Archive for April, 2011

Anime Boston 2011

I’ll come right out with it—I’m not a huge anime person… er, “otaku.”  I’d never watched a lick of anything that could even remotely be considered anime until about a year and a half ago.  “The Boyfriend” is hugely into pretty much anything Japanese, and at his urging, I watched a couple of series (Fate/Stay Night, Macross Frontier, some Toshokan Senso), but my love for the stuff hasn’t progressed by leaps and bounds—more like baby steps.  I’m an anime novice, and Boyfriend is my trainer.  You could say I’m not the most dedicated student in this particular subject.

Anime Boston4

Last year’s Anime Boston was my first ever experience in this unique world that is infinitely larger than I ever presumed it to be.  I went into the con really not knowing what to expect—I was pretty blind about what I’d be encountering, and I reckon Boyfriend and his friends did that on purpose for the sake of not scaring me away.  As we joked at the time, I was witness to sights I would never be able to “unsee.”  But at the end of the day, I did have a lot of fun.  With that in mind, I decided to give this year’s con a go.

 
Here’s a short view of Anime Boston 2011, from the eyes of a Saturday Day Pass n00b.
 

Some Things I Saw:

– Various con-goers opening and comparing their wares with childlike gleeAB3
– Various con-goers play battling in the hallways with gigantic cardboard weapons
– A dude dressed as Darkwing Duck
– A Rorschach (I don’t really understand what he has to do with this type of con, but okay)
– “Normal” people in the Prudential, looking absolutely terrified
– The very satisfying sight of Boyfriend being pummeled over and over again in Mortal Kombat 3 by yours truly in the video game room
– Lots and lots of scary nakedness
 

Some Things I Heard:

– “I just talked this guy into buying me this manga because I don’t have an I.D.”  (How did this person actually get IN to the con, I wonder?)
– Many outcries of “Marco!  … Polo!” followed by choruses of “SHUT UP” and, for some inexplicable reason, the “Buttscratcher” Family Guy meme
– The ear-piercing howls of random screaming girls
 

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What I Bought:

– An Anime Boston “toothpick holder” (read:  shot glass)
– A wicked cute chibi Ranka Lee figure for my desk that Boyfriend bought for me
– Far too much food from The Cheesecake Factory (unbelievable chicken dumplings, oh my God)
– I wanted but did not buy a pair of goggles from this nifty steampunk vendor.  I don’t know why or what I would have even done with them—I just thought they looked cool.  Purple lenses, hey.
– Boyfriend also tried to talk me into buying a set of replica Wonder Woman bracers and tiara for $345.  Yeah, not so much.
 

Various Thoughts in My Head at any Given Point in Time:AB5

– “Oh my gosh, dude, it’s Deadpool!”
– “That person really should not be wearing that costume.”
– “I’m hungry.”
– “Bump into me one more time and I swear I’ll kill you….”
 

Overall Impression:

There were a couple of things that made this year’s con a little less enjoyable, at least for me.  For one thing, we didn’t go with as large a group of people as we did last year.  In my view, the experience is really about who you’re sharing it with and less about the quality of the convention itself.  If you’re with the right people, you can make pretty much anything fun.  That’s not to say I didn’t have a good go around—just that it was different, and probably a lot more “quiet.”

AB6That said, for what little I experienced this time, it was still a good exploit.  The time was mostly spent in the dealers’ rooms and video game hall; I somehow completely missed out on the Artist Alley (which is unfortunate, because apparently there was an artist there with a totally amazing Wonder Woman print that I would have bought), the masquerade, and various other panels.  I can’t say I was completely heartbroken for missing these things; our visit was just long enough to satisfy without being overwhelming.  It’s hard to get fully enveloped by something that you know so little about, and more often than not, I felt completely out of place amongst the hardcore geekery.  That’s a pretty rare occurrence for me.  I can typically hold my geek with the best of them.

Slowly but surely, however, my venture into the world of anime gets a little deeper with each passing year.  Maybe one day, Boyfriend will actually convince me to sit down and watch Cowboy Bebop, or that most holy of animes, Neon Genesis Evangelion.  Maybe you’ll see me cosplaying as Rosie Stark.

