Archive for japan

Oni Market #28: Kokuhaku (Confessions)

Posted in Oni Market with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 12, 2011 by speedxgrapher

Here we are again, not nearly as much time having elapsed from the last update as (what has ended up being the) usual. Whereas once I had the luxury (and, let us be honest, the drive) to update my blogs on a regular basis, especially this one, now I follow the “having something interesting to share” pattern. Thankfully, apparently such things have started emerging again (with the exception of the whole Japanese disaster, which has taken quite a bit of space here and for which I am NOT thankful), so it seems you will be seeing more of me (lucky you, heh).

At any rate, I have a couple of things lined up for you:

Item #1: I know I have posted the professed “Final Update” on this matter, but now that we know the things bought with the money raised from the charity event have reached their destination, we’ve really come full circle. Here is Hiromi Komatsu’s “thank you” mail:

Dear Olga

We’ve got all your presents at 2nd of this month. All of your stuff are fine, cute and with good sense of design. Some of them have been already taken for kids. Not only kids but also their parents seem happy with your stuff. I really thank you for this and kind words always.

I have a dream here, Olga.When people in my home town can live in peace and quiet some day, I’m sure to go to Greece. If I can meet you there, that would be fantastic.

Take care, Olga, and have fun with your family and friends! 🙂

Hiromi Komatsu

Item #2: Kokuhaku (Confessions). This is obviously the main subject of this post, a 2010 Japanese live-action movie (as in “traditional cinema”, not anime you bleedin’ otaku!), which I watched with some friends on DVD the other day. It was described as a “psychological thriller”, but Japanese live-action cinema being what it is (i.e. usually a disappointment), we did not really expect much. The short description said that a Middle School teacher, Yoko Moriguchi (played by Takako Matsu), has her life torn down, when her 4-year-old daughter is murdered by two of her students (aged 13, I think) and after she quits her job, she resolves to get revenge on them. Sounded fairly interesting, so we gave it a shot.

Let’s start with first impressions: great photography, great shooting and carefully picked music but the fact of the matter was, the first 15 minutes were dominated by Moriguchi’s near-monologue in front of her class (she was their homeroom teacher), as they mostly ignore her. However, the movie actually begins with them drinking little cartons of milk, as part of a government campaign (this is important for later). At first she goes on and on about  renowned Dr. Sakuranomiya, who was her inspiration as a whole and who sadly died of AIDS. Then she announces that she is going to retire because of her daughter’ s death, a murder in fact by two students in that very same classroom and goes as far as saying that she thinks she has been a bad teacher because she wanted to be devoted to her dingle parenting. Thus far, the speech being completely rehearsed and delivered in a droning, monotonous voice, evokes almost no reaction from a class of misconducting, bullying, text-messaging 13-year-olds and yawns from us.

Then, surely and steadily, Moriguchi ups the ante, saying that Sakuranomiya was her lover and once-future husband, that he gave her HIV and that they decided not to marry, in order to avoid stigmatizing their child. The reaction is almost instantaneous, as students shy away from her in panic, as if she is carrying the plague and freak at her merest touch. Various scenes make perfectly clear that, not only her students ignore basic facts about AIDS, but also many adults have complete and hysterical misconceptions on it. Further on, talking 0f her daughter’s murder, she mentions facts, referring to the perpetrators as students A and B, as well as the reactions of student B’s mother, who finds no fault with her son (naturally). She also says that the Juvenile Law part of the Japanese Criminal Justice System protects them from any actual prosecution, so they can walk away from this murder without any real consequences. At this point, the downward spiral begins, as Moriguchi is of course not satisfied with such leniency: therefore, the milk cartons of the two murderers, she informs them, were laced with her dead lover’s  HIV-infected blood! Gasps of horror from the class, round of applause from us.

