I’m totally judging) but that’s OK.

Finally, I gotta say, the ending theme to this is probably the best ED I’ve ever seen in an anime.  Ever.  But definitely for this season.  First off, I’ll share with you the ending theme that we get to see after each episode.

Totally different theme from the OP, right?  I think it’s great how they go from a sugary sweet opening theme to this total metalcore ending.  Gives the right balance between what you expect from the description, and what you actually get from the show.  I should mention that both the OP and ED are sung by the main three girls on the show.  Also, I really want to share with you all the full version of that song since I feel they really do a fantastic job of it.

To me, the amazing part is that none of the three main actresses, Hina Kino (Hanako), Konomi Kohara (Kasumi), Rika Nagae (Olivia) have ever really starred as the main voices in any show prior to this, yet they really come across to me as veterans in the industry.  Just the way they interact with each other and totally own their roles is something you’d only expect from long time veterans.  These are girls that I think we’ll be hearing a lot from the in the future in the anime business.

This offering from Rin Suzukawa is easily the best comedy I’ve ever had to recommend on this site.

Ultimately, this is a show that is much greater than anything anyone could say about it.  Comedy is super subjective, but if you don’t find this funny at least 80% of the time, it’s time to  play some Operation and have your funny bone checked.

Anime you should be watching: Hinamatsuri

I know, I know, I say I’m gonna start posting a lot, but seeing as it’s been a year and a half since I’ve posted, I won’t blow smoke up your keester.  I don’t post often, and I may not post for awhile again.  But the spring anime season has brought us such a gem of an anime that I absolutely cannot let anyone not know about it.  This rare masterpiece that I’m referring to is Hinamatsuri.

The basic premise of Hinamatsuri is this.  An alien girl, or possibly psychic girl from the future, who really knows?  Anyways, she shows up in a pod in the apartment of a fairly high ranking Yakuza member (the Japanese version of the Mafia).  She essentially blackmails him into letting her stay with him because he loves his expensive vases, and she can smash them with just a thought.  But that’s just scratching the surface.

When I first started watching this show, I did love it, but I felt that its namesake, Hina, was the worst person in the whole show.  I mean, you have Hitomi (see picture above) who is the pushover type.  She can’t say no or make a compelling argument in her defense, so she essentially gets used by everyone.  But, she’s so good at what she does that even though she’s being used, she winds up being the most successful 9th grader in the world.  Soon she’s the 9th grader that CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are desperate to hire.  All the while, she wants nothing more than to be a normal middle school girl.

Then you have Anzu.  Oh for the love of kittens, there’s Anzu.  She initially shows up as a rival for Hina, but Hina shows that she’s much more powerful than Anzu and immediately puts her in her place.  Anzu plans to go back to wherever they’re from, but her transportation pod is irreparably damaged.  Initially she realizes that shes much stronger than mere humans, but she is such a good girl that she doesn’t try to take advantage of it.  She winds up homeless, and then many tugs to the heartstrings are made.  Eventually everyone is left with the only conclusion, ANZU IS A GOOD GIRL.

Ultimately, it’s very hard to talk about this show and not spoil much.  Is this a comedy?  Yes.  Is this a slice of life?  Yes.  Is this a drama?  Yes.  Essentially, this is a show that’s greater than the sum of its parts.  Even the one shot throw away episode with Mao was entertaining and tugged at the heartstrings.  Very rarely will I honestly say that an anime is perfect, but Hinamatsuri is that rare show where everything works and brings you the most entertainment you will ever find in this medium.

Congrats to the Super Bowl Champion LI New England Patriots!

Around here, we celebrate the championships of the teams that us editors are super stoked about.  Anyone that has been following this blog for more than 1 year knows that I’ve been a New England Patriots fan since 1985.  So, now that the New England Patriots have won the first Super Bowl to ever go into overtime, and also have won the Super Bowl from the biggest deficit, 25 points, I, pantsukudasai56, aka Zachary Boucher, can yell and scream and enjoy all this, and there’s one thing I have to post.  I don’t know whether or not this has ever been our song of the day, but if I had to say a song that should be played all I can think is that we should all be listening to Pantera’s Walk.

