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Con Report: San Japan: Samurai 7
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Lord Hobbitsfork   |  
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Dealers Room San Japan 7

I’m a strange duck when it comes to anime conventions. I’m not into panels or cosplay competition, but I love the colorful sea of fans, the dealers’ room, artists’ alley, and of course, the anime, which is why I really go to anime conventions in the first place. Sure, I can always watch anime on my own, and I frequently do – and there’s plenty of online streaming content that makes that task even easier now – but there’s still something about enjoying a well-animated drama or comedy in a room full of people who are into the same stuff that you’re into that you can’t experience on your own.

That’s why, when I knew back in April that I was coming back to San Antonio this summer, I went online and bought a ticket for San Japan: Samurai 7 at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center.

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Con Report: The San Japan x Nine-Tails Mini-Mini Con 2014
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Lord Hobbitsfork   |  
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San Japan x Nine-Tails Mini-Mini Con

The San Japan x Nine-Tails Mini-Mini Con
Where: Wonderland of the Americas Mall, San Antonio, Texas
When: Saturday, June 14th, 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

It was a hot humid San Antonio day outside, but it was a different matter in the air-conditioned confines of the Wonderland of the Americas Mall in San Antonio, TX this weekend. Nine-Tails, a unique anime and J-Pop culture shop set up in 2010 by co-owners Justin and Nati, in conjunction with San Japan, a local fan-run organization, held a “mini-mini con” for fans of anime, manga, and cosplay to come out, show their support for the upcoming San Japan: Samurai 7 anime convention, and pre-register for the main event coming in July at the HBG Convention Center in downtown San Antonio.

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Anime Review: Chaika: The Coffin Princess
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Lord Hobbitsfork   |  
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Chaika: The Coffin Princess

Chaika: The Coffin Princess
Directed by Soichi Masui
Produced by BONES, Kadokawa Pictures
Voice cast: Chika Anzai, Junji Majima, Yuko Hara, Chiwa Saito, Iori Nomizu, Kazutomi Yamamoto, Kenzuka Satou, Saeko Zogo, Shuta Morishima, Yoshimasa Hosoya, Yumeha Koda, Takaya Hashi, Yui Makino.
Air dates: Streaming Wednesdays at 1:00 p.m. CDT on Crunchyroll

Let’s say your father died a violent death and his killers had scattered his body parts all over the world, and you were on a quest to gather his remains together in order to give him a proper funeral. Now, let’s say you don’t remember much of what happened up until your father’s death, but everyone is saying he was an evil magical emperor who was utterly defeated in a world war, and a corps of warriors is chasing you, bent on preventing his remains from being gathered together again. One more complication: Let’s just say you’re not the only offspring of the late emperor with the same aim in mind. It seems that everyone in the world is against you, except for two saboteurs and a dragon that hides in the guises of a little girl and a cat. That’s the set up for Chaika: The Coffin Princess, now currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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Anime Review: No Game, No Life
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Lord Hobbitsfork   |  
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no-game-no-life-anime

No Game, No Life
Directed by Atsuko Ishizuka
Based on the Light Novel Series by Yuu Kamiya
Produced by Madhouse, Media Factory
Voice cast: Ai Kayano, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, Mamiko Noto, Mugihito, Naomi Shindo, Rie Kugimiya, Risa Taneda, Yoko Hikasa, Yuka Iguchi, Yukari Tamura.
Air dates: Streaming Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. CDT on Crunchyroll

Slacker. Ne’er-do-well. Non-conformist. Hippie. Hermit. Otaku. NEET. Hikikomori. Societies all around the world have come up with a wide range of names to describe people who have decided, for whatever reason, to drop out of the mainstream of society. Usually, there’s a lot of social stigma attached to the label, and the people who have to endure these labels seldom feel welcome in their respective cultures. Sometimes, the desire to get away from everyone and everything can be a very powerful thing. And that’s partly the motivation for a pair of gamer siblings in No Game, No Life, a series directed by Atsuko Ishizuka that is now streaming Wednesday mornings on Crunchyroll.

