Anime Boston 2011
May 2011 Edition by Todd
Douglass, John Sinnott, Neil Lumbard and Wen-Tsai
by Todd Douglass, John Sinnott, Neil Lumbard and Wen-Tsai
Hello again! It's just about time for another Anime Talk column, so I figured we'd throw something together. As usual the same rules apply with capsulated anime reviews being published here as well as a selection of anime bargains. Towards the bottom of the page we have included a figure review and a piece on Anime Boston, which was held in the latter part of April. For manga reviews, we are doing something a little different and posting them in the Anime Talk forum. Please feel free to follow our book reviews there!
The most famous anime series in the world gets a definitive release with FUNimation's Dragon Box series, and box five continues with the same high quality as the earlier sets. Covering the series high point, the Cell Games, this is collection has some of the best episodes from the show's run. There's drama, excitement, a world-shaking battle, and more than a little comic relief thanks to Mister Satan and (later in the set) the Great Saiyaman.
It's hard to keep a series, especially a comedy, entertaining for over 200 episodes. One Piece makes it look easy though. The series zooms pass the 200th episode in FUNimation's release of One Piece Season Three, Fifth Voyage. Still as entertaining as ever, the Straw Hat pirates find themselves in a bit of a pickle in this collection, trapped in the middle of a marine base with their ship, the Going Merry, impounded. Of course something as small as a naval base full of marines isn't enough to stop Luffy D. Monkey. The base will never be the same.
While fans are patiently (or not so patiently as is often the case) waiting for the further adventures of Sgt. Frog to be released here in Region 1, FUNimation has decided to put together the second season into one nice-sized boxed set. I would have much rather a set of new episodes, but this release is a good sign. At least they haven't forgotten about the diminutive alien and his mission to conquer Earth. Clever, witty, and hilarious, this show consistently delivers irreverent fast-paced comedy and is a 'must-buy' title.
Eden of the East fans have something to celebrate...kind of. The first of a two-part film conclusion to the series has finally arrived on Blu-ray here in the States. While the series ended on an appropriate note that left much to the imagination of the viewer, the creators wanted to milk the cash-cow a little longer and put together King of Eden and Paradise Lost. In this first half Takizawa has gone missing and Saki takes it upon herself to find him and save him before the other players of the game can kill him. There's more going on than meets the eye and Takizawa's wish to become King has made him a big target. It's a fascinating concept, but it's something exclusive to those who watched the show and it's only the first half of a story. I felt rather unsatisfied in the end.
And last, but certainly not least, is Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. That's right! Disney has remastered Miyazaki's classic and released it on Blu-ray in glorious 1080p high definition. This is an absolutely must all across the board. The film is a classic among classics and is timeless in its own right and the 1080p transfer is decidedly better than the DVD and a worthy upgrade. That means whether you own the film on DVD or not, you'll want to pick this release up. One can only hope films such as Kiki's Delivery Service and My Neighbor Totoro will receive the same treatment.
For more anime bargains, please check out the monthly Official- ANIME Bargains! - Thread, updated by yours truly!
*Please Note: Product Availability & Prices are Subjected to Change! Updated on 5/8/2011!
When it comes to lines of figures and anime, there are few as prominent in the current market as ToHeart 2. Sure the anime hasn't been released here in the States yet, but in Japan there seems to be a new figure from the series being put on store shelves every month. From character versions found in the show, to alternatives from the games, ToHeart 2 is pretty darn popular. The latest example of a figure from the series is Sorceress Manaka, from the alternative PC game FINAL DRAGON CHRONICLE ~ GUILTY REQUIEM ~.
Top manufacturer and publisher, Kotobukiya, has been one of the largest licensees of the franchise, and FINAL DRAGON CHRONICLE ~ GUILTY REQUIEM ~ is their current focus. Recently I purchased the Tamaki Kousaka Samurai Version and I must admit that I'm quite smitten with it. Tamaki is probably the most popular character from ToHeart 2 that you're going to find, but today I received Manaka and she's got plenty of personality herself.
