Aniplex of America announced today that they will begin streaming the brand new anime series, Slow Start, on Crunchyroll beginning January 6, 2018 at 9 am PST. Animated by A-1 Pictures (Sword Art Online, Blue Exorcist) and directed by Hiroyuki Hashimoto (Magical Girl Raising Project, Is the Order a Rabbit?), the series is based on a popular 4-panel manga by Yuiko Tokumi in Manga Time Kirara, a seinen manga magazine from renowned publisher Houbunsha. In addition to being the first ever in Japan to put out a 4-panel manga magazine, Houbunsha is the publisher for another popular 4-panel manga series, BLEND-S, which served the basis for the smash hit anime by the same name in fall of 2017. Masato Anno (Eromanga Sensei, Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend) is in charge of character design with music by Yoshiaki Fujisawa (Love Live! School idol project, No Game, No Life Zero).
“When I was first approached by the team at Kirara regarding a new series, I really wanted to create a cute and charming story that didn’t take itself too seriously,” says Series Creator, Yuiko Tokumi. “But when my editor suggested to make the series about ‘reaching for a goal like trying to win a tournament,’ I began incorporating that notion into the story.”
The series addresses an interesting stigma relatively unique to the Japanese culture known as being a ronin. The term, which is often associated in the U.S. as a term for vagabond samurai, refers to a person who has failed to get in to a school or company and must wait a year to try again. While the concept of a “gap year” is not foreign to the U.S., the Japanese education and hiring system, which only accepts new students or new employees during a limited time once a year, results in many young people being forced into an involuntary gap year. The main character is no stranger to this dilemma, as she finds herself a year late starting high school. Unable to bear the shame of being a year behind her classmates, she moves away to start a new life at a new school.
“Slow Start isn’t just a cute and fun story, it’s about the importance of emotional connections,” says Director Hashimoto in an interview about the series.
Thanks to her new friends and new acquaintances, the series explores many different forms of “slow starts.” The title, Slow Start, refers to not only the main character’s delayed start to high school but a larger theme of taking one’s time to grow up. As Hana gradually opens her heart to the people around her, her life begins to unfold with exciting and cheerful moments. From playing around like children to feeling anxious like an adult… This is an adorable and heart-warming tale about growing up … slowly.
Nan Desu Kan was an incredible experience to break into the Rocky Mountain nerd scene. It was not as large as I was used to but with a smaller crowd came a good amount of event control. The convention was organized and had plenty of helpful staff members that didn’t seem overly stressed by the chaos that comes with an overpopulated event. If you’re ever in town during this event, I highly recommend checking it out.
I attended Nan Desu Kan on Saturday where it seemed like the most was going on. Picking up tickets is always the stuff of nightmares at these things. Thankfully there was several staff members that helped kept the lines organized and moving quickly. In no time I had my badge, the event itinerary, and was on my way with no frustrations.
Coming up to the Sheraton in downtown Denver had me excited as I saw the flood of costume wearing attendees walking back and forth between the Hotel, where the Dealers Rooms, Video Game and Board Game Area are located, as well as to the event center where the Viewing Rooms, Art Gallery, and Main Event Stage are all located. Not knowing a lot of the new anime, a lot of the cosplay was lost on me but that says nothing to the quality that was on display. People take the dressing up aspect seriously here and there were many creative costumes that had me gawking whether I knew the source material or not. Easily the most ambitious costume I saw was The Legend of Zelda Mask Salesman.
I spent the first few hours exploring both buildings and every nook and cranny. In my travels I found a model making room, where many Gundams were not only for sale, but being constructed by some real pros. Some of their previous builds were on display and it made me recall all the ones I built in the past. Heck it even inspired me to take an unopened one out from the closet and start it up that very evening!