No Game, No Life tells the story of a brother-and-sister duo of gamers who have devoted so much of their lives to gaming together that they have become an urban legend, known only as [ ] (literally “kuhaku,” or “blank space”) with a reputation of never having lost a single game out of thousands of sessions across 280 or more different games. The pair is actually siblings Sora, 18, and his 11-year-old sister, Shiro, who are both NEETS (short for Not in Education, Employment, or Training) and are also Hikikomoris, or shut-ins.

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Anime Review: The Irregular At Magic High School
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Lord Hobbitsfork   |  
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irregular-at-magic-high-school-anime
The Irregular at Magic High School (Mahoka Koukou no Rettosai)
Directed by Manabu Ono
Based on Light Novel Series by Tsutomo Sato
Produced by Madhouse, Aniplex
Voice cast: Saori Hayami, Yuuichi Nakamura, Yumi Uchiyama, Ryouhei Kimura.
Air dates: Streaming Saturdays at 1 p.m. CDT on Crunchyroll

In my experience in the world of academia, the two times of the academic year that are the most stressful for students and instructors alike are its beginning and end. It’s particularly stressful for students who are either entering an institution for the first time or are transferring from another school. Beside the usual difficulties, there is also the challenge of navigating the sometimes-treacherous waters of whatever social hierarchies exist in an academic environment.

Now imagine dealing with all that in a school full of magic users in a world in which magic has been systematized into an actual arm of technology. Such is the setting of The Irregular at Magic High School, or Mahou Koukou no Rettosai, now streaming on Crunchyroll.

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Anime Review: Captain Earth
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Lord Hobbitsfork   |  
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captain-earth-anime

Captain Earth
Directed by Takuya Igarashi
Mechanical Design by Shinji Aramaki, Takeshi Takakura, Takeyuki Yanase
Produced by Bones, Shochiku
Voice cast: Miyu Irino, Hiroshi Kamiya, Kenichi Suzumura, Maaya Sakamoto, Rikiya Koyama, Rina Hidaka
Air dates: Streaming Saturdays at 1:00 PM CDT on Crunchyroll

The Giant Robot is another venerable trope that’s consistently run through the medium of Japanese animation for at least the past half-century. Starting with Tetsujin 28-go in the 1960s through Mazinger-Z, Macross, Gundam, Patlabor, Evangelion, and so many others, it seems that the concept of large metallic beings with super-sized fists ready to kick ass and take names is one that shows no sign of losing its legs anytime soon.

Case in point: Captain Earth. The storyline begins straightforwardly enough with, almost as a matter of course, the stereotypical high school sophomore. Daichi Manatsu (voiced by Miyu Irino) lives away from his family who live on Tanegashima Island, where his father died in a space accident when he was a child.

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Anime Review: The Comic Artist and His Assistants
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Lord Hobbitsfork   |  
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comic-artist-and-assistants-anime

The Comic Artist and His Assistants
Directed by Takeshi Furuta
Produced by Zexcs, Showgate
Voice cast: Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, Saori Hayami, Arisa Noto, Yuka Iguchi
Air dates: Streaming Mondays at 12:05 p.m. CDT on Crunchyroll

Ah, the venerable harem anime. How many ways can you write about one lucky guy and the bevy of beautiful women who eventually come to either his rescue or ruin? I’ve been seeing one version or another of this genre played out since Rumiko Takahashi’s Lum: Urusei Yatsura and the original Tenchi: Muyou and El Hazard OVA series.

But I digress with this mini history lesson: The point I’m making is that the harem anime is a genre with long legs, usually deliberately portrayed in one revealing manner or another. How then does an old-school otaku like me address new titles in this genre without a jaded eye? It’s not easy, but I’ll try.

