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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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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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Anime Review: Comical Psychosomatic Medicine
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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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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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Anime Review: Chaika: The Coffin Princess
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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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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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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: 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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