Archive for Umi & Sora

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

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Cosplay & Maid Café @ fnac – The Mall Athens (22 – 24/10/2009) – Day 2: Part 2 – Goshujin-sama!

Posted in Akai Panda, Umi & Sora with tags , , , , , , on October 30, 2009 by speedxgrapher

OK, admittedly the title is a bit of a Shinkansen in size, but I try to be as accurate as I can. This post continues where the Very Early Edition left off, which is to say, right at the moment when the Maid Café of the second day opened its doors (well, curtains) to the  astounded visitors. As it turned out, the day I was most worried about (which worry I kept to myself), for a number of reasons (somewhat alienating for otaku to see maids in the flesh, fear of getting arrested for having so many and so sexy girls on public display and a number of other, weirder things), had the most impressive net attendance of the three days (remember, Day 3 was 8 hours versus the 3 hours of Day 2), somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 people.

When we first opened shop, it was very funny seeing the reaction of bystanders, from both inside our community and out, as was watching them trying to work the courage to enter the café and / or talk to the maids. I suppose quite a few girls looked doe-eyed at the butlers too, but their reactions were not as impressive (with the exception of realizing that one of the butlers was Marilou-chan).

Before going any further, some acknowledgments are in order: to Samuryan for going through Traffick Hell in order to help us with a number of things, such as materials, transport and ice, to Estorial for pimping out the electronics in the DJ booth, so that we could mix songs from the second day onwards and to Malvaggia for lending the Maid & Butler team a much needed hand of help. Last but not least, great praise goes to the team itself, who probably spent 3 of the most difficult hours (more in fact, since they had to come earlier, get ready, etc.) of their lives, fun though they may have been and were quite terminally beat by the time we closed.

As for me, well, I believe I have never before been that exposed to lenses of all sorts, the result of which exposure I have seen crawling around the net: well, so be it. I still think I come out horrible in most pictures but the Neko hat and RayBans DID help (once again, thanks to Nerethil and Samuryan respectively). Enough babble though. We all know why you’re here, so have at it!

I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did and look forward to the tons of material still in the works.

Over and out,

Speedgrapher

Cosplay & Maid Café @ fnac – The Mall Athens (22 – 24/10/2009) – Cinemascope #2

Posted in Akai Panda, Umi & Sora with tags , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2009 by speedxgrapher

Yup, the otaku community has really been boiling over with excitement over the 3-day event and material keeps piling up – even I am having a bit of trouble keeping up with you people. Stop whining: I know you are eager to see more pictures from Days 2 and 3 (Day 1 was covered in full on that very same night) and you WILL. TODAY. In fact I am posting the second batch from Day 2 in a couple of hours, so hold on to your collective underwear a bit longer. Meanwhile, Vegetasmate has provided us with more hilarious videos from all 3 days of the event, so I am also collecting them here for easy access. Here goes:

Day 1: Haruhi Dance (I think).

Day 2: Maid Madness and Assorted Chaos (this one also features myself, disturbingly, as well as a cameo of Kyoshiro).

Day 3: Otaku Break (a few of our friends taking a break and calling names).

Thank you Vege-chan! Can’t waiti to get to your Rika Furude photos. *ahem*

More in a little while people,

Speedgrapher

Cosplay & Maid Café @ fnac – The Mall Athens (22 – 24/10/2009) – Cinemascope #1

Posted in Akai Panda, Umi & Sora with tags , , , , , , on October 26, 2009 by speedxgrapher

Hello once more and yes, I know you are all still trying to reset your brains after the 3-day event (I know I am). I have not had time yo edit enough photos yet, but I have scoured a number of great videos from people who attended the event and so I am posting them here collectively for easy access. Just a bit more patience…

So then, two from our lovely Vegetasmate

…and my personal favorite from Ramone.

A million laughs, methinks.

Talk to you again real soon,

Speedgrapher

Cosplay & Maid Café @ fnac – The Mall Athens (22 – 24/10/2009) – Day 3 [Sleepy Edition]

Posted in Akai Panda, Umi & Sora with tags , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2009 by speedxgrapher

There it goes… It’s come and gone and it was great and Day 3 was chock full of great cosplays, great company, great and fun people. Well done, one and all, for now we have taken a huge step forward and probably opened a very interesting door. I believe that in the coming weeks and months there will be many discussions, as there will be a multitude of posts to cover all that was seen and all that’s happened. Day 3 was predictably the most crowded, although the attendance was comfortably divided over the 8 hours before the screening of Rurounin Kenshin: Requiem for Patriots (where more than 100 people attended as well). I believe it is safe to say that over the 3 days we reached the 1000 mark in total.

