Last year some of us from the Sub Cultured team were able to attend Nan Desu Kan 2016. NDK is the premier anime convention in the Rockies. This year it took place on September 1-3, 2017 at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel, and lured many anime and geek culture fans like I siren’s song. Housing thousands of fans, this convention grows with every year.
There is plenty to do at an anime conventions, including: viewing rooms (for watching anime), dealers rooms (for buying stuff), music video contests, and of course costumes, costumes, costumes.
Since NDK is local to a few of us here at Sub Cultured, we try and make our presence known there every year. Check out the article we wrote last year, and peruse all the pictures of the fantastic cosplay from Nan Desu Kan 2016. We also go in depth with some of the guests and events/activities that could be found there. Check out our small gallery of photos we took while patrolling the floors of Nan Desu Kan 2017!
Nan Desu Kan grows every year, and as of now NDK will be back for 2018, in the same Hotel, on the same Labor Day weekend. If you are interested in this convention, please stay tuned around this time next year where we will cover it even more! There are always major guests from the voice acting world, as well as an excellent musical guest. With the growing popularity of this con, it is sure to garner more attention from even bigger names. Keep updated with all things NDK 2018, right here on sub Cultured!
On Friday, Netflix dropped Death Note, a live-action film adaptation of the popular manga/anime of the same name. Since I was free for most of Sunday afternoon, with no plans besides counting down the hours until the seventh season finale of Game of Thrones, I figured I may as well check it out. After all, it was something I was looking forward to, despite the valid whitewashing criticism.
Before you read through my review, please keep in mind, I haven’t read the manga version of Death Note, nor watched a single episode of the anime series. I’m merely critiquing the Netflix movie on its own merits.
Also, while I’m not going to outright give away the ending, I do make references to certain plot points of the film, which may be spoilers for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. So proceed with caution.
Death Note focuses on Light Turner, a smart high school kid who doesn’t seem to have any friends. His mother was recently killed, leaving just him and his cop father, a dynamic which causes a rift in their relationship. His mother’s killer walked away from the charges and Light doesn’t feel his father pursued the killer hard enough. One day, during a freak storm, Light finds a notebook, the Death Note, which grants the user the ability to kill anyone whose name is written on its pages. There are a bunch of rules associated with the Death Note but it all boils down to “killer notebook.”
Along with his girlfriend Mia, Light (I can’t believe this is the kid’s name) goes on a killing spree. They target bad guys and people who hurt others in an effort to “better the world.” In the process of their murders, they attribute the killings to a karma god of sorts, whom they name Kira, as a way to strike terror into the hearts of evil-doers.
The murders attract the attention of L, an eccentric detective who is fueled by candy and often forgets to sleep. Being a sugar addict seems like an odd character trait to give a prominent character so I assume that this was a carry-over from the source material, but it really seems out of place. The film tried to explain it with an off-hand remark about the “insulin rush” but the trait doesn’t seem natural. In a long form narrative, like the manga or the anime, a quirk like this can developed and also used as a detriment to the character, such as when he’s in a situation lacking sugar. The movie, however, just shoehorns it in with very little (if any) explanation, so it comes off as silly.
Then there’s Mia, Light’s girlfriend. She’s the guiding force in Light’s usage of the Death Note, a girl with a dark side that she hides from the rest of the world… except the movie makes the audience aware that she is the “bad girl” from the minute we first see her. She’s smoking a cigarette at cheerleading practice, for example, so clearly she’s edgy. The problem is that Mia has no depth. We never get a glimpse at her past, or at her home life to really understand why she’s so messed up. She is 100% gung-ho about using the Death Note, to the point of threatening Light’s life to convince him to give it to her but it’s never clear why. She’s deeply disturbed and would make for a fascinating character study, but unfortunately she’s used as a side note, only meant to push Light further and further to see how far he’ll go.
My main problem with the film is how easily all of the characters accept the idea of the supernatural being involved in the murders. Light’s cop father wastes no time coming to the conclusion that his son is Kira despite the physical impossibility for him to be so. Even L, with all his grand detective skills, fingers Light early on as the culprit, assuming he has some sort of latent telepathic abilities that allow him to control and kill people.
This wouldn’t be a big deal if the movie established itself as part of a world where this sort of this was commonplace. A few references to some of L’s past cases that document criminals with telepathy or whatnot would go a long way here. From everything we’re shown, however, the viewer has to assume that the film takes place in our world where the laws of physics apply. Yes, Light has a magic book that can kill people but that’s the outlier, not the natural order. If L had been shown to be chasing this book for a decade and realized that it found its way into Light’s hands, his deductions would make sense. But L, from what we’re shown, doesn’t know about the book’s existence and still manages to guess almost every rule. It’s implausible and makes the movie hokey.