The Art that was at the convention was incredible. There were plenty of pieces at good prices that ran from video games to a magnitude of different anime pieces. If you wanted to spend a little more there was a charity gallery where all profits went to charity. Speaking of spending money, the Dealers Room was a pretty decent size with so many knickknacks and swag that my palms were sweating. It took everything in me to keep my wallet firmly in my pocket and not spend outrageous amounts of items that would add to my already nerdy domain (talking about my room people).
the hardest thing to walk away from was a booth in the Dealers Room with so many Metal Gear Solid Play Arts Kia figures that I felt woozy from just the sheer amount of them on display. These figures go out of print so quickly yet here was a few complete collections on sale. I swiftly ran out of there with my wallet intact.
The viewing rooms for their 24/7 anime screens were smaller but were showing some pretty cool newer shows. I got to sit in on the first three episodes of the new Berserk series. As a longtime fan of the series I was very happy to finally get to see this reboot. These conventions have a way of reminding me that there is plenty of great and new Anime out there, I just need to find it and be open to suggestion. A good example is One Punch Man was huge at the convention this year. So of course Saturday night I spent my time binging that show which was time well spent. If it weren’t for attending this convention I may have not been bitten by that Anime viewing bug again.
The Game Room called to me. I am always obligated to check out anything board or video game. While the board game area was not very large, nor was nothing on sale, the area was very populated. You could sit at a table, rent a game for a couple hours and really make an afternoon out of a variety of designer board games. We didn’t spend much time here because the siren call of Dance Dance Revolution machines and other rhythm based games screeched from a nearby room.
I make haste towards the sounds and enter into a good sized area with free to play arcade rhythm based machines. I danced a few songs on the Pump it Up machine, headed over for a round of Dance Dance Revolution, played some drum game by Konami, and a few other machines I had never even heard of. Across the way were consoles loaded with fighting games such as Guilty Gear and Super Smash Bros. If I were in fighting shape I would have schooled some people in Smash but alas, I did not want to make a fool out of myself after being so out of practice.
We wrapped up the day by attending the Anime Music Video Contest in the Main Event Hall. Man these all brought me back. 3 hours of finalist videos that were all edited and synced up to music to perfection. I used to love digesting these back in the days of the early internet. I am talking Linkin Park, In the End with DBZ scenes focused on Vegeta type of stuff. That was OG to me. Here we had many standouts from Queens, Don’t top Me Now with a focus on One Punch Man, and even a hysterical Linkin Park, Crawling rendition that focused on the crappy animation of the new Dragon Ball Super. The whole room was invested and cheering along with the best videos, it was awesome to be a part of.
My time at Nan Desu Kan was well spent but very little. One full day is just a drop in the bucket for an experience like this. Next year I will prepare to do it the right way, with a room, a full weekend, and a costume. I love going to anime conventions, but lately some of the bigger ones have been so draining it leans on the side of draining more than fun. Nan Desu Kan is still in that sweet spot of size, control, and organization and it lead to an excellent time. Walking the floors and seeing all the costumes were the highlights for sure. I cannot wait until rocky mountain’s biggest Anime convention next year, and I hope to see some of you there!
With Halloween around the corner, we dove into our closets to find quick and easy costumes to please all manner of costume and cosplay enthusiasts! Our focus today is on the adorably naive Misa Amane from the popular anime Death Note!
Misa Amane is introduced to viewers in beginning of the series with somewhat of a gothic lolita style, which is a perfect balance between the character’s dynamic as a bubbly, aspiring top idol with a secret interest in the darkness of the Shinigami world. We chose a black corset dress with a fluffy tiered lace skirt from Tragic Beautiful, which sounds like the most appropriate shop for Misa Amane to spend all her easily earned cash. The gloves from Etsy are both laced and lace to mirror the dress. To go with the fleur de lis theme from the anime, we picked thigh high patterned stockings from Mod Cloth with a flower motif. Betsey Johnson ruffled combat boots were a great find to compliment the hard and soft of Misa’s character, and as an up and coming model, we can totally see Misa clunking down one of Betsey’s runways. As Misa’s style can be portrayed through just a few pieces, we left room for you to accessorise with crucifixes and chokers to your dark little heart’s content.
