Otakon 2016 – a con in review

Otakon’s last weekend at Baltimore was filled with a plethora of guests with varied talents. From Japan, we have industry guests, from PA Works CEO Horikawa Kenji, Producer Kikuchi Nobuhiro and art director Higashiji Kazuki, illustrator Fukagawa Kasumi of the Idolish Seven fame and director Akane Kazuki from Sunrise amongst others. Popular seiyuu Yamamoto Kazutomi and Makino Yui share their experiences and musical talent. Other musical guests include ALL-OFF, Michi and Yoshiki making a rare appearance via webcam. Stateside guests include Ray Chase, Robbie Daymond, Aaron Dismuke, Caitlin Glass, Lauren Landa and way, way more. Culture guests include priestess and model Kanawa Kuniko, Men at Arms and these are just the tip of the list. With the number of guests and events, we can’t hit everything. However, the weekend has created memories which the city will not soon forget.
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Otakon 2016 – PA Works Gallery


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Otakon 2016 – Yamamoto Kazutomi panel

The panel opened with the first episode of Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu love!! love!! Watching the first episode subbed on a large screen with other fans is a great experience, we get to laugh together at the same jokes.


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Otakon 2016 – part of the masquerade and Michi’s concert

Arrived during skit 12 and though we only saw a bit of the performances, those we saw were very good. The host was the same and aside from his usual jokes, he also posted questions and comments from twitter on the screen which were hilarious.


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Otakon 2016 – Yoshiki panel

Unfortunately, there was a few second delay as always with these online video conferences. But the fans were patient and Yoshiki was trying his best. He was sitting with one of his pianos in the back.
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Otakon 2016 – Makino Yui panel

Makino-san opened by greeting the audience, noting that it was her first time in Baltimore and she was very happy with yesterday’s concert. She was thrilled that everyone was able to sing with her. The audience started calling out ‘Hello!’ in response. Makino-san smiled as she said that she was initially afraid that she was going to be singing by herself. *fans awwed* “I’m so happy to sing with you. Thank you very much!”
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Otakon 2016 – Sailor Moon Viz panel

Prior to the start of the panel, they show the trailers for Sailor Moon, Sailor Moon R and Sailor Moon Crystal. It is interesting to see the trailers back to back and being able to compare the new and old series. Though the voice actors are the same, the feel of the series is very different. Even looking at the trailers really hyped up the crowd who cheered for their favorite moments on the screen.
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Book review: My Kid Brother’s Band a/k/a The Beatles!

My Kid Brother’s Band, aka The Beatles!
By Louise Harrison
Published by Acclaim Press, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-938905-52-0
Review copy sent by publisher

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

I first saw Louise Harrison at this year’s Fest for Beatles Fans in Rye, N.Y. She spoke about her brother George with so much love and affection that I decided I had to read her book to learn more about the man we Beatles fans call The Quiet Beatle, but she called her little brother. I was half expecting a puff piece making George look more angelic than was humanly possible, like another Harrison bio I read (see my earlier review, “Here Comes the Sun: The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison” by Joshua M. Greene). Instead, I found an honest, in-depth history of the author’s life during World War II as well as before and after her little brother became famous.
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Book review: Here Comes the Sun. The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison

Here Comes the Sun. The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison
By Joshua M. Greene
Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2006
ISBN-13:9780470127803
Review copy provided by publisher

Review by Ida Vega-Landow

Let me say right from the beginning: I loved this book! Despite the obvious proselytizing on behalf of the Hindu religion—what used to be known as Krishna Consciousness here in the States—Joshua M. Greene, writer and producer for PBS and the Disney Channel (he also wrote “Justice at Dachau” and “Witness: Voices from the Holocaust”, which was made into a PBS-TV documentary), has written a tender, loving account of the life of George Harrison, before and after the Beatles, and how his faith in Krishna helped him to overcome all the emotional and financial setbacks in his life, ultimately allowing him to die with grace after losing his battle with brain cancer.
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AnimeNEXT 2016 – a con in review

From the suburb to the city, AnimeNEXT starts it’s new life in a larger venue, the Atlantic City Convention Center. Much larger than the Garden State, it has room for the growing number of attendees. This year, I know many have decided not to trek it out to East coast’s own city of temptations, but they missed out on an exciting weekend of music, fashion, anime and fun.