From this point onward, there is not a dull moment in the movie, as we see the impact of these news on the two boys, as well as the reaction of their classmates (which is bullying, a lot of it!), which is a spiral of madness and hate. The movie is segmented as its title: confessions. So gradually, we get all the facts of the story from the viewpoint of each character, including, the teacher, the murderers, one of the two murderers’ mother, as well as the other’s girlfriend. Amazingly, it is both a mind and time trip, which largely revolves around Shuya Watanabe’ s (student A) mother complex and rejection issues, as well as his conviction that he is a genius (of which his mother, a brilliant mechanic, convinced him at a very young age, then abandoned him).

The whole movie is an elegy to the cruelty and stupidity of adolescence, the hubris of privileged youth (believe me, for all their problems, these kids had not had to fight for anything yet) and how, when taken too far, those who afford them this protection can utterly destroy them. It is also a disturbing look into Japan’s youth, much like REAL WORLD, where juvenile delinquency is glorified, a tendency represented by Mizuki Kitahara (who idolizes Lunacy Girl, a teen murderer who poisoned her parents and becomes the girlfriend of Shuya). Furthermore, the movie is not afraid to point the finger at the parents who are responsible for the delinquency of these children, whether by pampering or negligence and abuse, the two extremes represented by the two murderers’ mothers. In the end, they too will pay the ultimate price.

However, the story reigns in its theme and avoids the mistake of creating an all-around “hate film”. With the exception of Moriguchi’s daughter (a “background victim” to the movie ‘s action), everyone who is destroyed absolutely deserves it. In contrast, the replacement teacher of Moriguchi-sensei, nicknamed Werther (played by Masaki Okada), who is only guilty of being good-natured, naive and hopelessly optimistic, merely has his feelings hurt and Moriguchi-sensei herself is obviously left with nothing when her revenge is done, but not before she has completely taken apart the lives of the two young murderers, both metaphorically and actually, inflicting upon them the full extent of the loss she feels, without ever being caught – it’ s the essence of Nemesis, as the ancients called it, only set in modern-day Japan.

Even with all I have said, I have not gone into any terrible spoilers, for the way everything comes together and more so, the way everything is depicted, is the true treat of this movie. It has the careful plotting of a Sherlock Holmes mystery and the emotional impact of Greek tragedy, centered around the theme of vengeance. Just be patient for the first 15 minutes. It will all make sense in the end and it is totally worth it. The movie was based on the novel of Kanae Minato.

Item #3: Tatsumi: A Life in Animation. As I have said before, I have stopped watching anime for quite some time, but this is one I am willing to give a try. It deals with the real life, as well as the stories of post WWII manga creator Yoshihiro Tatsumi, one of the most “human” and iconic storytellers of manga. This goes beyond retro: it is history, treated by a modern medium.

Well, that is all for today and quite a bit, if I do say so myself. Keep reading. You never know what else I might dig up.

Peace,

Speedgrapher

Feel, Pray, Give [Support Japan Music Event] Final Update

Posted in Archive, Events with tags , , , , , , , on April 28, 2011 by speedxgrapher

Back again dear readers (wow, 3 posts in a week – that’ s scary; maybe we should do this charity thing more often, if for no other reason than forcing me to write here). This is indeed the final update on our (Bloody K., Kami, KrizD, Kyoshiro, N8 and yours truly) effort to provide some support for the people of Fukushima, struck by multiple calamities and still struggling with hardships and the danger of radioactivity.

It all started with an idea over coffee, the event took place on the 15th of April and just two short weeks later we were able to send our boxed prayers and support, with the help of everyone who chose to lend a hand in helping these people in need. Did we change the world? No. Did we turn the tide of this disaster? Surely not, but we did what we could , knowing that each person receiving help is one less person in dire need of it; and when every such gesture is added to the others, then perhaps change can be effected, hope restored, lives rebuilt. We are but a pebble and proud to count ourselves among every other pebble of support from around the world.

The clothes have shipped and are on their way to Fukushima as we speak.