I also had a really difficult time figuring out who I should be rooting for. We get why Light has a hard time with life: his mother is killed, her killer buys himself out of a prison sentence, and he has to deal with bullies at school. So when he gets the Death Note and he’s able to turn everything around, his first act is to kill a classmate. It’s a little out there and doesn’t do much to establish himself as a “good guy.” When it comes to L, the guy who is trying to find justice and stop these murders, we never really connect with him. He is so quirky and abstract that it’s hard to find common ground, so despite his intentions, we don’t really care if he wins or not. It isn’t until he suffers a major loss do we see him exhibit any kind of emotion, and by then it’s too late into the film for the audience to really connect with the character.
So who do we root for? The down-on-his-luck killer or the eccentric detective?
Death Note was directed by Adam Wingard, who is best known for V/H/S and for surprising everyone in 2016 with a new Blair Witch movie. I like Wingard as a director but he seemed to miss the mark with Death Note. The movie is remarkably directed and looks fantastic but really suffers from all of the logical and character inconsistencies in the script. I feel like there was definitely the possibility of a good movie, especially given the depth of the source material, but lacked the proper execution.
The cast did a great job with what they were given. Nat Wolff, who played Light, really felt like a lost, angry child, mad at the world for everything that happened to him. Wolff brought a lot of energy and emotion to the role and makes the character likeable despite the terrible things he does. Juxtaposed with that, Lakeith Stanfield as L made a great foil. His delivery as the stoic, brilliant detective drew that divide between the character and the audience, which made it so effective when the character hit his emotional breaking point. As a viewer, I felt his sadness and his rage, and enjoyed the way this emotion mirrored Light’s own, making them two sides of the same coin, of sorts.
Even Margaret Qualley was fantastic as Mia. Though the character has the least depth of the cast, she’s a driving force to the story. Qualley plays the role with a certain coolness, almost emotionless. It makes the audience wonder if our opinion of the character is wrong or if she truly is a sociopath. Which is a great take considering how little backstory we get of the character.
One of the highlights of Death Note, though, was Willem Dafoe as the voice of the demon Ryuk. Dafoe never shows up on screen but he brings life, ironically, to the death demon. His performance is reminiscent of his take on the Green Goblin in 2000’s Spider-Man, which I liked. He added a lot to a character that spends most of the movie shrouded in shadows and gives the audience something to grasp.
A Death Note film like this was a huge undertaking, considering it needed to boil down 37 episodes of the source anime into a 100 minute feature. Despite its missteps, the cast and crew did the best they could, unfortunately that didn’t make for a wholly great finished project. It’s the kind of movie to watch on a lazy weekend, or when you’re home sick hopped up on Nyquil. While it captures the dichotomy of doing bad things for good reasons, it doesn’t really explore those themes and just comes off as a superficial revenge story. Though I really did enjoy the final scene and the open-ended finale, I feel like all I really got out of this movie is the desire to watch the anime in the hopes of finding a good, complete story.
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!
Nan desu ka in Japanese means, “what is it?” which is a very appropriate name for an anime convention. Anime conventions harbor some of the most ambitious cosplay, attracts the most interesting people, and is a place where passion comes out to play. From standing in line for panels, to making jokes in the back row of the viewing rooms where anime plays 24/7, there are plenty of social opportunities at conventions and events like Nan Desu Kan.
Like most anime conventions, Nan Desu Kan will have a cornucopia of activities to see and do. Every corner of the nerd world is on display at Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel, the home for Nan Desu Kan. With a myriad of activities and guest to keep you entertained, I would be surprised to find someone nose deep in their phone – unless you’re playing Pokemon Go.
This year, Nan Desu Kan is celebrating its 20th anniversary and is taking place on September 2-4th, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Nan Desu Kan staff and coordinators have a petty good lineup of guests that will be appearing here. Chris Bevans, (voice actor for hits like Sengoku Basara, .hack//Quantum, Samurai 7). Also there will be Johnny Yong Bosch (played the Black Ranger on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, as well as a voice actor for Kaneda in Akira, Renton in Eureka Seven, Albert in The Count of Monte Cristo, and Kiba in Wolf’s Rain). As well as Richard Epcar (voice of Batou in Ghost in the Shell) among many other voice actors and industry types.
Are you an AV type? Well they have an anime music video contest. I used to watch those things nonstop in the days of LimeWire and Kaza peer to peer sharing applications. You fancy yourself an artistic type? Well enter in some work into a contest, auction off some of your work or just come in and gaze! You want to know more about specific things in the industry? Well, check out the assortment of culture and industry panels. You will also have game rooms for designer board games and video games. Along with, workshops, and the before mentioned anime viewing rooms. Musical guests and dance parties are present if you’d like to get your groove on. Finally, there are the dealers rooms where you will learn to hate your wallet and all of its contents within.