Standing roughly the same height as Tamaki, Manaka is a 1/8th scale PVC figure from her role as sorceress in FINAL DRAGON CHRONICLE. This figure catches her in mid skip and for all intents and purposes she seems to be floating in a way, as though she was captured in mid spell cast.
From top to bottom the figure is rather whimsically designed. Manaka's head is adorned with a frilly French maid-inspired headpiece that has been caught in the wind during her movement. Her expression is bright-eyed and the little smile really showcases her personality as she looks off slightly to the right, as though she were showing off for her friends.
Wonderfully proportionate in design, Manaka's left arm is outstretched in a flourish like she is saying "Tada!", while her right arm drapes to her side loosely clutching her magical staff. Her figure is rather...ahem...hourglass in structure. Her excessively large bust is spilling out of the top of her cocktail dress, and the mini-skirt end doesn't leave much to be desired on that side of things. It's tied off at the hips, but the raising of her right leg affords a slight glimpse at some black undies beneath. It's nothing too naughty, mind you, but it doesn't leave an awful lot to the imagination.
Manaka's legs are one of her more dynamic features. Her right leg is adorned with a large boot that glides up her thigh, while her left has a smallish shoe that barely crests her shin. That left foot is affixed to a rather gaudy base, but it's similar in style to the one used for Samurai Tamaki, so I suppose it's a part of the collection's design. It's rather unfortunate since it sticks out like a sore thumb, though I suppose it's not the end of the world.
The quality of the figure is quite solid all around. The build is virtually flawless with no wayward creases or markings. It showcases a clean production and the figure benefits greatly from that. Likewise the color scheme of black clothes, with blue and pink highlights also provides a nice contrast to her pale skin. Her attire matches the many jewels on her staff, and the color scheme of black and blue draws attention to her bright facial expression and eyes. It's a captivating piece that's a lot of fun.
In addition to the base being a flaw, I will say that Manaka's staff is a little too loose fitting in her hand. You kind of have to slide it in and position it. Once on the shelf the staff will not move, but if you jostle it or move the figure be prepared to have to readjust it. In the end those are minor complaints, however, and Sorceress Manaka is a wonderful addition to the shelf.
Whether you're a ToHeart 2 fan or not, and whether or not you've played FINAL DRAGON CHRONICLE, Sorceress Manaka is a worthwhile figure to add to the collection. She's a solidly built and whimsically designed figure that showcases the charm of the character while playing into its fantasy roots.
Sorceress Manaka has recently been released and is currently available from these retailers:
Like most years at Anime Boston, registration was something of a nightmare. Long lines, poor communication among volunteers, and disorganization are what one can expect upon arrival. Granted it's been getting better throughout the years, but it's definitely a controlled kind of chaos. Once my pass was in hand the convention center was an open playground of all kinds of anime goodies.
As with most conventions the first things you want to do is make an agenda and plan out what's where and when, so naturally that's what I did. With the day set I initially had some time to kill before the dealer's room was opened and panels I was interested in got underway. Walking around and checking out the good (and bad) cosplays is always a good time killer, though for a while I hit up the game room. This sprawling video game space was packed with Call of Duty and Halo system linked together. There were also Street Fighter IV and Marvel vs. Capcom bouts, and plenty of other random gaming on the side. It was a lot to take in and the lines for each console was long, but this proved a perfect spot to kill some time and socialize a bit.
At noon time the dealer's room opened up and it was held in the same spot as last year. That meant the space was massive and there were more dealers than you could shake a cosplay stick at. The only thing is some favorite vendors of mine from previous years, such as Sasuga Books and Wizzywig, were not in attendance. There were still plenty of good deals to be had and naturally my addiction to gashapon trading figures was sated every time I turned around. I picked up a Queen's Blade Melona and a Gurren Lagann Yoko for myself, with a Hello Kitty and Dragon Quest figure on the side for my wife.