It’ s been an interesting process, revealing how easily will turns into a way, as well as how unwillingness can be an insurmountable obstacle. If anything, it was a very edifying experience, illustrating not just the weight of words and images, but also the deeper meaning of one’ s presence or absence. Thank you all for your support – you know who you are.

Peace,

Speedgrapher

P.S. If you are interested in the full story, you can begin here, then read the two previous posts on this blog. Also, KrizD has posted more photos of the clothes’ shipping on his blog. All photos are courtesy of Kyoshiro.

Feel, Pray, Give [Support Japan Music Event] Update

Posted in Archive, Events with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 24, 2011 by speedxgrapher

Hello all. Just a quick update on the charity event. The clothes have been bought (for children aged 0-9) and we are now ready to send them out. Kyoshiro has contacted the relief group in charge of distributing them and will have them shipped on Tuesday. Below you will find our most recent contact with Hiromi Komatsu, as well as some pertinent information.

*   *   *

Hello, Ms Olga K.

I am Hiromi Komatsu who is in charge of a warehouse that goods to people in Iwaki should be in. First of all, I’d like to say that we really thank you for your kindness and concerns. Clothes for kids are acceptable. I’d like to ask you to do below if it’s possible.

(1) Boxes should be separate into three categories ; for babies, boys, girls.
(2) Lists of goods inside boxes in brief would be appreciated.
(3) Second hand clothes are also no problem only if they look fine.
(4) Please let us know how many boxes you will send before you ship them.

Our address is here.

to Komatsu
Iwaki branch of Nihon Univa Counter Crisis Team
c/o Kasano Insurance Company
Tabata 8, Kamiyada-cho, Jouban,
Iwaki-city, Fukushima 971-8131
Japan

or you can copy and paste below.

〒971-8131 福島県いわき市常磐上矢田町田端8
(株)カサノ特級保険内
日本ユニバ いわき支部 小松
Japan

We have a web site to show people our activities. Please check it out when you have spare time. It’s only in Japanese but there are many photos in there I hope that you could understand it.

We will definitely send your clothes to children in North-East Japan.

Thank you again, Ms Olga K., for your heart warming presents. 😀

*   *   *

Again, thank you all who attended or contributed to this effort and know that the people benefiting from it truly appreciate it.

Happy Easter Everyone,

Speedgrapher

Feel, Pray, Give [Support Japan Music Event] @ Da Sein (15/04/2011)

Posted in Archive, Events with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2011 by speedxgrapher

Been a while again… Lots of things going on and an absolutely bare minimum of time: MANGAIJIN ~memories~ came out via Blurb.com just in time for COMICDOM CON ATHENS 2011 (more on that in a future post), over the past two months I have written two new detective stories (“Culture Pop” and “The Gargoyle’s Song”), one set to come out in May and the other (probably) June, then there was COMICDOM CON, of course, as well as the lengthy reports that followed it.

That said, just a week after the convention, we got together with a couple of friends and hosted a charity music event for the victims of the recent earthquake, tsunami and danger of radioactive exposure from the reactor on Fukushima (where radiation levels have now reached those of the Chernobyl disaster, although the contamination is not as widespread).

The whole idea was first mentioned by Kyoshiro around a month ago and after a get-together, KrizD, N8, Bloody K. and myself were on board (as well as Kami, added later). Details on the event were posted on Facebook, a number of blogs, Anime.gr, communicated via posters, as well as a donation box, placed at the entrance of the Hellenic-American Union, over the three days of the comic book convention.

Although we encountered a number of problems at the beginning of the event, with a bit of obsessive compulsion, divine intervention and the presence of one Alexander Markezis, CFO of a corporation known only as “Tremere”, we were able to get the whole thing off the ground. I would like to take a moment and thank all of you who attended this very special event, thereby showing true affection for this country, whose culture we so cherish. Even at the outset, there were those who said that it was meaningless, that any amount we gathered would be insignificant in the face of the disaster, or by comparison to Japan’s economy. I said it then and I say it now: no amount of help is meaningless. No, it won’t save Japan, it won’t even be noticed by anyone other than those who receive the help, but, in this case they are all we care about, the only thing that matters. It is what we could do, so we did it. Pure and simple.

