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Con Report: San Japan 8-Bit | San Antonio, TX
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Lord Hobbitsfork   |  
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San-japan-8-bit-dealers-room

Con Report: San Japan: 8-Bit
Where: The Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center/Grand Hyatt Hotel,
San Antonio, Texas
When: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, July 31st through August 2nd, 2015

As I reported last year, I’m a bit of a strange duck when it comes to anime conventions. I’ve never been into the panels or cosplay competitions, although I have a lot of respect for the people who put so much time and effort into their outfits, and in traveling the convention circuit. I especially had respect for the cosplayers and guests who were in San Antonio, braving the 99° late July and early August heat at San Japan: 8-bit, at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center. I’m always looking for two things at an anime convention: The overall feel of the con, and of course, the opportunity to sit back in a room with a bunch of fellow otaku and soak up some anime. I’m happy to say that this con didn’t disappoint.

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Comic Review: Masamune Shirow’s Orion
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Orion 4th edition

Masamune Shirow’s Orion
Trade Paperback | Kindle Edition
Story and Illustrations by Masamune Shirow
Translation by Frederick Schodt and Toren Smith (Studio Proteus)
Lettering by Tom Orzechowski, Molly Kiely, Susie Lee (Studio Proteus)
Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: 2008 (4th Edition)
Cover Price: $17.95

Picture in your mind a universe in which magic and science are one and the same, in which interstellar travel is accomplished with incantations through the art of “psycho-science;” where power is measured in terms of “psychs.” In the Yamata People’s Empire, a strange mix of Tantric Buddhism, Shinto mythology, Cthulhu mythos and varied Eastern philosophies combine into one.

The empire, an offshoot of the Greater Galactic Empire in the Orion galaxy, is about to embark upon its greatest feat: Collecting, gathering, and destroying all of the negative karma in the galaxy. Welcome to the wacky, mind-blowing narrative that is Masamune Shirow’s Orion.

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Anime Review: Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma
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Food Wars

Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma
Original creator: Shun Saeki (art), Yuto Tsukuda (story)
Directed by: Yoshitomo Yonetari
Character Design by: Tomoyuki Shitaya
Produced by: J.C. Staff, Showgate
Voice cast: Minami Takahashi, Risa Taneda, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, Takahiro Sakurai
Air dates: Fridays at 2:25 p.m. CDT on Crunchyroll

Food and sex. People have an endless fascination all over the world with both, and why not? They’re inextricably linked with our most basic drives, survival and procreation. The late Japanese director Juzo Itami poked fun at both in his landmark comedy, Tampopo, and who, of course, hasn’t seen 9 ½ Weeks? Now think of those themes in a fighting high school anime setting, and you’re ready for Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma. Actually, I may be overstating the case a little on the sex aspect of the show, but I got your attention, didn’t I?

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Manga Review: Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind
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Nausicaa Of The Valley Of The Wind review

Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind
Story and Illustrations by Hayao Miyazaki
Translation by David Lewis & Toren Smith
Lettering & Retouch by Tom Orzechowski
Viz Media
Release Date: November 6, 2012 (Hardcover, Box Set)

Tackling a review of the manga version of Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind is an ambitious undertaking for any writer, but especially this one, given my love of Hayao Miyazaki‘s entire catalogue, especially his lesser-known efforts as a mangaka. The manga’s storyline is a lot more complex than that presented in the feature-length film version. The characters are deeper and Miyazaki is allowed to give full rein to the themes that are a constant in all of his films.

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Anime Review: Comical Psychosomatic Medicine
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comical psycho_medicine_horizontal

Comical Psychosomatic Medicine
Original creator: So, Yu Yuki
Directed by: Hirofumi Ogura
Character Design by: Miki Ishino
Produced by: PONY CANYON Inc.
Voice cast: Shinichiro Miki, Yurika Endo, Kenichi Ogata, Maaya Uchida, Yoko Hikasa
Air dates: Thursdays at 4pm CDT on Crunchyroll

Educational. Informative. Funny as hell. What? Yes, you read that correctly. Educational television was never like this. Comical Psychosomatic Medicine, or Anime de Wakaru Shinryonaika, is a joyous romp through the world of mental disorders, from erectile dysfunction and voyeurism to panic attacks and anxiety disorder. At the Yuu Mental Clinic, psychologist Ryou Shinnai and staff nurse Asuna Kangoshi tackle a variety of mental disorders. Asuna generally plays comic foil to Dr. Shinnai’s attempts to explain the various maladies, and of course, things get out of hand with puns on terms such as “cognitive impairment” (Asuna pictures her grandfather surrounded by girls trying to get him to admit he’s the father of their children) and “rem sleep” (Asuna imagines “harem sleep” with her granddad dreaming about being surrounded by a harem of girls).