As I am incredibly sleepy and unable to take the necessary steps in order to post photos, I am leaving you with one of the most heartwarming images and the best conclusion anyone could hope for in this event. Needless to say, Days 2 and 3 have tons of material to be posted still, so look forward to it (I will do my best to rush it).

Enjoy and good night,

Speedgrapher

Cosplay & Maid Café @ fnac – The Mall Athens (22 – 24/10/2009) – Day 2 [Very Early Edition]

Posted in Akai Panda, Umi & Sora with tags , , , , , , , on October 23, 2009 by speedxgrapher

Hellooo again: the Mallcat [sic, “Mallrats”] is back with a VERY early and VERY special update for you all. First off though a FRIGGIN’ HUGE “thank you” to each and every one of you who attended: you went beyond our wildest dreams; I did not have the time to make a proper count, but I think you easily crossed the 300 mark overall. You have made this whole effort more than worthwhile and even a little scary concerning Saturday’s prospects: we will do our best and hope to be up to the challenge. Secondly, a personal deep bow to the team of maids and butlers who worked their asses off tonight, to the point of exhaustion. I may have been running around for about 3 hours and taking pictures, but it does not nearly compare: I salute you.

Given the number of photos taken today (which is 244, of which I will probably keep the usual 70%), I must abandon my quest for day-to-day full updates, but I DO want to give you a taste of the day, early on, by posting the pre-opening shoot, as well as a picture of our most hardcore fan. Enjoy!

Hope you liked it so far and I hope you have energy saved for the long haul tomorrow. Also, get ready because Saturday (that is, today in a few hours) I am back on the decks!

Cheerio,

Speedgrapher

P.S. For RPG fans: I am going to need the Gutwrench Brew of the Pwent Dwarf family to survive tomorrow. Not recommended for those with low Constitution.

Cosplay & Maid Café @ fnac – The Mall Athens (22 – 24/10/2009) – Day 1 [Early Edition]

Posted in Akai Panda, Umi & Sora with tags , , , , , , , on October 23, 2009 by speedxgrapher

Hello, hellooo my good people! Looong time no see yet again and yes, I know that I still owe you reports from two parties BUT, given the very special circumstances surrounding this particular event, I will be trying to do a day-to-day report (well, Day 3 will be rather hard but I am trying my best) ahead of those previous two. First off, let me thank and congratulate all of you who attended on the very first and rather tricky day (most people either work or have schools and universities to go to on Friday morning). For the record, we expected about 100 of you on Thursday and yet, at least 200 showed up in total, making our 1st Day a GREAT opening. Secondly, following that previous note, we apologize for the lack of space and the need to rotate the people who sit down, but that is all the space we have (this time around) and we want everyone, if possible, to experience the Café as it should be.

Secondly, as I read in the corresponding thread of Anime.gr, many of those who did not manage to show up wanted to have a good inside look of what took place, so given this is the J-community’s first widely public and publicized event, consider this post a token of gratitude towards those who have given the shining example and attracted positive curiosity from “outsiders”, as well as everyone else who has been reading this blog despite its schedule inconsistencies.

On to the party then: we started only a little off-schedule (around 10 minutes), with people already waiting outside. However, once the curtain was drawn, it was a wonderful, colorful atmosphere, full of discussion, cheer, laughter and tons of photos, surprisingly not so much from me this time, but Neuro, Zalismeno Koutopoulo who posted the first ones (applause and well done!), Constantina and Peter from fnac (huge thanks for all the help and patience – you are both great!), as well as other people who, umm… I don’t actually know. In point of fact, there were many people I did not know yesterday and some I had not seen for some time, so that makes me wonder what is going to happen on Saturday… Well, we’ll worry about that when it’s time.

As for the photos you will see below, let me apologize in advance for their rather not-up-to-standard quality, but I was on DJ duty yesterday, which means I was secluded inside a 1 meter x 1 meter box, which has high, red glass panes to boot (remember, I AM rather short)! Therefore my frames were waaaay less than perfect and as if that wasn’t enough, soon the battery started failing. At any rate, I have done my best to fix anything I could and give you a taste of Thursday’s opening. Tonight I am not DJing at all, so be prepared to be mercilessly stalked!

Enough of my banter then and on to the photos! There may be several names missing or possibly fewer captions than usual. I hope that, with your help, those can be edited at a later time.

In case you were wondering about the playlist, there wasn’t one: I just played tons of anime themes from way back when, the opening from Speedgrapher (of course), An Cafe’s “Aroma” , as well as two songs from Pinky Doodle Poodle’s new maxi single, “1,2,3, GO!”.

Gotta get to the event now, see you later,

Speedgrapher

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