Until then, I’m gearing up for the stuff that’s more suited for me:  Boston Comic Con, I shall see you this Saturday.
  

_____

Looking for more on Anime Boston?  Check out Nerd Caliber’s great pictorials and video reviews!

 

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Join S.H.I.E.L.D.

A number of weeks ago I read about an online promotion for the upcoming Thor movie wherein S.H.I.E.L.D. was recruiting agents.  You went onto their website and entered your e-mail address, and received a message saying that you would be called upon to join the ranks when the time came.  A couple of days ago, I received this—which I nearly didn’t open, as it was sent from “Acura”:

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I had a little mini geek-out at how cool this felt.  Entrance exam for S.H.I.E.L.D.!  I’m going to ace this!  I sat in my work cubicle during my lunch break, logging in and studying the website, feeling all determined.  Of course, this is S.H.I.E.L.D. we’re talking about—they’re not going to let just anyone in.  First thing’s first—and that, my friends, is a fingerprint scan:

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(Click on photos to enlarge.)

Gotta say, a retinal scan would have upped the coolness factor, but this will do.  You have two choices for logging in:

  1. Use your Facebook account to create an agent record
  2. Log in as a visitor (which won’t allow you to save your progress)

I’m not really a huge fan of using my Facebook account to log into other sites, especially when I’m not on my personal computer, so I took the easy way out for now and selected “Vistor.”  It takes you to a narrated mini movie describing the organization and you whirl through a lot of different events and photos and nifty graphs in rapid succession:

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Until you eventually reach this screen:

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Hahaa.  Nice, eh?  Can’t fully say I was expecting that.  It could be worse—it could have been product placement for a Prius (blech).  You’re instructed to customize your vehicle—I chose the TL (although the MDX sports a 2.4 liter turbo, I’m not a huge fan of the midsize crossover) and went on my merry way to the assignments screen.  Getting there, you’re hit with thrilling shots like this, meant to make the fanboy(girl) squee:

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You ultimately come to a series of four “case files,” of which you must complete the first in order to access the next, and so on.  Case L1 is comprised of completing a sector scan to locate a recorded energy disturbance.

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More geeking out upon hitting the “Activate Agent Task” button.  Oooh, it feels so … authorized!  I’m so excited!  Nick Fury, I won’t fail you!

Want to see what comes next?  Too bad.  This is as far as I go.  I’m under obligation from S.H.I.E.L.D. not to disclose any further information.  I’ve already said too much… I bet they’re hovering overhead as we speak.

This was just meant to entice—I can’t do all your work for you, agent.
Check out http://www.joinshield.com/ to sign up and become part of the campaign.


Blurb Reviews

I wrote you all what I thought was a witty write-up on PAX East, but my computer apparently liked it so much that it ate it.  I apologize that I don’t have the patience to re-create from memory what was quite a long post, so I offer you blurb reviews in its place.  Not quite the same, I know, but we make do with what we have.  Off we go!

Ruse #1Ruse #1
Written by Mark Waid
Illustrated by Mirco Pierfederici

I’ve never read the original Ruse title, or any other Crossgen series for that matter.  But when I heard about this book coming back along with Sigil under Marvel’s takeover of Crossgen as an imprint, I figured there wouldn’t be a better time for me to jump in, and Ruse sounded pretty intriguing from the solicits.  The first issue didn’t let me down, and I liked that it was easy to get into as a new reader without needing to look up years of back story.  I like Mark Waid’s manner of storytelling, and the artwork creates a great tone for the book as we follow a grand detective and his “assistant” (small joke) solve a murder.  Waid opens the book right in the thick of things, and it only gets better from there.  I have to say, I was a little worried that the female character in this series was going to come off as some helpless, futile figure only along for the sake of “bettering” the male character.  My fears aren’t entirely subsided from the first issue—but there’s reason for hope.  I’m on board.