As we speak, the amount collected has been used to buy clothes for children in the struck areas, which will be then distributed via a local relief group in Fukushima. Again, thank you all for being there.

As for the event itself, our roster and succession at the decks was a bit wacky, with KrizD starting, followed by Kami, followed by myself and finally, our lovely freak, N8. We also had a small exhibition at Da Sein’s basement, comprised of photos from various areas struck by the three calamities, as well as art from all over the world, drawn in support of Japan. Furthermore, Kyoshiro selected some pieces from the blog Voices From Japan, which consist Tweets from and related to the situation in the country. I translated the texts into Greek and Kyoshiro was in charge of editing, printing and setting up our exhibits.

Although not at my best (far from it, in fact – three days of COMICDOM and the post-Con edit-binge stretched me to my absolute limit, which accounts for falling asleep at 19:00 this past Monday and waking at 06:30 on Tuesday), I did take some pictures at the event and so I shall cease my rant and leave you with these. Enjoy.

Yours in earnest,

Speedgrapher

P.S. You might notice I still use the nicknames from way back when. This probably won’t change, so learn to live with it.

Oni Market #27: Real World (by Natsuo Kirino)

Posted in Oni Market with tags , , , , , , , on March 7, 2011 by speedxgrapher

Wow, it’s been 3 months since I last wrote here and the viewing has predictably taken a dive. Not that I complain, mind you – there really are only so many times someone can look at the same pictures and articles over and over again and only so much time that they remain relevant. In part, my distancing from and disgruntlement with all things “J” in Greece is to be blamed for this prolonged absence and in part, the tasks needing completion “in the real world”, meaning outside of the internet and its particular brand of culture and interaction.

It is only fitting then, that today I am going to talk about a book called Real World, written by crime novelist Natsuo Kirino. It is very easy for people not living in Japan (or never even having gone there) to view the country where manga, anime, cosplay and Harajuku Style originated, through the prism that these hobbies afford (for, make no mistake, outside Japan, hobbies they indeed are). The reality of the matter is, Japan is comprised mainly of white collar workers, people slavering away in the anime and manga industry,  repressed and depressed teenagers  and a demographic from 16-25, who comprise the “freak” culture we so love to emulate here in the West, a skin that is usually shed on the 25th year, to join the working masses. Even most J-rockers, so highly idolized by girls and girly women, have other, common jobs to support their income. Furthermore, Japan has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, flirting around and at times reaching #4 (lowest place I could find being #7 in 2007, I think) in the course of the past decade.

Natsuo Kirino is painfully aware of all these and yet more disillusioning facts about her country, so she sets the scene, events and characters in a way that showcases the many skeletons in Japan’s social closet. The actual crime is – at least in my opinion – just a pretext to talk about the real, sad, gritty world of modern Japan. I am getting ahead of myself though, but I wanted to establish a baseline that explains the structure of the actual story, at least in part.

It all starts on a particularly searing Japanese Summer, when a student of K High School (I assume this stands for an actual school and avoids lawsuits) murders his mother with a baseball bat and turns fugitive. His neighbor, 17-year-old Toshi Yamanaka, hears the sound of breaking glass from next door and sees him leaving his home with a calm, near-stupefied smile on his face, as she makes for her cram class. Although she does wonder about the sound and her neighbor’s expression, the heat and prospect of the day’s work do not let her dwell on it too much. In the course of the book, we learn that the killer’s name is Ryo, but she and her friends basically call him “Worm”, because of his tall, lanky body and listless movements.

Real World.