To all the haters out there, RE-SPECT, WALK.   Walk on home boy.  You don’t have to like them, but you have to respect them.  The Drive for 5 is over, the New England Patriots are the greatest football team ever, and Tom Brady is better than Joe Montana.  Sorry Arleigh, it’s true.

Anime You Should Be Watching: Gate

I don’t know about anyone else, but when I was a kid, teen, young adult, and now older adult, I’d often fantasize about being able to go back in time with a modern military and just be some kind of unstoppable juggernaut.  Imagine bringing a machine gun to the Revolutionary War, or even a trained sniper squad capable of picking off the enemy generals the minute they peeked their heads out of a door.  Well, what if a portal appeared in the middle of New York City and out poured an army, comprised of fantasy blend medieval times soldiers (orcs and dragons along with humans, but only armed with swords and shields and bows and arrows)?  No doubt there would be a good amount of civilian deaths in the first chaotic moments, but when the national guard would be mobilized, there’s little doubt that it would be a complete rout.  This is more or less the idea behind Gate, which came out in the later half of 2015.

gateThis is very much a “wouldn’t it be cool if…” sort of anime.  You just need look no further than the protagonist, Yoji Itami.  Our first encounter with him makes us believe that he’s your average, everyday otaku, in Ginza for a doujinshi event when the portal opens and the army from another world appears.  But he’s obviously more than your average otaku, because while everyone else is panicking, he more or less takes control and directs the civilians on where to go and tells the police pretty much how to do their jobs, even going so far as to kill one of the enemy soldiers in hand to hand combat.  We soon find out that he is an JSDF officer (Japan Self Defense Force, think National Guard because Japan hasn’t technically been allowed to have a military since WWII) and through the course of the show we find out that not only is this slacker a soldier, but he’s also gone through Ranger and Special Forces training.

Japan sends approximately a brigade sized force through the gate to the other side, where they set up their base.  Naturally, the native forces do not fully comprehend just how much a disadvantage they’re at until the Battle of Arnus Hill.

Following this slaughter, Japan proceeds to set up shop, and because they’re Japan and not the US, Russia, or China (these three nations are also shown here, as less than noble as one would expect from a show made in Japan) instead of moving to conquer the region, they strive to win the hearts and minds of the populace and seek a peaceful solution to the situation that the Empire has brought upon itself.  Needless to say, the Empire doesn’t exactly want to admit they’re beat and it takes many more displays of overwhelming might before they realize that they’ve made an enemy of a force that they just can’t win against.

Now, this would hardly be a “Wouldn’t it be cool if…” scenario unless the main guy was fawned over by half the females in the land, and sure enough he gets his harem in short order.  First him and his squad rescue an elf girl, Tuka Luna Marceau, whose village was wiped out by a Fire Dragon.  Immediately after he meets up with a young female mage, Lelei La Lelena, and then an immortal female demigod of war, Rory Mercury, who happens to have essentially stopped aging at the age of 16 or so.  She also seems to be the favorite girl for people to cosplay as, possibly because of her affinity to dress in gothic lolita clothes, and also because she’s just plain badass.  Later on his harem adds a dark elf and even a princess from the Empire, in addition to many lesser characters who are more than happy to fawn over him.  For the most part, while he’s not unaware of their interest in him, he is fairly ambivalent towards  their affections.

What really makes this show tick though is that while yes, it kind of is a love letter to the JSDF, and its primary purpose is to show off all manner of military hardware, there’s also a lot of political machinations going on behind the scenes.  A lot of it is showing how the Japanese bureaucracy can make even simple decisions take far longer than it should, although that is a problem with any sort of government really.  But it also shows how the rest of the major powers in the world, in this case the US, Russia, and China, would react if a country like Japan were to come across a vast, untapped resource like this world that can easily be dominated with our modern military might.  They were all too happy to let Japan test the waters and cross the gate first, but once it was found out that they were fighting bows and arrows with Abrams and Cobras, they too wanted to try and get a piece of the action.  The show is 75% military and 25% political, which gives it plenty of action, with some intellectual maneuvering thrown in to keep it all interesting.