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Book Review: Anime
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Lord Hobbitsfork   |  
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Anime by Colin Odell & Michelle Le Blanc, Kamera BooksAnime
Paperback | Kindle Edition
Written by Colin Odell & Michelle Le Blanc
Kamera Books
Release Date: April 1, 2014
Cover Price: $24.95

Okay, two confessions: First, and if you’ve read my reviews before, you probably already know this, but, I’m an unabashed anime fan. Second, and this may not be as apparent to you as a reader, but I’m also a history freak. It almost doesn’t matter what kind of history it is, as long as it deals honestly with the subject matter and I come away with new knowledge and insights that I didn’t have on the subject before, I’m in. So, being both a fan of anime and history, that means that any book that deals in the history of anime is going to catch my attention; but having been a fan of anime for nearly twenty-two years, that also means that I have high standards for what that book has to say about the matter.

That’s why I’m so excited about this new book, Anime, co-written by authors Colin Odell and Michelle Le Blanc. It’s a short read – only about 148 pages in all – but it has the distinction of being a history book that is both entertaining to read and also highly informative. Ever wonder what the very first OVA was? A hint for beginners: It wasn’t Tenchi Muyou. This book will tell you. When was Studio Madhouse first started, and what name did Gainax go by before they called themselves Gainax? Read and find out.

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Anime Review: Love, Chunibyo, and Other Delusions – Heart Throb
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Lord Hobbitsfork   |  
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Love, Chunibyo, and Other Delusions

Love, Chunibyo, and Other Delusions – Heart Throb
Directed by: Tatsuya Ishihara
Produced by: Eharu Oohashi, Shigeru Saitō, Shinichi Nakamura

Voice cast: Jun Fukuyama, Maaya Uchida, Azumi Asakura, Chinatsu Akasaki, Eri Sendai, Kaori Fukuhara, Kikuko Inoue, Mami Shitara, Souichiro Hoshi, Sumire Uesaka, Yuri Amano.
Publisher: TBS
Air dates: Streaming Thursdays at 11PM CST on Crunchyroll

Did you ever wonder what it is that makes us geeks? Just what is it that makes us different from the madding crowds, the “silent majority” who think of our obsessions with everything from fantasy and science fiction to cosplay and anime as weird, juvenile, immature, or downright evil? Perhaps it’s that child-like sense of wonder and imagination that we’ve never lost, that ability to put ourselves into the shoes of the heroes and heroines we read about or see in our favorite films and shows that sets us apart.

In the series Love, Chunibyo, and Other Delusions, also known as Chuunibyou demo koi ga Shitai, directed by Tatsuya Ishihara, we meet a group of Japanese students trying to come to grips with their essential geekiness and the embarrassment and social stigma often associated with geekdom in Japanese society.

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Anime Review: Wooser’s Hand-to-Mouth Life
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Lord Hobbitsfork   |  
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woosers-hand-to-mouth-life

Wooser’s Hand-to-Mouth Life
Directed by Sayo Yamamoto, Toyonori Yamada
Produced by Akira Sasaki, Takehiro Yoshida, Yoshiki Usa
Voice cast: Haruka Nagamune, Mamoru Miyano, Minori Ozawa, Tia, Yuri Sato
Air dates: Streaming Tuesdays at 1 PM CST on Crunchyroll

You have to have a love of the truly absurd to appreciate Wooser’s Hand-to-Mouth Life. If you haven’t the stomach for non-sequitur humor, rapid-fire stream-of-consciousness storytelling, or tongue-in-cheek references to all sorts of anime and cultural memes, you’ll be lost in the first three-to-four-minute episode, and you won’t have enough breadcrumbs to get home. So you’ve been warned. Leave while you can.

Still there? Then read on. Wooser is a cute animal thing with button eyes, a button nose and big floppy ears who is known for such rhetorical gems as “There’s nothing as good as food someone else is paying for,” and ”my favorite things are meat, money, and girls.” He’s stuck on the couch, is a lout, a pervert, a ne’er-do-well, and yet, he somehow enjoys the constant company of four cute girls along with a darker version of himself known as Darth Wooser, a raccoon, and some birdlike creature that has no name, but is often spotted in Wooser’s company. Weird enough for you, yet?

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