Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill for Art Exhibition at 71A London Gallery

IMG_6075logoTurn the right corner in Shoreditch, and you can find anything…

To celebrate the release of Sin City 2:A Dame to Kill for on DVD and Blu-Ray, Lionsgate UK teamed up with 71A, gallery and events space, in East London to host a special art exhibition showcasing Frank Miller’s original work from the first two comics. These dark black and white visuals fortell the story and characters behind both Sin City films featuring the likes of Jessica Alba, Eva Green and Bruce Willis.  For those who may not know, Sin City is  my favourite film of all time and I felt very lucky to be able to attend the preview gallery and drinks reception.

IMG_6026logoUnlike most art gallery receptions which might serve champagne (or most likely cheap cava) 71a had free beer at the ready, just like what you would find in Sin City’s fictional bar Kadies. Marv would be pleased!

The room was filled with Sin City fans, movie buffs and comic fans alike all eagerly anticipating the screening of Sin City: A Dame to Kill for, reminding everyone just why they love the Sin City franchise so.

The gallery is open to the public for tomorrow only – Friday 19 December, 9am-5.30pm so grab your coat and check out this fantastic artwork before they are taken back to Old Town…

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A Very MOE Christmas – Maids of England x Maid Cafe

IMG_5985psssIf I hadn’t been in the Christmas spirit before, I certainly was now after attending Maids of England’s (MOE) last event of the year; “A Very MOE Christmas”. Held at Cafe Necco (cat in Japanese); a modern Japanese café hidden in the depths of Exmouth Market which specialises in desserts and traditional Japanese bento and curry dishes.

Tickets were £9 and included a festive Christmas cracker, a chekki (decorated polaroid photo) with a maid or butler and a raffle ticket to a prize draw to win items such as melty kiss chocolates, chekki photo album and the grand prize of a maid/butler experience – a chance to learn and become a Maid of England member at a future event. Those unfamiliar with maid café culture or want to find out more about Maids of England I recommend reading my interview with the cast here.

IMG_6020psThe Maids of England event was divided into two slots. The first focused on an idol theme and the celebration of Maid Miyu’s birthday (forever 17). The second which I attended, was Christmas themed to fit this the serving cast wore Santa hats and covered their usual maid uniforms head to toe in Christmas accessories. On a sadder note, the session was also the graduation of long serving Butler Kouki who was leaving the MOE mansion to travel the world and share all his stories he had collected.

On arrival at Café Necco, I was greeted by Butler Lexie who escorted me inside and introduced me to my serving maid, birthday girl Maid Miyu. She took my order of a matcha green tea latte to warm up, briskly bringing over the creamy green coloured drink which had been topped with red and green sugar sprinkles for that extra Christmas touch. I am not sure if it was Maid Miyu’s magic spell on the beverage inside the chic cat patterned tea cup, but It was just what I needed for my sore throat! If I had been feeling better I may have been tempted to get one Maids of England special cold shakes, a mocktail style beverage that your maid/butler will make infront of you. A customer on my table had a Sailor Moon style shake.

IMG_5983psAs I sipped my drink, the maids and butlers rotated around the room so that each table would have a chance to converse with every member of the serving cast. Our table took selfies with Butler Lexie and pulled christmas crackers with Butler Kouki who we tried to explain the punchlines of the jokes to, meanwhile trying to think of some maid cafe themed christmas crackers of our own. Do you like what Butler Kouki came up with?

Why do MOE live in London? Because they were Made in England….

Those who are familiar with Maids of England know that they are natural performers, holding a LOVE Concert  last year and forming a MOE idol group which performs at conventions around the country such as Hyper Japan, so naturally during the session the serving cast showed us their moves with Butler Kouki performing his last ever dance.

IMG_6000psHaving set up their own established musical group and cafe, it seems MOE are branching out into the world of retail. The maids told of a future online shop they were launching selling brand and indie accessories. They bought some of the items which you could purchase to the event including some very cute biscuit purses!

Out of the existing maid cafes in the UK, Maids of England are the most true to form in replicating popular maid cafes from Japan such as Maidreamin with the French maid like uniforms, distinct personalities and performances at events.

I look forward to what Maids of England have in store for us in 2015!

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Ai My Maid Cafe – Super Smash Sisters at Shimogamo

ai my maid edit psPreviously Ai My Maid had held a Pokémon event and Miku Miku Kyun, the final event of the year was entitled; Super Smash Sisters, which took place inside Shimogamo, a Japanese restaurant  located a couple of minutes’ walk from Camden Town Station.  As I approached the venue I was greeted outside by Maid Mayumi and asked to pick a lucky fortune slip, unfortunately I received a curse (yikes!) luckily the shrine maidens were on hand to bless me and others who had been cast with the same ill fate! Those lucky few who had been blessed were awarded gifts ranging from chekkis (a decorated Polaroid photo) to other kawaii items.