Even though I enjoyed quite a bit of it, it does still have its faults.  Like 90% of all anime produced these days, it does suffer from the lack of a real ending.  It’s based on an ongoing series of light novels written by Takumi Yanai, so the ending is basically “Do you want to see more?  Maybe we’ll have another season, but otherwise go read the light novels!”  I’ve long come to accept that this is the way of the industry, but it still leaves you feeling unsatisfied.  Many of the plot threads that were left unresolved probably are being wrapped up as the light novels are written, but that doesn’t really help with the anime, which just kinda swept them under the rug and hoped you forgot about them.  There are also a few scenes that could very well creep some people out, most notably where a 12 year old noble girl becomes infatuated with one of the Japanese diplomats, and during the civil war in order to save her, he announces that she is his fiance, then continues to announce that he fully plans to marry her when she turns 16 (the age at which girls can marry without restriction in Japan).  It’s not being forced on her since she had long been saying she wanted to marry him, but it still reeks too much of otaku wish fulfillment and trying to appease the lolicon crowd.  I don’t have a huge problem with it since it’s all fictional, but it just seemed a bit unnecessary to me, and the story could have advanced just as easily if she were already of age.  It also tends to over glamorize the Japanese SDF, making them out to be nothing but the most humane people in the world.  Well, except when they’re slaughtering their enemies.  It’s kind of understandable, since Yanai is a former JSDF member, but it still kind of comes off as ignoring the faults of any military organization and making them out to be infallible knights of justice.

Still, at the end of the day, it left me wanting to watch more.  The likelihood of more anime being produced is probably low, while it did get a 24 episode run, the disc sales were decent but not stellar.  Unless it’s determined that the light novel sales could be boosted by another season, I don’t expect to get to see more of this in animated form.  Which is a shame, because it deserves a proper ending to one of the more interesting shows to come out in recent years.

Anime of the Year:2016

I gotta admit, of everyone here, I am definitely the guiding light when it comes to anime.  This doesn’t mean that I watch everything and my word is gospel (Ok, my word is always gospel, because I said so) but I do watch a decent amount of every year’s offerings, in the realm of 1/4 to 1/2 of everything that’s been released (but since there’s been 180 titles released this year alone, and I can manage to watch at the most 20 shows a season if I’m super diligent, which anyone here will admit I’m not) the best I can do is 80 shows.  So it’s always possible that something has fallen through the cracks.  But, I like to believe that I have a good finger on the pulse of things that are good.  Hence, while I’ve long heard the cry for Re:Zerorem-x-ramHonestly, I hated the protagonist to death (anyone that’s watched the show sees what I did there) and I cannot in good faith pick that show as my favorite for the year.  But if not this show, then whom?  Yes, there have been multiple shows that are worthy of a high ranking.

Could I have gone with another highly rated show, Erased?

erasedWell, since I’ve brought it up right now, everyone should know that no, this isn’t my top show.  But, let me say that it was high on my list.  The thing about anime is that shows that appear in the fall and winter seasons tend to be much more highly ranked because they are much more recent in the otaku consciousness.  The fact that a show like Erased, which premiered in the winter of 2016, has managed to keep itself in my otaku brain, speaks volumes for it.  However, as much as I loved this show, it still is not #1 for the year in my expert mind.

Frankly, I could lead you, the viewer, on through many, many more shows, and honestly you’d be better off knowing about them, but really, that’s just not my style.  The last two shows I told you about are ones that I felt everyone reading this blog should experience, whether you’re a fan of anime or not.  Anime fans will have watched all these shows and then some, because that’s what us otaku do.  But for the otaku crowd, who may or may not have been reading this far to see what I think is the creme de la creme, my vote goes, without a doubt, to KonoSuba, or as it’s known in its full name, as Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku o!

konosubaSee, the thing about this show is, it has everything that a proper otaku loves, and it knows it.  It’s a complete parody of the whole “Loser otaku gets transported to a fantasy world and manages to kick ass while he’s there” trope, but it still manages to play it off and make it fun.  Totally different from Re:Zero, where the protagonist is flawed, to the point you hate his guts and want him dead.  In KonoSuba, the protagonist is certainly flawed, but in a way that’s completely believable, yet hilarious.  While with Re:Zero, naturally you can look at the situation and agree that, yes, if you or I were put in that situation, we’d likely behave in a very similar way, Konosuba instead says “To hell with realism, isn’t this how you’d want to act?”  And the thing is, the vast majority of us don’t want actual realism in our anime.  We want escapist fantasy.  KonoSuba gives us that in spades.  It’s a total parody of the whole “loser dropped into the fantasy world” premise that so many of us desire, without getting into the more realistic aspects that Re:Zero provides, like the fact that the loser dropped into the fantasy setting will remain a loser.