Want to take your Misa costume to the next level? Find a black leather diary, write “Death Note” on it, and grab some red contacts for your Shinigami eyes! You could even beg and plead in that adorably cute way to have a friend make a Halloween costume of L from Death Note so you can go as a pair!
Planning on making this costume? Doing some other DIY awesome? Want to check out the rest of our Halloween Costumes From Your Closet ideas? Show me all your spook-tacular creations with the hashtag #SCaryMonth on Twitter and Instagram!
With Halloween around the corner, we dove into our closets to find quick and easy costumes to please all manner of costume and cosplay enthusiasts! Our focus today is on the elusive L from the popular anime Death Note!
This Halloween costume can be pulled from most closets, but just in case you don’t have a white shirt or blue jeans, we went ahead and located some for you on the cheap at Target. The main staples of this costume are L’s spiky black hair and the under eye shadows that indicate insomnia. For the wig we chose , and if you don’t have a friend or family member to borrow makeup from, simply stick with Target and find a black and gray matte eyeshadow – sans sparklies.
Want to take your L costume to the next level? Find a black leather diary and write “Death Note” on it. You can also use one of L’s many defining traits, such as crouching in chairs or only eating sweets and see who among you is an anime fan! You might make a new friend, something which L is certainly lacking! Maybe you’ll even run into someone dressed up as Misa Amane!
Planning on making this costume? Doing some other DIY awesome? Want to check out the rest of our Halloween Costumes From Your Closet ideas? Show me all your spook-tacular creations with the hashtag #SCaryMonth on Twitter and Instagram!
The second it was announced that the creator of Naruto, Masashi Kishimoto, would be making his first ever appearance at this year’s New York Comic Con (and the United States), I made a silent promise to myself that come hell or high water, I would attend. Naruto is one of those iconic manga epics, with over 70 volumes and a slew of movies that supplement the equally lengthy anime, and as I queued up with fellow fans, it struck me just how popular the series is.
Once seated and weirdly serenaded by a techno version of the Spongebob Squarepants theme song, the panel moderator welcomed Viz Media’s President and CEO, Ken Sasaki to the stage, where he regaled us with the impressive selling power of Naruto (220 million copies, bringing it to the third highest-selling manga of all time). It wasn’t long before the crowd got antsy, however, and with a thunderous roar of welcome, I laid eyes on the creator of one of my all-time favorite properties.
He politely bowed to the crowd before settling in and pleasantly chatting away in response to the questions put forth by the moderator. Things I learned from this panel included:
- At no point in time did he ever imagine Naruto would get to 72 volumes, in fact, he thought it’d be canceled 10 weeks in (something that is a common happening in the world of manga).
- When asked if there was pressure to keep the story going, he laughed, but admitted that he put his foot down on ending it, since he knew how he how to end the story. Everything about Naruto and Sasuke’s reconciliation in the Valley in front of the hokage statues was something that was in his head early on.
- While he was finally able to get married, relax, and watch his kids grow, he still hasn’t had the time to go on a proper honeymooon!
- At this point, discussion turned to his “rival,” One Piece creator, Eiichiro Oda. Kishimoto had a good natured laugh talking about how often they would cross each other’s path and their long standing friendly competition. When he told Oda he was ending Naruto, he said it felt like he may have inspired him to create an ending for One Piece.
- Kishimoto first realized Naruto got big when he started receiving fanmail in languages he couldn’t read. The reality of its reach sunk in when he got a hold of YouTube and took in the passion of fans over the internet, especially when he saw people cosplay his characters for the first time. At this point, he grinned and announced he just realized that the crowd was full of cosplayers, to whom he apologized for designing complex costumes for his characters.
- As a young person, he enjoyed and drew inspiration from manga like Monster, 20th Century Boys, Phoenix, and Slam Dunk, so it was always a goal to succeed in the serialized magazine, Shounen Jump.