IMG_5932psAs I entered Shimogamo I was instantly struck by the authentic Japanese vibe inside, more so then previous venues used, with the restaurants welcoming long wooden tables and stools, surrounded by kitchenware, wine and sake displayed on the walls. I could see that all the food was beautifully presented in bento boxes and looked absolutely delicious. Although I didn’t have one, the desserts especially looked amazing! Shimogamo is actually the name of a famous shrine in Japan, so it really was ideal for an Ai My Maid event to be held.

IMG_5954psFor those not familiar with Ai My Maid, I recommend reading an earlier interview with them here but I will briefly explain, they are based on Japanese mikus, translated as shrine maidens in English. Ai My Maid reflect this in the colour and style of their matching uniforms. They also have shrine maiden like powers with the ability to cast spells, blessings and a select few can even read tarot cards.

Ai My Maid used their shrine maiden powers to cast spells on goshujin-sama and ojou-sama (masters and mistresses) food bestowing luck and good fortune upon them!  Each maid is unique with a special talent, from ribbon rose making, drawing and singing all are available on request for a small fee (50p-£3.00) with ten maids present there was a wide selection of things to choose from and a maid was never far away to oblige a request.

IMG_5961psIt is no secret that the staff at Ai My Maid love games, many of their events have a strong gaming presence so naturally the maids had laid out several consoles accompanied with the newly released Super Smash Bros available to play, attendees had even been encouraged to bring extra controllers allowing the maximum number of people to get involved.  You could play fellow attendees or challenge the maids! Attendees could win stamps and ultimately a prize if they can beat the maids at a number of challenges – not just Smash Bros. Games ranged from guess who, connect four then there were more creative (and messy) inventions such as chubby bunny which involved stuffing as many marshmallows in your mouth as you can – poor Maid Ayami was challenged to this over 15 times during the day!

IMG_5931psAs well as Smash Bros, attendees could play retro games with each other, I think I played pop up pirate like a 100 times and lost a fair few times! The maids were a force to be reckoned with, as I watched Maid Nanami score connect 6 in a game of connect 4 (cognitive powers at work there..)! At the end of the session there were still some secret Santa presents left so the maids challenged the room to rock, paper, and scissors. The winners received the remaining gifts.

Ai My Maid are keen on interaction not only with attendees, as mentioned earlier with 10 maids present there was always one close by if you needed something, but creating a friendly atmosphere at their events.

I look forward to seeing what the Ai My Maidens have in store for us next year!

Photo album from event here

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Interview with Melody Perkins at London Film Comic Con

melody pAt London Film Comic Con Winter I caught up with the lovely Melody Perkins who you may remember as Margo Stillman from the hilarious episode of Season 6 in Charmed; ‘The Power of Three Blondes” she also played the villainous Astronema from Power Rangers and later the pink ranger.

How was it working on the set of Charmed?
So much fun and hilarious! On and off set it was just hysterical.

The character you play in Charmed is a very ‘ditsy blonde’ did you do anything to prepare for the role?
No, I actually found the role very easy, I just love to act goofy and really enjoy comedy roles like Margo!

Were most of your lines scripted or improvised in Charmed?
We mostly followed our lines but we really embellished on them

medoldy 4In the episode you take over Paige’s role in the power of three, did you watch any Charmed episodes before the show?
Yes, I did watch a few episodes before I started to get a sense of the role and Rose’s character.

How does your role on Charmed differ to that on Power Rangers?
(Laughs) So different! Astronemna was so focused on destroying the world where as Margo was self absorbed and distracted by everything.

How did working on the Charmed set differ to that of Power Rangers?
As Astromena I worked with a lot of ‘monsters’ while with comedy roles like Margo I get to interact a lot more directly with others.

melody perkins 1Are you working on any future projects that we should look out for?
Yes, a short comedy film about three friends taking a road trip

Follow Melody on Twitter @Melodyperkinsxo and check out all her work on imdb.

 

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Cosplayer of the Week Special: World Cosplay Summit Team 2014

wcs marcio buniya of portalnippon

Photo by Marcio Buniya – PortalNippon

Emi-zone and Felixize represented the UK in the World Cosplay Summit this year. These amazing cosplayers shared with us what this extraordinary experience was like and the cultural difference between cosplay in the UK and Japan.

How did it feel winning the UK qualifier at PlayExpo? Did you do anything to celebrate?
Honestly it was a huge surprise for us, when we arrived at the event we saw everyone else’s amazing costumes and sets and our confidence diminished. When we were called we couldn’t believe it was happening, it was the most amazing thing. We went back to my house to change and drop the set off and then went out for a big dinner with our friends.

