Anime news

      Well, this will be my first post covering a anime convention for my blog, I try to make a point out of attending at least one anime convention per year, but I’ve never covered one for my blog. Generally when I attend a anime convention it’s out of state, and I go there to drink and party with friends, no work. I had not originally intended to attend this local convention because I was scheduled to work on Saturday, but I ended up with the day off, so at the last minute I made a quick trip and was not disappointed.

Hyatt Youmacon 2009

      Youmacon is held at the Dearborn, Michigan Hyatt hotel (next year it will be held at the Detroit Renaissance Center) a very nice and clean facility with plenty of free parking surrounding the location.  Even though I arrived at the convention fairly late (1PM), my walk from the parking lot to the hotel entrance was less than 5 minutes.

entrance to youmacon 2009

      Once inside the hotel, I hit up the registration line, which moved very quickly taking me less than 10 minutes to fill-out my registration card and pay my $25 dollars admission fee. Once I got my bearings straight I headed off to the artist alley to take a look around at the offerings. While I did see a lot of interesting original artwork, one thing that really struck me was the shear number of vendors selling cat ear hats, but the funniest things I saw was a vendor selling a “how to glomp” t-shirt right next to a “no glomping allowed” t-shirt.

a shot of the artist room

artist room Youmacon 2009

      After finishing up with the artist room my next stop was the dealer/vendor room which featured a decent variety of anime DVDs, manga, J-pop music CDs, cosplay items, anime & manga models, anime & manga t-shirts, and Japanese food & snacks. One thing that I’ve noticed over years is the rise in the spending power of the female anime and manga fans; I’ve never seen such a high percentage of female cosplay items and yaoi stuff for sale. I’m really glad that Youmacon is moving to a larger facility next year because the dealer room was more crowded and cramped than many conventions I’ve attended that boast 2-3x the amount of attendees.

a shot of the dealer/vendor room

dealer-vendor room Youmacon 2009

     After finishing up in the vendors’ room, I stopped by the AMV room to watch a few videos and found the room packed with fans giving the room a very lively feel to it. Then I decided to head towards the cosplay and gaming area but first stopping to listen to a little live music at a lounge area.

a shot of the lounge area

lounge area Youmacon 2009

      After a short break, I made my way to the gaming and cosplay area, but I didn’t manage to get any pics of the gaming area because they had a no packages allowed rule, and I wasn’t leaving my purchases outside the door. The cosplay photo-shoot area was well stocked with a wide variety of characters from Final Fantasy, Trigun, Sailor Moon, FMA, Inu Yasha, Lucky Star, K-On!, Naruto, Bleach, Death Note, Haruchi, plus many many others. By far the most popular cosplay outfits for girls seemed to be some version of Haruhi, followed closely by Sailor Moon, and then some form of a custom Japanese schoolgirl outfit or custom Lolita outfit. For the guys it seemed like the most popular outfit was of the Naruto variety followed closely by an assortment of Bleach outfits. Since I got to the cosplay area late the best spots for pictures were already taken and I wasn’t going to smash my way through a bunch of kids to get the pics, but I think I’ll return on Sunday with the intention of getting some good cosplay pics.

a couple of shots of some interesting cosplay outfits

Al from FMA

grim reapers

     Once I decided it was time to head home, a custom Naruto motorcycle display near the main entrance caught my eye, and I just had to stop and gawk.

Custom Naruto Motorcycle 001

     After admiring this fine demonstration of love for a anime series I chatted with Rob Pasque, the bike’s owner. Rob told me that his custom Honda VTX-1800 Naruto bike features custom paint, wheels, seats, pipes, and many other custom features, and his bike took two years to build from conception to completion with a cost of around $65,000 USD. I think I’ll stop back on Sunday to get a few more pics of the bike, and Rob has promised to send me some additional pics of his bike.

a few additional pics of the bike

Custom Naruto Bike 002Custom Naruto Bike 003

Naruto Bike Information

     Once I got back home it was time for me to check out the spoils acquired at the convention, and in the spirit of Remembering Love I traded in my old VHS fansubs of  the original Macross series for a set of Macross DVDs. So, next week I’ll begin my journey through the entire Macross universe, and I hopefully finish before the end of the year.