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Anime Review: I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying
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I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying Landscape

I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying: 2nd Thread
Original creator: Cool-Kyo Shinja (manga published by Ichijinsha)
Directed by: Shinpei Nagai
Character Design by: Ryuichi Baba
Produced by: Seven
Voice cast: Kenichi Suzumura, Yukari Tamura, Daisuke Tonosaki, Kaori Shimizu, Rie Kugimiya, Ryoko Shintani, Sayaka Horino, Toshifumi Sakai.
Air dates: Thursdays 1:30 pm CDT on Crunchyroll

It’s not always easy being an otaku, a cosplayer, or even just a fan, especially when dealing with friends, neighbors, loved ones, and society in general. Opinions among the ani-muggles can run the gamut from “immature” to “perverted” and everything seemingly negative in between. What are two people to do when they have almost nothing – at least at first glance – in common?

That’s a question that the series I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying, or Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai ken, tackles with self-referencing gusto.

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Book Review: The Monster Book Of Manga: Steampunk
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Monster Book of Manga: Steampunk review
The Monster Book of Manga: Steampunk
Paperback | Kindle
Edited by Jorge Balaguer
HarperCollins
Release date: February 24, 2015

There’s an old adage, still in use in this day and age, about not judging a book by its cover. It happens to be true. This writer can attest to many a dusty, worn tome that has yielded much more than he assessed at first glance on the shelves of his local library or used bookstore. The great thing about that old adage is that it applies to both sides of the coin; there are also a lot of books out there that promise much on the outside but tend to disappoint once you’ve delved deeper.

For those who have read my articles before, you know that I am an inveterate – and unapologetic – fan of anime and manga, and I am always eager to investigate any resource that purports to teach either the history of – or techniques surrounding – the genres of manga and anime. I’ve been a fan of both genres since before it was considered cool, when the only way you could learn to draw the style was to pick up a pencil and a sketchbook and copy of one’s favorite manga (or, if one was lucky enough, one of the various art books from overseas) and draw freehand from what you saw on the pages.

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Anime Review: Nisekoi – False Love
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Nisekoi – False Love
Nisekoi – False Love
Original creator: Naoshi Komi
Directed by: Akiyuku Shinbo, Naoyuki Tatsuwa
Character Design by: Nobuhiro Sugiyama
Produced by: Aniplex, Mainichi Broadcasting System, SHAFT
Voice cast: Kana Hanazawa, Kouki Ouchiyama, Nao Toyama, Kana Asumi, Mikako Komatsu, Takehito Koyasu, Yumi Uchiyama, Yuuki Kaji.
Air dates: Season 1 currently streaming on Crunchyroll
2nd season scheduled to start in Japan in April

How old were you when you were first in love? What promises did you make to the one you loved, and what value are they now? What is the nature of true love? Is it something wholly spontaneous, or can it be born of long association and bonds of mutual friendship and respect, even among seemingly implacable foes, or over long spans of time and space? When is love true, and when is it false? If more than one person can lay claim to it, which one holds the real key to your heart?

These are questions that poets, writers, and artists of every stripe have wrestled with ever since humans could first communicate, and often, our delving reveals more questions than answers. In the series Nisekoi – False Love, based on the manga by original creator Naoshi Komi, those questions get a new lease on life.

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Comic Review: The Courageous Princess, Vol. 1
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The Courageous Princess review

The Courageous Princess, Vol. 1: Beyond the 100 Kingdoms
Written & Illustrated by Rod Espinosa
Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: March 18, 2015
Cover Price: $19.99

It seems that from our earliest childhoods, fairy tales, and heroic legends surround us. As children, they nurture our minds and fuel our imaginations. As adults, we’re bombarded with feature-length retellings from the likes of Disney and Dreamworks to Studio Ghibli and Peter Jackson. And then there’s Rod Espinosa. The artist behind such works as Neotopia and Alice In Wonderland, Espinosa’s been charming both children and adults with his beautiful artwork and simple, compelling storytelling for years. The Courageous Princess series continues that trend wonderfully. The series is a re-release of an earlier publication from the venerable Antarctic Press, made possible through the good graces of Dark Horse Comics.

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Second Opinion: ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ Movie Review
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Guardians of the Galaxy

If you really want to see a totally ass-kicking space fantasy adventure movie that is well-written and produced, with characters you care about from start to finish, then go see Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. Based on the Marvel comic of the same name, it’s the action flick of the year, hands-down.

Peter Quill, aka Star Lord (Chris Pratt) has found a mysterious orb that holds the key to the salvation – or destruction – of an entire planet and the race of people who live on it. Chased by the henchmen of Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace) and with a bounty on his head, he encounters Gamora (Zoe Saldana), a killer raised by the mysterious character Thanos (Josh Brolin), as well as Rocket (Bradley Cooper), a self-aware raccoon who’s the product of genetic experimentation. Rocket’s accomplice is the giant enigmatic plant-being Groot (Vin Diesel), whose vocabulary is seemingly limited to the three words “I am Groot.” Arrested by Nova HQ and sentenced to prison, the group encounters Drax the Destroyer (David Bautista), whose family was killed by Ronan, and who has sworn to avenge their deaths.

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