Again, let me tell you, this list is completely subjective.  If you follow my god-like opinions, then KonoSuba is the obvious choice for Anime of the Year in 2016.  However, if you’re a heretic, and would rather listen to the words that the godless believers would spout, then by all means, check out Re:Zero.  It’s probably better than I plan on listing it, because I cannot stand the kind of protagonist they give us, but maybe you, the readers, have a lot more tolerance than I do.

Convention Report: Kawaii Kon 2016

DSC_0174This is a delayed live report from Kawaii Kon in Honolulu, Hawaii! (As in I’m writing this several days after I’ve returned from said convention, because I don’t get paid to travel to conventions and report live)  This is the first time that I, pantsukudasai56, and by extention Through the Shattered Lens, has been to this convention, so what you’re getting here are my completely initial reactions to this convention.  This is actually a big deal, because first impressions really are everything.  The first time I went to Anime Expo was in 2005, and today I’d probably have to be paid to go back again because it’s too crowded.  My first Anime Boston was in 2006, and again, currently I’d have to be paid to go back because of the hostile environment the city of Boston has fostered towards the convention.  But, in both those cases, I went to their conventions much longer than I normally would have because I had such a great time initially.  Did Kawaii Kon give me the same impression?  Well, I’ll save you a lot of reading and tell you straight up now, yes, yes it did.  Oh sure, I know you’re thinking that after flying myself out from the east coast of the United States that I’d force myself to enjoy my time after spending 13 hours on a plane, and you might not be terribly off course for thinking such.  However, let me tell you something straight up.  Since I was staying in Honolulu, and more accurately a mere mile away from the famous Waikiki Beach, if I wasn’t enjoying myself I’d have had no problem turning my convention vacation into a regular tourist vacation.  The fact is, I never once made it down to the beach, because Kawaii Kon knows what it’s doing, and after 12 years, they’re doing it well.

First, let’s get one thing out of the way.  When I go to conventions, in almost every case, save for a certain semi-local convention, I go to see Japanese guests.  Generally speaking, the larger, and especially the larger west coast conventions are the ones that attract the most Japanese talent.  The king of this is Anime Expo, mainly because they have the money and the attendance figures to drive this.  However, the #2 convention for attracting Japanese guests this year so far has been Kawaii Kon with an astounding 10 out of 24 guests being from the Japanese side.  Why is this so amazing, you might ask?  Well, to put it in perspective, Kawaii Kon had an attendance of 11,597 unique attendees.  Compare this with larger cons like Anime Boston which had 26,975, and Sakura Con, which has yet to announce 2016 numbers, but had 23,419 in 2015, and both those cons only had about the same number of total guests, and less Japanese guests, with over twice the attendance numbers, and you can see that Kawaii Kon makes more of their budget than any other convention out there.  Even big name conventions like Otakon barely surpass the guest list.

But sure, guest lists don’t mean anything if they’re a bunch of no name people, right?  Well, for those who follow anime, there definitely were some Who’s Who type of names coming to this convention.  The biggest name I’d drop is Toshio Maeda.  He’s well known as the Father of Tentacles, what with him being the creator of La Blue Girl, and most famously, Urotsukidoji.  If anyone reading this has ever watched a tentacle porn hentai, then Mr. Maeda is the man you want to thank.  And not only is he awesome for creating one of my most favorite genre, but he’s also super thankful towards his fans, to the point that he’s quite happy to come and take a picture with them, like he did with me.

DSC_0178Let me say that not only was he happy to do that, but I also got a signature for site founder Arleigh, and he wasn’t fine with the rough sketch he made that I bought, but insisted upon taking the time to improve it and make it look nicer.  Plus when I was checking out of the hotel two days after the convention, I noticed he was checking out at the same time and went to thank him, and he remembered me from the first day of the convention!  This man is a legend, and he became one of my personal heroes just from doing small things like that.