With over 7,500 attendees last year, Nan Desu Kan will be a much smaller con than I am used to. I originate from Dallas, Texas where we have Project A-Kon. In 2016 its attendance was over 32,000 super fans. A smaller event than what I am used to actually has me very excited. While A-Kon is mega fun, it is too crowded, and becomes a beacon for unsavory types alongside the nerd crews I seem to get along with more.
If visiting with voice actors isn’t your bag and you have the incurable need to dance, don’t forget to attend the multiple concerts that will be occurring. Eyeshine, an American edge rock band from West Hills, will be the musical talent for a show as well will be there running a panel. DJ Bullock will be handling the Saturday night rave, and Onemadcow will be setting the tunes for the J-Pop dance party on Friday night.
I recently moved to Denver, Colorado, a beacon of outdoors activity. Being a huge fan of all things nerd culture, it’s easy to become worried about how the scene is here. I have lived a lifetime indoors digesting media and evading the sun. Living with no regrets, I still knew wanted a bit more. Combining some old passions with the new in a nice juggling act I like to call, “My Life.” So how does one jump into the nerd scene here in Denver? I could try awkwardly meeting people out in the wild like some insane person. Maybe instead I could seek a location where I know my kin will be located. So I decide on Nan Desu Kan, the Rocky Mountain region’s largest anime convention.
I have a peculiar relationship with Japanese animation. Loving anime was easy growing up as a kid in the 90s and early 2000s. However, slowly I fell off the boat as the newer stuff did not resonate with me. Reminiscing about anime has me realizing that I grew up in the golden age of Japanese animation. That late 80s to early 2000s was just a special time for the medium. Anime was different back then, and to me it was just better. All of that aside, I still very much enjoy the culture. Going to conventions like Nan Desu Kan allows me to live and breathe for 3 solid days with other like-minded individuals as we geek out about all things Japan. After all, anime conventions are hardly ever just about the anime, it’s about nerd culture in general.
With my time at Nan Desu Kan you can expect tons of pictures of cosplay. Also some quick reviews of anime I pop in and watch in the viewing areas. You can also expect some coverage over useless purchases made. Expect a couple more articles chronicling my experience at the con.
Nan Desu Kan takes place on September 2nd to the 4th at the Sheraton Denver Downtown. You can get all the information at the official website, and there is still time to pre-register for the event as well! Sub Cultured will be on hand to cover every aspect of the convention in real time on Twitter and Facebook, but you can also visit right back here at Sub-Cultured to read up on my review surrounded by a culture and people I just love. More to come on Nan Desu Kan!
For some of us, ReedPOP’s New York Comic Con is like Christmas: there’s jolly folks you only get to see once a year, everyone is in a festive spirit, and there are scores of gifts to purchase (mainly for ourselves!). It’s an absolute blast for those craving a huge convention akin to the geek Mecca that is San Diego Comic Con, but much more comic oriented. This convention is an immersive and inclusive experience that aims to bring the energy, passion and color of the entire universe of popular culture to every corner of NYC.
This year boasts big names from Marvel and DC, including writers Amy Reeder, Scott Snyder, and artists Marjorie Liu, and Humberto Ramos, among many more, even manga creator Masashi Kishimoto in his first trip to the USA (Naruto). Topping our list are also creators Brian K. Vaughan (Saga, We Stand Guard, and new work Paper Girls), Annie Wu (Black Canary), Charles Soule (basically everything at Marvel) and Marguerite Bennett (Bombshells, and basically is writing amazing things at every publisher).
If you’re not interested in the floppy, stapled pages of comics, there’s still tons for you to enjoy, such as panels ranging from screenings of upcoming shows, to the round table fun with the cast of Once Upon A Time, to what you can expect in the coming year from Funimation, Capcom, and more!
Maybe your tastes run more toward the art of cosplay? No worries, you have the chance to be among a sea of fellow cosplayers, and show off the long hours put into the labor of love that is cosplay. Just make sure to find us so we can take your photo!!
Lastly, who can forget the stars lovingly sitting behind tables signing each of their fan’s loved items? NYCC is bringing an armful of our favorite stars and there’s also a huge roster of voice actors from your favorite cartoons, and in some cases, actors who hit you right in the nostalgia.
NYCC rolls into the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on October 8th and runs until October 11th. Grab your tickets while you still can, from the official convention website or get your buns to the downtown Midtown Comics location to buy tickets while they still have them! We hope to see you in New York, and if you’re so inclined, join in our fun with our upcoming NYCC Instagram challenge!