Macross DVD1Macross DVD2

      Well, I plan on returning to Youmacon 2009 on Sunday to get some better cosplay pics and do a little more looking around. Then I’ll give some final thoughts on the convention, and share some insights on how I think modern fandom has mostly changed for the better. If anyone has any specific requests for cosplay pics please leave a comment tonight, and I’ll see what I can do. 

As I was skimming the AnimeNation news blog I spotted a bit of wonderful news; Isao Takahata , legendary anime director and co-founder of Studio Ghibli will make “The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter”, (AKA Taketori Monogatari, or Kaguya Hime no Monogatari) his next film.

The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter or  Kaguya Hime no Monogatari is one of Japan’s oldest and most beloved fairy tale. The first written reference of this tale that I can find comes from the Konjaku Monogatarishū AKA “Tales from the past”, a collection of myths from Japan’s distant past written around the 12th century. Since the tale of Princess Kaguya is one Japan’s most beloved fairy tales/myths is been referenced in so many anime and manga it’s almost too many to count. Because this tale probably was transmitted orally before it was put to written word several different versions, both long and short exist. Below, I’ll give a a quick telling of my favorite version.

Tale of the Bamboo Princess

The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter

“Once upon a time” (my words),

       There lived a poor bamboo cutter who was one day cutting bamboo in his fields when he beheld a wondrous light, bending down to have a closer look he saw a beautiful creature in the heart of the reed, the girl was only four inches tall. The bamboo cutter picked the small girl up and took her home to his wife, and together they raised her in a small basket. As the days went by, every time the cutter returned to his fields to do his cutting work he found gold, and soon the cutter and his wife became very rich.

       After a period of only three months the girl grew from her small stature to a fully grown maid, the most beautiful maid in the whole land. When the bamboo cutter decided to name his daughter her held a feast and named her Lady Kaguya or (Precious Slender Bamboo of the Field of Autumn). As the story of Lady Kaguya’s beauty spread throughout the land many suitors showed up at the bamboo cutter’s house attempting to win her love. After a long period of time all but five of the men went home and finally the remaining five men (all Noblemen) asked the bamboo cutter to bestow his daughter to one of them, to which, he replied that since Lady Kaguya really wasn’t his real daughter she wasn’t required to follow his wishes. Even thought the five men eventually went home they still kept asking the bamboo cutter for his daughter’s hand in marriage.

         The bamboo cutter soon became bothered by the men’s demands for his daughter’s hand and he went to her and said it would be fitting for such a handsome and fair maid to marry one of the noblemen, to which, she replied that I’m not so fair to be able to trust myself to choose marriage to an untested heart. So, it was soon arranged that all five noblemen were summoned before Lady Kaguya and each nobleman was be given a difficult task to complete, and the one that succeeded would marry Lady Kaguya.

      The first nobleman, Prince Ishizukuri, was told to travel to northern India and bring back the stone beggar bowl that the Buddha himself had used. The second nobleman, Prince Kuramochi, was told to travel to a mountain named Horai where a tree grows that has silver roots, a golden trunk, and bears fruit of pure white jade and bring back a branch. The third nobleman, Sadaijin Dainagon, was told to find and have fashioned a robe made of the pelts of flame proof rats for Lady Kaguya. The fourth nobleman, Chiunagon, was told to bring back the rainbow hued jewel that’s hidden inside a dragon’s head. The fifth and final nobleman, lord Iso, was told to find and return with the cowry-shell that the swallow carries over the sea plain.

        The noblemen departed to complete their tasks, and over the course of several years either tried to fake, steal, or just plain failed to complete their assigned tasks and Lady Kaguya rejected all five of the noblemen. Soon the news of Lady Kaguya’s beauty eventually reached the Mikado (Emperor of Japan) so he sent one of his palace ladies to meet with, and report back to him everything about Lady Kaguya, but Lady Kaguya refused to meet with her. The Mikado soon sends for the bamboo cutter and his daughter to report to the palace with the reward of a noble title to be awarded to the bamboo cutter. After talking with his daughter, Lady Kaguya tells her father that if she’s forced to his house she’ll die, so the price of his nobility will be his daughter’s life. The bamboo cutter travels to the palace and tells the Mikado of his daughter decision, and the Mikado is so interested in seeing Lady Kaguya that he arranges a royal hunt so he can stop by for a visit the bamboo cutter’s house.