But there were many other great Japanese guests at this middle sized convention.  For fans of the Idolmaster franchise, there was the voice of Ami and Mami Futami, as well as the voice of Len and Rin Kagamine, Asami Shimoda (She sure has a proclivity towards voicing twins, doesn’t she?).  Here she is signing an item for me

DSC_0231Thankfully I had the foresight, and the bank account, to sign up for a VIP membership, which allowed me to skip to the front of autograph lines, because she was easily the most popular Japanese voice guest as far as autographs was concerned.  Immediately following her autograph session was a Q&A session, and some poor fools were begging for her autograph, and she had to sadly inform them that all her sessions were done.  I did see her one more time after the convention was over when we shared an elevator down to the lobby, but since my Japanese is extremely limited, I didn’t want to bother her even though her interpreter was standing nearby.  Besides, that would have just been for my own satisfaction, and I never want guests at these conventions to feel like they have to be inconvenienced just for us fans sake, even though I know she would have been extremely polite towards me if I had.

But I did say there were 10 Japanese guests, no?  Let me shoot straight, just because they’re Japanese doesn’t mean I’m gonna be an instant fan, but for most of the guests that does hold true, so next on the list is Yumiri Hanamori.

DSC_0206I do apologize for the side profile shot, but my other pictures didn’t come out as well as this one.  I wish I were a better kameko.  Let me say one thing about Miss Hanamori.  I was a fan of her works prior to meeting her, and I am more of a fan after meeting her because when I got her autograph on Sunday, she remembered me from Saturday, even though I was in cosplay then and looked fairly different.  Honestly, it’s little things like that that make me respect a voice actor all the more and I’ll definitely be looking forward to her future works.

Next on the list of guests that I really wanted to meet was a duo from one of my favorite animation studios.  I got to meet Shigeto Koyama and Hiromi Wakabayashi from Studio Trigger, who were personally involved in several of my favorite anime, including Little Witch Academia, Kill la Kill, and Ninja Slayer.

DSC_0189(Shigeto Koyama is on the left, Hiromi Wakabayashi is on the right)

These two gave probably my favorite panel of the convention, in which they gave a lot of insight towards what happens behind the scenes in an animation studio.  Luckily I had the foresight to take these pictures of them because during their panel they were showing video that hadn’t even been shown in Japan yet, so all recording was forbidden.  All in all I wound up becoming even more of a Studio Trigger fan, if that was even possible!

Speaking of Kill la Kill, another guest that the convention brought in was the musical group Garnidelia, who sang the second opening song to that anime.  In addition to Shimoda-san and the Trigger duo, this was another group that I used my VIP status to jump right to the front of the autograph line, which was good since even though it was a Friday, which is typically the slower of the two major days (Friday and Saturday), there still was a huge line to get their autograph.

DSC_0185But admittedly I am a guy, and so my focus was primarily on Maria, aka Mai Mizuhashi.

DSC_0186In most Japanese pop groups consisting of male and female performers, the females tend to get a lot more attention, largely due to their fans being lonely otaku.  But, hard not to see why when these groups have such lovely ladies in them.

Finally, the last autograph I got was of Natsuko Hara.  She’s definitely a newcomer in the anime scene, one that I haven’t really seen many roles of her, but everyone is a newcomer at some point, and you never know when someone is going to become super famous.  Here’s me getting a picture taken with her

DSC_0279Yes, I look much different from my picture with Maeda-san.  That picture was taken on Friday, this was on Sunday, and on Saturday I cosplayed as King Hippo from Punch Out, hence the shaved head (and shaved chest and stomach.  TMI?)  But honestly, I love getting autographs from lesser known talent like that, because you never know if they’re gonna get that one big role that puts them on the map.  And if they don’t, well who cares, it was fun anyways.  So fun, that my next pic with her winds up looking like I have a Hentai Woody face.  What’s a Hentai Woody Face you might ask?

DSC_0280That’s a Hentai Woody face.  That was totally random, but it just wound up looking bad.  For the record, this is the original Hentai Woody.

Hentai WoodySee the resemblance?

But enough about me, in addition to the great guests, there’s always an abundance of cosplay.  I myself did some cosplay, as I mentioned before, even though I was censored (Thanks staffer Jacob, for singling me out.  Yeah, funny how it was such an important rule for people to not have topless cosplay, except for all those tanned buff guys that were walking around without shirts.  I get it, I’m not super great to look at without a shirt on, but you didn’t have to be so obvious), so after that bit of complaining, let’s get on to the good cosplay that I saw!