For both the UK qualifier and the WCS championships you entered with Li and Sakura from Tsubasa Chronicles, was there a reason for this?
When we decided on Sakura and Syaoran for our prelims we quickly found that we had a similarly strong interest and like about them. They worked well for our body type and height difference, and Tsubasa featured so many amazing costumes and was full of skit potential. When it came to choosing our championships costumes we dwelled on it for weeks on end before realising we already had the perfect choice, so we pinpointed our favourite costumes and went from there.

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Photo by Frazzy

What was the most challenging part to make of your costume, how did you overcome this?
The most challenging part, though for different reasons had to be the small triangle pieces that adorn Sakura’s costume. There were close to 100 of them in total and each individual piece consisted of 3 different beads, thread, lobster clasps and a bell. It felt like a never ending scenario, between the two of us, I can’t even guess how many hours we spent making them! We would sit and marathon Gintama or Free while doing it in the evenings or between practises.

How long did it take to learn the impressive skit which you performed in the WCS finals in Japan?
I’m glad you found it impressive! We actually live very far apart so we weren’t able to spend as much time practising as we’d have ideally liked. We scheduled visits – during which we worked on both the costumes and the performance. We would spend a couple of hours each day – either in the morning or during the late afternoon doing run throughs over and over again. We had the help of a friend who worked with us to choreograph our dance and give us feedback also. We spent the night before the finals practising till about 3am!

Photo by Emily Bastian

Photo by Emily Bastian

Did you have a favourite part of your visit to Japan?
I think WCS itself was an amazing experience, we both felt so privileged, it’s going to stick with us forever. We met so many talented and kind people, in both the cosplayers and the staff – it’s hard to focus on just one part of our trip to Japan. It’s a beautiful country with stunning views and tradition, there is no end to the things you can see, do and eat!

What was the biggest culture shock for you when you visited Japan?
The heat was a bit of a shock. Cultural differences that effected us however included not being able to talk in the lifts, or eating while walking. We found it hard to grow accustomed to dodging the cyclists too, as they ride on the pavements. This felt like certain death to us.

Photo by Emily Bastian

Photo by Emily Bastian

Overall what was the highlight of representing the UK and entering WCS?
The opportunity to travel to Japan, take part in the WCS experience and be part of the World Cosplay Summit Family. We received a lot of support during the lead up and while we were over there and we’re so thankful for it all.

After your experience, in your opinion, how does a Japanese convention differ to our UK conventions?
Japan doesn’t hold conventions as we know them, cosplayers attend cosplay only events run by organisations such as JCF which gives them an environment in which they can network and take photos with other cosplayers, they don’t have panels or masquerades. Both have their advantages depending on what you want from an event!

Photo by Frazzy

Photo by Frazzy

Russia won overall, but did you have a personal favourite entry from another country?
We were both really fond of Denmark’s performance and costumes, they deserved the Brother Award so much. I [Emi] was also fond of Mexico’s skit and all the effects they used as I’m a huge Ghibli fan!

WCS qualifiers take place at Winter Hyper Japan, any tips for those entering, additionally advice for those worried that there not good enough to enter cosplay contests? 
We actually put together a list of helpful tips on our blog for anyone thinking of entering WCS this year – or in the general future! It’s by no means a MUST do list but it’s what we’ve come to learn during our experience and will hopefully be of use to anyone planning on competing!

http://wcsteamuk.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/world-cosplay-summit-preliminary-round.html

For anyone unsure about entering – you’ll never know until you try!

Follow Emi-zone and Felixize online and remember to attend Hyper Japan Sunday as they select our UK representatives for 2015!

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Nintendo 3DS: Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward

3ds gameAisha Anime reviews Rising Star Games, Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward

The game is actually a sequel to Nintendo DS exclusive 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors in the Zero Escape series. You can play VLR as a standalone game but I highly recommend getting hold of 999 if you can as it has an incredible story, and adds more depth to the second game.

The game starts as you wake up in an elevator with irremovable watches and leave your fate in the hand of a group of strangers including a rabbit. Nice. Using teamwork you must work together to escape a nightmare bunker where the rabbit Zero is keeping you captive. Given the choices to trust or betray them in hopes of saving your own skin. Frankly I loved the twisted story you’re thrown into, giving suspense and lots of puzzles, not quite Professor Layton style, this involves finding informational clues and taking notes.

zero escape 1The fun part of playing it on the 3DS is that you can use the touch screen to examine objects and interact with the various challenges. The puzzles vary in difficulty but have no fear you can change the difficulty during play from hard to easy. Once it’s on easy you can’t revert back and you will lose the chance to find interesting story clues. The game keeps track of which puzzles you’ve solved on hard though, and I think you should to enjoy the game more, what was the point in playing the game if you’re going to skip bits?