- Our moderator then stated that in America, Shounen Jump launched with what he described as the American Golden Age in manga, with Naruto alongside chapters of Bleach, Dragonball Z, and of course, One Piece. Kishimoto humbly expressed how happy and embarrassed it made him for his work to be referred to as part of the Golden Age.
As a treat, we even got to watch his sketch two pieces LIVE, one of his title character, and one of the character Jiraiya, using a cosplayer in the crowd as his model!
Kishimoto finally got to talk about Boruto. It was the first movie he got to work on from beginning to end in order to bring his work to life for the last time. Viz was even kind enough to screen the trailer, after hearing cheers from the enthusiastic crowd, myself included. Boruto, an epilogue of sorts, will follow Naruto’s son, who is a chip off the old block.
Once there wasn’t a dry eye in the house, Kishimoto was asked if he had a closing statement, which he did:
“I heard that there were many fans who weren’t able to make it today and to hear that after seeing how many people are already here, you know, this is just a little title that I started working on many years ago without ever thinking about any effect it might have, much less a following! All I can say is to know how many of you, how many fans love my work, that follow my work. It’s just, it’s so faithful. The only thing I can even think of saying is THANK YOU.”
In response, all I can say is: No. Thank YOU, Kishimoto-san. I’m nearly thirty years old, and it was your work, your acute ability to make a girl from Texas, half a world away from Japan, fall in love with manga for the first time at 15, and for that, I really am eternally grateful to have fallen in love with Naruto and his story.
A-Kon is the biggest, longest running anime convention in Texas. With that comes a lot of perks, such as notoriety in the anime scene, being able to get better venues because of your long track record, and potentially attracting higher quality attractions. But the flip side is that you also have incredibly high expectations from your constituents and a lot of pressure to outdo yourself. So how did A-Kon 2015 fare?
I’m sorry, I love food, so it comes first. I think maybe A-Kon read my review from last year because this year’s food situation was FAR better than last year’s debacle. If you remember, A-Kon 2014 was full of coupon systems, strangely regulated food trucks, and a corner market charging over ten dollars for rice an avocado.
This year, however, most everything was fixed. The dumb coupon system has been removed, allowing instead a smooth line of people herded through each of the food sections with a few cashiers at the end. You know, like a legitimate, sane convention with subpar food selection.
The food truck situation was also drastically improved by not only adding more trucks, but separating them into different sections of the building. Typically if one side was crowded, the other was a pretty reasonable size, meaning there was no shortage of cheap food options.
And of course the price gouge-y place was still there. Not much you can do about that aside from protesting the Hilton Anatole. I just wanted to shake some of the people in line and say “YOU CAN GO GET A PIZZA OUTSIDE RIGHT NOW FOR HALF THIS PRICE. PUT THAT BACK, YOU FOOLS.”
A-Kon has had growing pains since its switch to the Anatole. The first year saw gargantuan lines with unreasonable wait times just to get in to the dealers room. Since then, the lines have been mostly streamlined, leading up to this year, in which I never stood still on my way in. Instead of one straight line in to the dealer’s room, the long hallways to that area of the building solidifies into one snaking line structure at peak hours so that you never get the feeling you’re stopped. It’s a great idea and it seems like A-Kon finally got this one 100% right.
Where they are still having problems is their layout for Artists Alley and the Dealers Room. You see, unlike a lot of cons, Artists Alley can only be accessed by badge. And if that wasn’t bad enough, you can only access the Dealers Room through Artists Alley. I’ve ranted about why Artists Alley shouldn’t be badge-gated, so let’s talk about the major problems having Artists Alley as a doorway introduces.
At first glance, it seems like this decision is a great one for artists. By forcing people to walk through a room of great art, chances are that dealers on the shortest path from the opening door to the Dealer’s Room connection got a rise in profits as people saw something they normally wouldn’t. And maybe people that usually skip Artists Alley decided to have a quick jaunt around the room before trying to go buy a kigu. However, the fatal flaw in this plan lies in building codes.