DSC_0172First off, on the first day, within the first couple minutes of me getting to the convention center, I came across this spot on Saitama from One Punch Man.  I alway approve of people who go the extra mile to make their cosplay perfect, and the fact that this guy went and shaved his head makes it all the better. (or maybe he’s naturally bald and he’s just rolling with a cosplay that works with that.  Either way, good for him!)

DSC_0176This is Shinoa Hiragi from Owari no Seraph (Seraph of the End).  A fairly recent show, as it started last fall, I suspect there will be a lot more females doing cosplay of this, since the show is very popular amongst women due to its implied BL (boy’s love) leanings.

DSC_0177This was a really cute Mortal Kombat cosplay that I saw.  You often see plenty of single characters, especially Sub Zero, walking around any given convention, but what make this one special was not only it being a family cosplay, with the mother and her son doing it, but the fact that they made it look like the video game with someone holding the status bar.  Really well done and a great example of cosplay being a good family activity.

DSC_0208This is a Nagisa from Assassination Classroom.  Since this was a medium/small convention, I was more surprised that there was someone doing this cosplay rather than surprised there weren’t more.  I did see a Koro-sensei (someone dressed like the doll she’s holding), but unfortunately I was in a hurry to get to an autograph session, so I couldn’t pause to take their picture too.  Expect to see a lot more of this cosplay during the summer conventions.

DSC_0209This is a cosplay that is no doubt near and dear to both me and Arleigh.  This is an Umaru from the recent anime Himouto Umaru-chan.  This was a very divisive character in the anime community, in that you either loved her, or hated her with the passion of a million burning suns.  There was no middle ground.  Personally me, and I know Arleigh, both adored her, but I can certainly see where her antics would rub people the wrong way.

DSC_0210This is one of those characters that I’m familiar with, but I haven’t actually watched the anime that she comes from.  She’s one of the most popular girls (and waifu candidates) from the fall and winter seasons of Gate, and her name is Rori.  Since the spring season of anime is looking slow for me, perhaps I’ll give this show a shot.  I would also like to give this girl a lot of credit, because when I was trying to take her picture my camera wasn’t interested in focusing properly, so it took me almost 30 seconds to get the picture.  Thirty seconds might not seem like much to most people, but when you’re posing, it’s an eternity.  It’s amazing she could keep her smile for that long!

DSC_0214This is one of the more famous characters that I took pictures of.  The male is dressed as Spike Spiegel, and the female is of Faye Valentine, both of Cowboy Bebop fame.  This is one of cases where the anime was possibly more popular in the United States than it was in its homeland of Japan.  The best part of this is, I didn’t see Man Faye.  Don’t know who Man Faye is?  Good.  Don’t Google it.  Don’t. Google. It.

DSC_0216Another blast from the past.  Back when I was really starting out as an anime collector, there were very few options.  Unlike today, where there are over 100 new anime released each year, back then we’d be lucky to get 30 anime.  I know, this makes me sound like one of those grumpy old anime fans.  Trust me, I hate them too.  But this really is from a classic, Ranma 1/2.  Here we see Ranma in his female version (for those that don’t know, when Ranma is normal, he’s a boy, when he’s splashed with cold water, he’s a girl and won’t revert until splashed with warm water), and the one holding the giant spatula next to him is the best girl, Ukyo.  See, Ranma 1/2 was also probably the first, or at least the most well know among western anime fans, of the harem genre.  This is where one guy has multiple girls who are vying for his attention.  In Ranma’s case, he had 4 girls actively going after him, with a couple others that had passing interests as the story required.  Good times.

DSC_0220This is another blast from the past, and probably the first yuri (lesbian) series that most anime fans are familiar with.  This is Utena and Anthy from Revolutionary Girl Utena. When I say it’s a lesbian series, I’m not talking super overt and very explicit, but it’s very obvious as the series goes on.  There’s a ton I could say about this particular show, especially how it was pretty revolutionary (no pun intended) in how it stretched a paper thin budget that could barely support 13 episodes out to a 39 episode series.  I don’t use the term classic lightly, but this is definitely an anime classic.