After a number of pages detailing her outlook on life and her opinion of her three closest friends (each going by a different nickname, those being Teroki, the no-nonsense serious one, Yuzan the repressed, boyish lesbian still suffering from her mother’s death and Kirarin – after Kirarin Revolution – the happy-go-lucky, beautiful, self-prostituting one), Toshi finds herself crossing paths with the Worm once more, when he steals her bicycle and cell-phone while she is in cram school. This gives him access to her three friends’ numbers, setting off a chain of events bound to end in tragedy. The strange – to the outside observer – thing is that each of the four girls makes a conscious choice to have dealings with the Worm, whether by not giving him up to the police or even sleeping with him.

The book’s chapters each bear one of the five characters’ names and are narrated from their point of view, giving us access to their most intimate thoughts and personal worlds (which word could be easily substituted by “Hells”). None can truly accept who and what they are, trying on a number of masks and facades, thinking to hide themselves even from those closest to them, naturally ignoring the fact that they are not fooling anyone. However, humanity’s deafening silence, exacerbated in the Japanese urban setting, ensures that they never challenge each other, until they reach a breaking point. The Worm is the only exception, as his initial action has set him apart (at least as he perceives it) from the rest of society, so he finds himself freed from its bonds, yet shackled by the lack of structure it offers.

Most disturbing of all is the rampant idolization and apparent identification of his peers, not with him as a person, but as a welcome societal aberration: murdering his mother and the prospect of murdering his father has made him a symbol of freedom and independence. Sadder still Kirarin’s idea that a teenage murderer must be a really deep and interesting guy to date (in sharp contrast to her dull life and the pointless one-night stands in Shinjuku) and when he proves otherwise, an effective way to get back at the boyfriend she still cries over.

My one problem with this book was the fact that the murder was only a pretext: there was no mystery, not even a real fugitive-type story. In that sense, it was completely off mark from what I expected. Its essence was rather that, even faced with the profound event of knowing and/or socializing with a murderer, Japanese teenagers feel too old to trust in their parents’ wisdom of age (which parents, truth be told, have very little rapport with the reality of their children) and yet their naiveté on the implications of events happening outside the norm of their (granted, distorted) teenage lives, borders on idiocy. They are born to and bred for schizophrenia, a fact which was interesting to look at from the viewpoint of a woman living in modern-day Japan.

So I guess the verdict, for something totally different than what I expected, is favorable and next I will be trying her other translated book, Out, which was nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe Award and seems more geared towards blood and grit. Both have been translated in English and Greek (Greek editions by Metaichmio Publications). It is highly recommended for anyone who wants a taste of real Japan, but not really for anyone looking to read a good detective story.

See you around,

Speedgrapher

P.S. In a number of instances, the book refers to Seito Sakakibara (mainly as the Worm identifies his own, post-murder societal condition with Sakakibara’s), also known as the Kobe killer. Sakakibara was the alias given to then (1997) 14-year-old Shinichiro Azuma, who bludgeoned a 10-year old girl to death with a hammer,  then killed and decapitated an 11-year-old boy, leaving his head at the boy’s school’s gate, stuffed with a taunting message to the police. Sakakibara was in fact released on parole 7 years later, under peculiar legal circumstances and there have been a number of sightings over the years, often weird and controversial. You can read more here and here, but what I find most interesting is the fact that he blamed the Japanese school system for his actions, as well as that, people commenting on his actions, believe that may very well be so.

Speedy-san, Speedy-san, Wherever Are You Now?

Posted in Errata with tags , , , , , , on November 10, 2010 by speedxgrapher

Wow it’s been… what, six months now? I think that’s accurate, almost to the day (well, minus 2 days). In those 6 months I have not gone to any of the Asian-oriented parties  (and I say “Asian” since Korea seems to be the new craze), I have not taken any cosplay pictures and – evidently – I have not blogged anything over here. Last time I hailed you dear readers from the depths of my proverbial hole, it was about CHORISSU, the fanzine we put out with Umi & Sora during last year’s COMICDOM CON. It was an announcement of where it would be available post-Con, as well as a poll for the possibility of a next issue and its contents. Although feedback was positive, it was also very limited (only 26 people).