        When the Mikado enters the bamboo cutter’s house he sees a wondrous light and finds its source is Lady Kaguya, as he gets a glimpse of her face she disappears. Knowing that Lady Kaguya is no mortal woman he begs for her to return, and she does. The Mikado pleads his love for Lady Kaguya, but Lady Kaguya tells him that she must remain at this house, so the Mikado departs in sadness. In the seventh month of the third year after the royal visit, Lady Kaguya looks upon the full moon with sadness and pain, and Lady Kaguya tells her father that the sight of the moon causes her to reflect on the sadness of the world. The next month, Lady Kaguya tells her maids that she’s no mortal woman but was born in the palace of the moon kingdom, and will soon leave this world and depart for her birthplace. . When the bamboo cutter finds out that his daughter would soon depart he becomes angry and informs the Mikado, who sends a whole company to prevent her departure.

     On the night of the next full moon, a great cloud descends from the moon bringing with it a great host of moon-folk, and a glorious carriage. The troop of soldiers tries to prevent the moon-folk from landing but all their arrows miss the mark, and the leader of the moon-folk orders the bamboo cutter to bring forth Lady Kaguya, the power of his command opens all the locked doors, and Lady Kaguya comes forth. The commander tells Lady Kaguya that it’s time to leave this sorry world, and just as she’s about to depart she hands the bamboo cutter a scroll which says that she’s sorry for causing him pain and that if she was born to this world she would have not caused her father pain. Lady Kaguya also says that because her father loved her so well, she’ll leave behind her silken mantle as a memorial so he can gaze upon it when the moon shines and he can remember his daughter.

    Then the moon-folk bring forward a coffer that contains a Celestial Robe of Feathers and a small portion of the Elixir of Life, and after Lady Kaguya drinks some of the Elixir of life the moon-folk   attempt to place the Robe of Feathers over her back but she stops them. She tells the moon-folk that she still has something to do; Lady Kaguya proceeds to write a message to the Mikado, and she gives the scroll and the remaining Elixir of Life to the troop commander. Once Lady Kaguya places the Robe of Feathers over her back all her memories of the mortal world are erased and she departs with the moon-folk to return to the moon.

        The message to the Mikado says that while he desired to be with her, it was not permitted to be, and that basically she wanted to be with him but she was forbidden to do so, and that caused great pain to her heart, so she’s sorry.

       After the Mikado read the letter his heart was so overcome with sadness that he ordered his commander to take the scroll along with the Elixir of life to the top of the highest mountain in Suruga and burn them. His loyal commander, following the Mikado’s orders, climbed to the summit of the tallest mountain and carried out the Mikado’s orders. From that time forward men would look upon that mountain and say that the smoke rising from its peak mingles with the clouds of heaven, and that mountain is now called Fuji-yama, the never dying.

This is a wonderful tale that showcases how the Japanese love of nature is linked with the divine, and I’m sure that when Studio Ghibli completes this movie it’ll be a monster hit in Japan.      

The collapse of Geneon a few months ago left many anime fans wondering about the health of the US anime industry and it’s distribution companies. After hearing the latest news about ADV Films the US anime fan can come to no other conclusion other that the state of the US anime is very poor. In the last couple of weeks ADV  has cancelled it’s Newtype USA magazine, put it’s operations in the UK and Germany on hold, terminated it’s support program for anime clubs, cancelled it’s anime film night in TX, and put almost it’s entire upcoming DVD release schedule on indefinite (at least for now) hold. ADV later released a statement about how it’s working to bring future releases out on Blu-ray, and it will work to get it’s promised series released, don’t hold your breath. While I’ve been working on a long post about the future of the US anime industry I feel that the entire domestic anime industry is on very shaky ground. Many of us older fans have seen this coming for some time now, I’ve seen this type of shake up happened to the sport’s card industry, and the US comic industry. I’ll try and get my post about the problems the industry is having and the way forward for them published in the next two weeks. Below is a copy of the original ICv2 news story about ADV, the original story was pulled shortly thereafter, but I found a copy and it’s available for your viewing. I love anime and only hope for the best for the industry, I had planned on buying many of the pulled ADV titles.


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