Avengers: Children's Crusade Young Avengers #1Avengers: Children’s Crusade Young Avengers #1
Written by Allan Heinberg
Illustrated by Alan Davis & Mark Farmer

When I first saw the solicitation for this in Previews, my reaction was something along the lines of “OMG ANOTHER ONE WHAT THE HELL I HATE YOU MARVEL.”  I really didn’t, and still don’t, see a reason for this issue to exist, other than to try to fill the absurd gap between current issues of Children’s Crusade, and even then, it’s pointless.  Also, what’s with the title?  That’s honestly the best they could come up with?  You shock me, guys.  Anyway, if you’re reading Children’s Crusade, you can pretty much skip over this entirely with no consequences whatsoever.  The only thing we learn from this one-shot is that Kang the Conqueror (Iron Lad of the future) tricks his past/current self (Iron Lad of the present) to go back and try to stop the Young Avengers from rescuing the Scarlet Witch so that they don’t get killed by the real Avengers … or something like that.  Yeah, I can’t even explain it, basically because it makes no sense and has no value to the story whatsoever.  Cheap gimmicks all around.  Also not a fan of Davis’ art.  Avoid this like the plague, but pick up the next issue of Children’s Crusade (which I have yet to get to).

Captain America & the Secret Avengers #1Captain America and the Secret Avengers #1
Written by Kelly Sue Deconnick
Illustrated by Greg Tocchini

I’m still debating how I feel about this one.  You know what?  It really wasn’t bad.  It wasn’t the BEST thing I’ve read lately, not by a long shot, but it was entertaining and kind of a breezy read.  I like the duo of Black Widow and Agent 13, and I loved the comedic and witty interplay instituted by Deconnick.  It’s a bit campy, a bit short, but overall a different flavor to the other books in the pile.  Natasha and Sharon Carter walk into a trap in order to rescue a girl from … um … some other girls.  Trained assassins.  Hi-jinks ensue.  Witty comebacks are delivered.  And Steve Rogers is stuck at a desk doing paperwork while the ladies are out there rather swiftly kicking some ass.  The art is a bit stylized and “sketchy” as opposed to “clean,” which worked for me.  Hmm.  I’ve decided I like this.  It’s a one-shot, and that’s enough.

Birds of Prey #11Birds of Prey #11
Written by Gail Simone
Illustrated by Pere Perez

*High-pitched voice* AWESOMENEEESSSSSSSSSSS!  I read this during my train commute in the ungodly hours of the morning, half groggy when I opened to the first page.  It quickly woke me up.  This story was not at all what I expected, particularly by the end.  One look at that front cover and you’re kind of sick from all the hearts, right?  But don’t judge a book—at least, THIS book—by its cover.  This is a one-issue story, and in it, Gail Simone crafts yet another tale of action peppered with comedy, a little bit of tenderness, and some seriously solid badassery (sans Hawk and Dove, which was admittedly a nice breather).  I’ll tell you what we have here:  a jewel heist.  A hostage.  A tense romance.  A full-grown man in a cat suit.  And, come the final pages, one seriously pissed off Huntress.  It shouldn’t need any more convincing than that.  PICK THIS UP!

Nonplayer #1Nonplayer #1
Written & Illustrated by Nate Simpson

Wow.  First of all, this was gorgeous.  Absolutely beautiful to look at—eye candy in a pure sense, rather than the usual cheesecake sense.  Do you ever read a comic where you’re stuck looking at the same page—same panel—for minutes on end, just to make sure you’ve caught all the details and intricacies?  That’s what this book was like.  I’d read a lot of hype online about this miniseries, and I was hooked on the “MMO” angle it sounded like it was going to take.  It’s actually so much more than that, though.  The story is set a world apart from the one we know, and it’s clear by the first issue that the gaming setting is going to be secondary to what’s really happening here.  The notion that this is Nate Simpson’s first comic work is surprising—his simple, direct writing and his artistic layouts are spectacular and echo the experience of someone who you’d think has been in the industry for a while.  Hopeful that the rest of the series continues this level of excellence.  The book is already on a second printing; definitely check this one out if you can get your hands on it.