Let’s deviate a bit here and talk a bit more about CHORISSU: bottom line, it did not go well, despite what I was hoping for, given its run at the Con. We may have sold a couple hundred copies overall (I can’t be actually sure – I have lost track of the thing), but all the verbal feedback I got from comic shops, as well as some friends who have been in the fanzine scene far longer and far more regularly than I (not to mention some friends who work in graphic design), led me to one simple conclusion: we tanked it. There is no point in elaborating on the (varied) flaws and mistakes but suffice to say, the end result of the fanzine’s run got the team… disheartened – silently and discreetly perhaps (for the most part) but disheartened nonetheless. Although I did “lobby” for a second issue, which would incorporate some major changes and not repeat the majority of the mistakes, it never got off the e-talks and I sincerely doubt it will, anymore…

Now, given the facts described above, as well as Umi & Sora being on hold (for, as Kyoshiro had wisely predicted, real life will catch up sooner or later – two are outside the country on Erasmus programs, two are swamped with their studies and at least three with work), it should come as no surprise that I have been absent from this blog for so long. As for the so-called “J-scene”? Well, things are going as I feared they would – good cosplays are very few and far between (although Salonika seems to still resist – bless you Cassiel!), exhibitionism is now the main “theme” and worst of all (?), the new trend is Korean Pop (K-Pop) and soon, it seems, all-things-Korea (though I doubt it will last that long, since K-fans in Greece are a minority within the minority of J-fans) . I will be the first to say that most of J-Pop, especially the one I cannot associate with any anime, is more than a little annoying, but K-Pop is barely music at all and almost exclusively boy-band oriented. Sorry, no thanks – I couldn’t stand Backstreet Boys even as far back as junior high. Finally, all the varied teams that were popping left and right (which, in my opinion, were a good thing) have all but vanished. Over the last 7 months, the only event outside of Athens or Salonika proper was one organized in May, at Kerkyra’s Corfu – and then there was silence.

Where does that leave Otaku Lens then? Truth is, I am not sure. A couple of days ago I had a discussion with a friend over the net and she pointed out that Otaku Lens was not just about the parties, but also a number of other things related to modern Japanese culture. That much is true, I guess, with things filed under Oni Market and Nihon no Weirdness but one cannot deny that the main driving force was my love for what I hoped was growing in Greece and the documenting of it. Sadder still, over the past 6 months I have not found anything much to my liking in either the manga or anime departments…

Now, I imagine that the negativity fostered by what I see here in Greece affects my judgment, but there are some other factors to consider: for one, the translation industry of manga in English is waning, with ever fewer (and appallingly similar) things being solicited by American companies (just take a look at the DIAMOND PREVIEWS CATALOG and you’ll get the idea). I can’t find anything I have not already read in another title. As for anime, well, the disappointment is even worse: apart from re-issues of older series (we are talking torrent-wise here, which reflects the actual industry), I have found just two things which somewhat drew my interest, one being DANCE IN THE VAMPIRE BUND, which is nothing terribly special, just well-executed and AOI BUNGAKU, which takes classic Japanese literature (such as KOKORO) and re-interprets it in a more sinister light, which I have not yet watched. As for what is considered widely popular, it’s a complete nightmare: HIGH-SCHOOL OF THE DEAD. Boobs with a mind of their own, swords, guns and, well, zombies. I find zombie movies idiotic to begin with (except a few classics, such as ARMY OF DARKNESS and a funny one, SHAUN OF THE DEAD), zombie anime full of fan-service and devoid of scenario, don’t get me started…

So, again, I ask (probably just myself): where does that leave Otaku Lens? Still no idea but my intelligent friend (not to mention she is cute as a sugar-cane) has got me thinking and maybe the results of the process will be made available to you all. Only time will tell…