DSC_0221This is from a show that I’m frankly surprised hasn’t inspired more cosplay.  This young lady is cosplaying as Erza Scarlett from Fairy Tail.  To be more specific, she’s cosplaying as Erza equipped with her Heaven’s Wheel armor.  Of Erza’s many many armors, this is one of the more complex ones, so I give her a lot of props for pulling it off.  Really, you can go to many conventions, and you just plain don’t see much Fairy Tail cosplay.  There also was a Gray Fullbuster walking around too, but I’m not a huge fan of taking pictures of guys, and I saw him walking around shirtless after I had been told to cover up, so I was feeling kinda bitter.  Sorry Gray, you came at the wrong time.

DSC_0225This one should be very familiar to anyone that was even passively interested in anime and watched it on broadcast TV.  This is the Dark Magician Girl from the anime Yu-Gi-Oh, and for a lot of newer anime fans, she was the first waifu they ever had.  I probably should explain that a waifu is an anime character that people have strong feelings of attraction towards, the literal meaning being that they want to marry that character, hence the term waifu, which is I suppose a bit of an insulting way of saying you want said character to be your wife.  (kind of mocking the way Japanese say a lot of English terms, waifu is the way the Japanese would say “wife” in English since Japanese words always end in a vowel sound, except for words ending in -n)  Surprisingly, this is probably the first Dark Magician Girl I’ve ever seen at any convention.  At the very least, she’s the only one that I’ve felt was worth taking a picture of.

DSC_0246Now, anime conventions aren’t solely about anime.  I myself dressed up as a video game character, and here we see a group that has dressed up as Star Wars: The Force Awakens characters.  I especially love cosplay like this, where the whole family gets involved.  Trust me, there were a ton of Kylo Ren cosplayers walking around.  There were the usual ton of Stormtrooper cosplay.  There were several Rey Skywalker Mysteriousgirlwedontknowwhoherdadis cosplayers too.  But this was the only group who actually was coordinating their costume.  Plus the little girl was towing the BB8 unit around, and it was way too cute.

DSC_0275Told you there were cosplayers walking around without shirts on that weren’t being molested by Jacob.  But, naturally he has a six pack, and not a keg.  Really though, I didn’t take this picture to make a point, I took it because he’s cosplaying as someone from Shimoneta, a particularly hilarious, yet sad anime from this summer.  Hilarious because the content is just plain funny.  Sad, because one of the lead voice actresses in the show died at the young age of 38.

DSC_0254Sometimes I just see a costume that even when I don’t know where it’s from, it’s just so well done that I need to take a picture of it.  This is one of those.

DSC_0205And this is another.  Did they make them themselves?  If so, great.  Did they commission someone else to make them?  If so, who cares?  Really nice costumes either way.

So, while this was the second smallest convention I’ve ever attended (Another Anime Convention in New Hampshire was the smallest at around 3000 people) it’s probably the one that’s been the most fun in recent times.  Many other conventions could learn from their example that you can have a really fun show and don’t need 30,000 or more attendees.

I’ll end this rather lengthy post with one final picture.  This picture wasn’t taken by me, and it wasn’t from this convention, but it was taken OF me, at a previous convention, and it’s the same cosplay I did at this convention of King Hippo of Punch Out fame.

King HippoI have no idea why Jacob or anyone else would find that obscene.  Some people have no taste.  (yes, I’m ticked off at Jacob.  Bastard)


A Tugboat Christmas

Ok, very few people here probably know that I, pantsukudasai56, am a rough and tumble sailor.  12346436_1086624831368893_8501589540086335528_n

Well, fact is, I am.  I may not be the most active of sorts, but I do try now and again to post up something for special occasions.  Well, Christmas is one of those special occasions, and for that, I have a little Christmas story to share that a sailor can appreciate.  I know this is a little off from the usual content that this site provides, but I hope that it can still be appreciated.

Twas the night before Christmas
And all through the tug,
Only the deckhand was stirring
The tea in his mug.

The dock lines were hung
By the fiddly with care
In hopes that crew change
Soon would be there.

The tug’s crew was nestled
Safe in their beds
All thankful the pilots
Had taken their meds.

Me, out of my float coat,
And warm woolen cap,
Had just settled in for
A short off-watch nap.

When down in the galley
There arose such a clatter
I rolled right back over-
didn’t care what’s the matter.

While the moon on the breasts
Of the calendar girls
Gave luster to New Year,
They twinkled like pearls.