Headlining guests is the creator of Black Lagoon, Hiroe Rei-sensei, seiyuu Matsui Naoko-san and Producer/Director Daichi Akitaro-san (Fruits Basket). TRIGGER Wakabayashi Hiromi and Koyama Shigeto returns third year in a row with Inferno Cop’s own designer Amemiya Akira-san. Stateside guests includes voice actors Richard Epcar, Todd Haberkorn, Bill Rogers, Marc Swint and more. Mint Neko is will be on the show floor with his latest from Japan along with a fashion show by Vedetta Marie. AnimeNEXT is also happy to celebrate ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D’s 10th Anniversary at AC with a Friday concert along with ZAQ’s live on Sunday. Also returning to AnimeNEXT is the World Cosplay Summit finals with the chosen winners going to compete in the 2016 WCS in Nagoya, Japan!

Atlantic City…here is AnimeNEXT!
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AnimeNEXT 2016 – Masquerade and WCS USA Finals

Since the masquerade and the autograph signing was at the same time, I was late in heading to the Main Events hall. It started a bit late since when I arrived, they were only on the 6th performance. This masquerade is special since aside from the usual main performances, it also housed the World Cosplay Summit US finals where Team USA will be chosen to compete in Japan this year. Go Team USA!


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AnimeNEXT 2016 – Sekai Project panel

Publishing Manager Evan Pago hosted the Sekai Project panel. He opened by noting that everyone who worked with Sekai Project started working with other parts of the industry. He shared his love for Idolmaster and noted that all who work in the company need to like Idolmaster. A bit of history, founded in 2013 by a group of anime fans and headed by Raymound Qian and Chris Ling. Met in a restaurant and decided that the industry can be alot better since there was very little overseas fan representation from and to Japan. Their main goal is to make sure that visual novels get a shot in the US as well as show Japan that there is a viable market overseas. Also, Sekai Project would like to give smaller Japanese creators a chance to market their games overseas.
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AnimeNEXT 2016 – TRIGGER Inferno Cop panel

From left to right, designer Koyama Shigeto, animator director Amemiya Akira and director Wakabayashi Hiromi on the laptop. Wakabayashi Hiromi-san hosted the panel, led the questions and provided a plethora of information to the fans. First, he commented that he was surprised at the immense reception and crowd which showed up to the panel. (Considerably, since the room was packed with people lined up on the sides and standing in the back.) He continued by stating that due to this visit to New York/New Jersey, Amemiya-san made a new episode for Inferno Cop that he will be showing at this panel. He added that it was Amemiya-san’s first time overseas.
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AnimeNEXT 2016 – ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D concert

With a mixture of rock, rap and high energy beats, ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D returns to take Anime Next by storm, gracing the first con night with a live concert that shook the masses. The concert opened first with ‘In My World’, the ending to Ao no Exorcist which got the crowd jumping to the awesome rhythm of the guitar and drums. Vocalist SHiNNOSUKE stood middle of the stage with his guitar with RYOTA at the left and drummer in the middle back of the stage. Support guitarist KAT stood at the right.
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Anime Expo 2016 Cosplay

Some of the more, um, artistic effects in these photos are my camera acting up.

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Book review: Dark Money

Dark Money
By Jane Mayer
Published by Penguin Random House
ISBN: 978-0-7352-1033-2
Review copy provided by reviewer

Review by KM Warner

By now it’s well known that Charles and David Koch have been very busy in distributing substantial amounts of money in support of right wing causes. What wasn’t well known before the publication of Jane Mayer’s meticulously researched book Dark Money The Hidden Agenda of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right was that they and similarly minded economic libertarians have been embarked on a forty-year effort to remake the American economic, political and cultural system in their own image through the strategic establishment of tax-deductible philanthropic organizations that are little more than fronts for the funders’ business interests.
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Katsucon 2016 – a con in review

The focus of Katsucon has it’s share of panels and guests but the highlight has to be the cosplay which takes over the Gaylord National Resort during Valentine’s weekend. Next to the harbor, the Atrium, the gazebo, hallways and lobby, cosplay shoots take place at all hours celebrating the fun, the intricacies of the craft and the artistry of photography. The location and relaxed feel of the convention draws fans from across the nation with special international guests and attendees like our favorites from Canada. Hit the link for photos from the weekend, a few panels, the masquerade and some of the best cosplays of the East coast.
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Katsucon 2016 – Funimation Panel

A special video of their online streaming catalogue was shown with a variety of series including fan favorite Dragon Ball. The streaming service plans include a sub-pass which gives subscribers to all subtitled content for $4.99 including simulataneous. The All Access pass gives fans access to everything on the site including special convention-only events and subscriber forums as well as contests. The 14 day trial expanded to 30 days for a limited amount of time. The service is available on many devices and there will be a mobile app for the ios and android. Rojas added that there the service is on the PS3 and PS4 as well as Xbox One and 360. McKinney adds that new apps are on the way.
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