Until Yamato flies again,

Speedgrapher

(Bent-out of) Shape of Things to Come

Posted in Errata, Events with tags , , , , , on May 16, 2010 by speedxgrapher

I think we are rapidly reaching, if we have not already reached, the lowest point concerning otaku culture in Greece (well, to be fair, in Athens). Now, before I explain how I have reached this seemingly dire-sounding conclusion, let’s rewind just a little: as you have obviously noticed, I don’t come to the parties anymore, not even occasionally (with the exception of Sakura Syndrome’s last, where I remained for all of half an hour – and then again only because I was in the neighborhood). Some of the reasons are already known and have been analyzed at some length (both here and inside CHORISSU). A couple of days back, I met some people who frequent the parties and one asked me why I never come by any more. My answer was that, besides all else, I am bored to death: the parties have reached a point where they are an endless repetition (the Harajuku Street Party being the only recent exception) of music, of things that happen, of highs and especially lows, with the whole affair having turned into a noisome, kindergarden cosplay catwalk. At least, until recently, there was the ingenuity, care and variation which characterized a great number of said cosplays.

Until recently…  Although I don’t show up, I keep myself informed and I browse through the pictures that people upload in a number of places on the internet.  Before moving on, let me state clearly that I will not name people, exceptions or whatnot: I don’t know if it’s the fault of the people taking the pictures or of the people featured within them, but there has been a steady decline in the visual value of the parties which, in my opinion, hit rock bottom at the J-Horror event. The (vast majority of) the cosplays I saw in the pictures were so badly made, so mismatched and ill-presented (simply, if harshly put, so ridiculous and ugly), that they do not even measure up to the very first cosplays at KABATZA. Note that, of course, this opinion is based on the pictures I saw, which made my eyes bleed (again, I have no way of knowing if this is the fault of the pictures themselves or their subjects).

Take a breath, let it sink in…

I realize you will probably hate me for this opinion, maybe even stop reading this blog altogether. Some who can keep a more cool head, may reason that perhaps this was the case in a single party or perhaps that I have not seen enough material. Could be: nothing’ s impossible – merely improbable. If you really believe so, retrace your steps in time with the photographic material that’s been posted all over the place (including here) and I am sure you will notice how the majority of cosplayers change for the worst, whereas a few exceptions not only give it their all, but raise to even greater levels. However, they really are isles in the ocean and I cannot help but believe that when they are fed up, they will just stop.

Now, you may ask, point out, accuse or whatever else fits as a reaction – certainly enraged and outraged – that “Who are you to talk? You never cosplay! Do you know how difficult… blah-blah-blah”. I never said (and in fact, neither did anyone else) that you MUST cosplay just for the fuck of it and “shame on you for not doing it right”. I don’t cosplay because I am not good at it and more importantly, I am not built for it. The anime / manga / game characters for which I could plausibly pass can be counted on one hand, if even that. You must simply realize that, sometimes, it’s OK not to cosplay, if you won’t (or can’t – no shame there either) put your mind and heart into it. It won’t be the end of the world… It’s certainly better that turning what used to be something creative and fun into a “pat-me-in-the-back” freakshow.

What I see, is something that I used to love, turned into a dying trend and if it doesn’t do itself a favor and die out, in its current form it’ s simply too ridiculous to be worth the effort. Therefore, I will not be posting any more party announcements (as I did not post the Akai Panda Anniversary), until I feel there’s something to it again. Of course, it’s entirely possible that there won’t be something to it again… Mind you, this is not some kind of threat, condition, whatever – I have been updating the blog only sporadically and really, it’s not like my decision will affect your lives in any significant way (if it does, however, I am honored that you think – or have thought until now – so highly of me). There’s still photographic material in my backlogs, as well as other Japan-related things that I intend to post, when I have the time. I am simply releasing myself form the self-imposed obligation to be consistently up to speed with the various J-parties and giving you some food for thought.

Whether you chew on it or not, is your decision.

Speedgrapher out.

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