When what to my wandering eyes should appear?
But a rusty old crew boat
Approaching, too near.

With a little old driver,
All Cajun and thick
I could tell right away,
That he wasn’t too quick.

More rapid than eagles
His curses, they came
As he yelled at his deckhand
And called out bad names.

Go faster!
Get moving!
He was boozed up and drooling!
He had a pistol!
The kind used for dueling!

He was dressed in his besties,
From his head to his testes
Three coonskins, a gator’s hide
And 2 robin’s nesties.

His eyes, they were bloodshot-
His dimples, all hairy
His hair smelled like onions,
His nose was quite scary.

Then up to the wheelhouse
The drunk Cajun flew
With reckless abandon,
Like he’d been sniffing glue.

And then with a clinking
A clunk and a shutter
He flew to the stacks
And slid down like butter.

But he spoke not a word
And went straight to his work
He ate all our junk food
This guy was a jerk!

No gumbo? He asked
Nay Nay, he demanded
For a spontaneous rampage,
It seemed like he’d planned it.

And laying his finger
Beside of his nose
He emptied its contents,
As if blown from a hose.

As I watched from my room
With great confusion,
I couldn’t make any sense
Of the midnight intrusion.

Then he sprang to his crew-boat
Still belching black smoke-
I know I’m up early
But this must be a joke!

And I heard him exclaim
As he steamed out of sight
“I drive boats by day,
And I pillage by night!”

Then up from my nap
I was suddenly wakened
It was all just a dream—
But why am I naked?

Anime You Should Be Watching: Gakkou Gurashi (School Live)

School LiveHello again all you followers of TTSL.  I could do my usual introduction of why I haven’t posted in forever, and reminder of who I am, blah blah, but for today, let’s forgo that and let me talk about an anime that I personally think is the best anime to come out in the past year.  Depending on where you watched it, you’ll know it as either Gakkou Gurashi, or School Live.

To everyone that read any sort of synopsis for this anime, you all had an inkling of what to expect. But for those of use who read it months in advance and promptly forgot, episode 1 was a total shocker.  Essentially all you have to know is that Yuki is batshit insane, or rather she’s in complete denial mode, and everything else makes a lot of sense.  I try to avoid spoilers as much as I can here at TTSL, but as I said before, the very synopsis gives this part away, so let me be blunt.  There are four girls basically battling for their lives in a zombie apocalypse in a school that was designed for that very purpose.  Yes, in a very short time we are given the facts that the school they’re living in has solar panels to give them electricity, and water purifiers to give them fresh water from the ground, or as long as electricity remains, purified water from their waste.  Hence the solar panels.

Now, these are not the kind of zombies that one would normally expect, no, rather these are Land of the Dead type zombies, where the zombies have some kind of idea as to the kinds of lives they lived before they turned.  So since we’re all Land of the Dead mode, naturally the zombies here are choosing to remain at school, since that’s the most natural thing for them to do.

First thing that must be remembered is that Yuki is a nut job.  Yes, she’s Miss Crazy Girl.  Me harping on that is a minor spoiler, but only one that would last beyond episode 2.  In most every zombie apocalypse, there’s at least one person who is going to deny it as long as they can.  In this case, that is Yuki.  She thinks she’s in school like normal and that everything is fine.  We very easily find out in the first episode that that is not the case.  We’re in full blown zombie apocalypse time, and most of the girls in the group know it and accept that fact.

Still, the fact that you know that I know that you know that we all know the full outcome of this, doesn’t change the fact that the girls here are trying their best to live a somewhat normal life.  Yes, their school is abnormally stocked (it’s explained), and yes 3 out of 4 girls are very ready to accept this (not as well explained as the previous one), but who cares?  This is one of the rare examples of cute girls doing cute things during a zombie apocalypse that kind of actually works.  To all us zombie survivalists, does everything these girls do work out?  Hell no.  But, can we think that for the time being that maybe we could accept that they’d live as long as they did?  Sure, why not?  Because at the end of the day, we all want to hope that there are cute waifus waiting for us when 99% of humanity are shambling hordes.  And really, isn’t that what we’re all hoping for?  Well, I sure am, and if you’re not, then don’t come running to me when you’re bitten and turning.  In fact, you’re not gonna come running to me, because the running zombie is nothing more than a Hollywood invention.