The Dealers Room and Artists Alley are essentially one giant room divided in half, meaning both halves have to share capacity, and since Artists Alley comes first, guess what side got shafted? I’ve heard from no less than two people that the Dealers Room was far less busy than it has been in the past sheerly because of capacity issues. Now normally, this wouldn’t be a problem, but in both Dealers Room and Artists Alley, there was enough room to sit down against the walls very comfortably, so at any given time, there were at least thirty people sitting down or playing DS by a wall. I’m not advocating against breaks or talking with friends, but there are so many other places to sit and hang out that aren’t going to stop people from making money. Take it outside, bucko.
On the subject of dealers and artists, this year actually saw the most high quality businesses and artists we’ve seen at A-Kon. Though the dealers roster didn’t change much, it was enough to make an already great dealer’s room just that much better. In particular, a video game business from New York City made an appearance toting a bevy of rare games for all consoles at reasonable prices. I picked up a sealed copy of Final Fantasy VI, my all-time favorite game, for the Super Famicom for only $40. Dang.
The artists in Artists Alley were also top notch, featuring a wide range of styles and fandoms to choose from, even ones that are pretty obscure. I was able to find no less than six different Ace Attorney prints when usually I’d be lucky to find one. And this applied to so many different fandoms from Fire Emblem to Supernatural and Sherlock. If you’re looking for a high quality Artists Alley, look no further.
The offering of events was pretty standard. There was a rave, a hentai panel, an art auction, and all manner of panels about different fandoms. The amount of panels was slightly more than usual, but nothing intensely awesome. The rave, by all accounts, was okay, but not as great as it had been in previous years. This may be because the DJ was playing more Trance-style music than dance, but I heard that from enough people that it seems noteworthy.
Art auctions are a big draw to anime conventions for me. I’m a big fan of original, high quality art and it gives me an opportunity to support artists and also feed my urge for gambling/auction. What, I’m human. Naturally, since this con is the biggest in Texas and so many people come from all over to go to it, I assumed it would have an incredible art auction. Unfortunately, that assumption was incorrect. It cordoned to a tarped-off section inside the game room that featured six or so walls of art whereas a convention like Anime Fest, which has fewer attendees and has been running for far shorter, has three to four times that art. It was a huge disappointment. I know art shows are mostly supported by the artists submitting art to them and that’s not something A-Kon has control of, but it was still a bummer.
A-Kon is one of the conventions people in Texas brought their A game to, and it really shows. Not only costumes of the highest quality, but all sorts of different fandoms too. There was even a Jack Skellington in his Sandy Claws outfit complete with giant stilts. It was super awesome. One of the best thing about having so many cosplayers together is that there can be massive groups of one particular fandom, even the smaller ones. The size of the Legend of Korra group alone was big enough to write home about. If you’re a cosplayer or a cosplay enthusiast, you’d be remiss to skip A-Kon.
A-Kon works hard to make sure you don’t have to leave the convention for anything. That’s great because there’s nothing really within walking distance as far as food goes. There’s a few places down the road, including Rodeo Goat which has damn good burgers and shakes. Seriously, if you’re ever in the area, give them a try. Other than the odd burger place, there’s not really much. Except for the king of all restaurants.
Medieval God Damn Times.
A-Kon may be worth it just to be next to Medival Times. Seriously. Their food is great, their drinks are great, and the show is fantastic. Yes, it’s pricy. But if you time it right and keep your eye on coupon code sites, you can get up to half off your ticket, bringing to down to a slightly more reasonable $35 or so. Maybe I just love Knight Fights, but Medieval Times and A-Kon sound like a damn good weekend to me.
Should you got to A-Kon if you’re in Texas? Absolutely. The growing pains since moving to the Anatole have all but disappeared. Food is readily available at reasonable (or not so reasonable) costs, hotels are plentiful, dealers and artists are both high quality, and cosplayers step their game up. There are still a few things that need work, but all in all, A-Kon provides high quality entertainment for a reasonable price.