After hitting the game and dealer's rooms it was about time for lunch, and let me tell you, the Prudential Food Court is nuts during Anime Boston. Think about a mall swamped with cosplayers and non-anime fans looking on with confusion and ignorance. Listening to passers by make comments about "freaks" shows the tolerance level of mainstream America, but hey, we're a good bunch of people and it takes a lot to get under our skin. My only comment about lunch, aside from making the mistake of eating Panda Express, was using the Food Court's bathroom. I was uncomfortably sandwiched between crossplayed Haruhi Suzumiya and a Hatsune Miku at the urinals. Ugh.
At 2:00 the first panel I went to on Friday was "Who is Hatsune Miku". This panel was orchestrated by Rym and Scott, and it was a rather upbeat panel with all kinds of music videos of the world's first digital diva. Essentially it was a collection of ripped videos that were loosely tied to the concept of Miku and her popularity. It wasn't the greatest of panels, but there were some laughs to be had and it was worth it to see the crowd's reaction to Miku's version of the Sgt. Frog dance.
From there I hit up "Japanese Folklore: Kitsune, Oni & Yuurei, Oh My!" at 3:00. This panel by Jennifer and Samantha Yoo was a little on the dry side, but there were some interesting tidbits about Japanese folklore to be had. I'm not going to lie though, I left early to get in line for the "FUNimation.com Presents" at 4:00. This panel was more or less a promotion of the new FUNimation beta site, and it listed some content for people in the crowd to pick. It wasn't really for announcements and it seemed like an excuse to give out bumper stickers and keychains to people who asked questions. After FUNimation I had some time to kill so I sat in on "Convention Etiquette: How to Avoid Being "That Guy'", which was an entertaining panel that looked at some of the more annoying aspects of an anime convention. Shove that Marco Polo crap up your ass! I'm sick of it!
At 7:00 on Friday I made it to the Mari Iijima concert in the auditorium. Mari was made famous in the anime world for her role as Minmay in Macross. Her concert was rather lowkey with little more than Mari, a piano, and a picture of her sick bunny rabbit. She was entertaining and engaged the crowd in between songs, so I was very glad she came to Anime Boston. The dealer's room was closed by the point the concert ended, and the industry panels were done for the night so I hopped the train back home in order to get an earlier start on Saturday.
On Saturday the day started early with a 10:00 panel from "AnimeonDVD.com/Mania" panel. I know, I know, they are "technically" a competitor, but Chris is a local guy and he's an Anime Boston regular so I had to check his panel out. After that panel I got in line for the FUNimation Sneak Peak, which spotlighted some upcoming shows though in all honesty it wasn't anything I hadn't already known about. Then at 1:00 there was a State of the Industry panel, which pretty much just turned into another FUNimation panel with the conversation shifting that way.
In the same room at 2:00 there was the Sentai Filmworks panel, though I admittedly skipped that to get in line for the Okaido New England/Ten concert. Okaido New England is an American-based group of Taiko drummers based out of Massachusetts. Their style was rather traditional and the concert was pretty damn good overall. Ten, which opened for Okaido, was, well...not as good. I appreciated the music of the three person band, but wow, they need a lyricist. The guy that played bass and sang simply couldn't handle the latter half. I almost wished I had gone to the Sentai Filmworks panel at that point.
From the concert I booked it to the FUNimation panel, which marks the third (or technically fourth) panel by them at the convention. This was the one where they announced upcoming DVD releases and simulcasts. There wasn't anything outstanding showcased here, but it's all good regardless.
That pretty much wrapped up my time at the convention, at least as far as panels went. I spent the rest of my time wandering around the dealer's room again, checking out the incredible artist's alley, and popping in for autograph sessions and the occasional guest discussion. This was also my opportunity to snap picks of some cosplayers and the wife and I finished the day off with dinner at Fugakyu.
I worked. :-( No convention for me this day.
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