Now let’s talk about the elegant visuals, it’s not too far off from the beauty of Dangonrompa and that’s fantastic for how old this game is. The fantastic voicework and music tied it all together, considering all the swearing I was pleased it was in Japanese audio though a few Japanese students on the train looked over and laughed whilst I was playing! This was one of my first visual novel games but mixed with the “Escape” sequences.

Annoying bunny Zero rabbits on about the “Nonary Game.” This basically revolves around the watches and the number 9. The nine people must try to find a way to escape their prison, or they are trapped their forever or wind up dead. Yes this game is neither for the faint hearted nor for younger players.

zero 2Once a team enters a chromatic door, an escape sequence commences and you won’t be able to leave the room till you solve the puzzles to obtain key cards and enter another Novel section. 9 get’s you out and 0 means certain death. Their bracelets are equipped to inject them with two different drugs, causing them to drop dead. Lovely!

Since numbers are crucial to this game, trust becomes an issue, especially when one of the nine players might be Zero himself. The Robot? The riskee chick? The old dude? Who knows! This game allows you to split into different pairs or monos. In total there are 24 possible endings to this game, with nine being more important than others. To help figure the different routes, you have a map or flow chart in game.

Virtue’s Last Reward is a visual novel giving you strategy and suspense. The cut scenes are attractive enough to keep you interested in the varied characters. Both the music and voice acting are top notch. The soundtrack fits the theme of the game perfectly with moody undertones and keeps you on your toes while the voices have so much emotion and dramatic pauses – I love dramatic pauses! Only negative was the 3DS version’s infamous save-corrupting bug which made the Vita version more desirable but then no touch screen fun. Also I felt they didn’t make the game 3D friendly but this didn’t affect my enjoyment of the game.

This game scores a high 9/10

You can order it online from Rising Star Games for either Nintendo 3DS or PSP Vita, either version is totally worth it.

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Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium – Cat Cafe Review

IMG_4362psOn Sunday I visited hipster cat heaven at Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium located in the depths of Shoreditch on Bethnal Green Road. The café is easily walkable from Liverpool Street, Shoreditch or Bethnal Green; easy to find it has an open glass pane window so passers by can actually see the cats wandering around from outside! Similar to that of a pet shop, when you can see new kittens through the window and everyone peers in with excitement!

Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium is the UK’s first cat café, based on those first made popular in Japan ten years ago (there is also one in Paris – café les chats) I was very excited to check it out. I booked in March, not finding a suitable available date until November – those cats are in demand *I thought this day would never come!* Having discussed this with many friends some baffled by the notion, others sharing my excitement, I can see both sides but either way it is definitely something to experience!

IMG_4391psAs we arrived staff explained the rules to everyone in the same session;

  • Do not pick up the cats (stroking/petting is fine)
  • Do not disturb the cats while they are sleeping
  • Do not feed them your food and drink
  • No flash photography
  • Sessions are 1 hour 30 mins

All of which are pretty basic and reasonable, I don’t recommend giving any cat a latte…

Before entering you are also required to wash your hands, there are additional hand sanitizers laid out on all the tables for all the germophobes, ensuring that you can still play with the cats then clean your own paws before eating! For reassurance, the cats are not allowed in the kitchen so you needn’t worry about finding any cat hairs in your food!

IMG_4339psLayout wise, the café is two levels; the first floor has a garden theme; pale blue with lots of stairs built on the wall for the cats to climb, hammocks and white garden chair style seating for customers. The lower level has a vintage vibe, with sofas and arm chairs provided for visitors with added decor such as an antique bookshelf. Unlike everyone else, my aunt and I spent most of our session upstairs which worked in our favour as a lot of the cats got bored downstairs and wondered on up to see us, which meant we had them all to ourselves!

Food is simple and classic. I selected ‘The Kitten’ a platter served on a wooded board compiling of hummus, flat bread, balsamic vinegar and a selection of vegetables (£6). While my aunt chose a ham and cheese bagel, accompanied by side salad and crisps (£5). Nicely presented, we were both satisfied with our meals, most importantly they were quick and easy which meant more time to play with the cats and explore the venue! It really is not the place you would want a long three course meal as you would spend all time eating and no time with the cats! Although I didn’t have one, the emporium has a selection of cakes and scones which looked devine – especially the red velvet! Please note on top of your food bill £5 per person will be added as an entry fee, this is described to cover the cost of the cats (food, insurance etc).

IMG_4331psRegarding the treatment of the cats, the staff clearly adore them and are more than happy to tell you what the cats like and stories of their adventures! For example, we found out that most of the cats living in the Emporium are related, there favourite spots to be stroked and their favourite toys – despite having a whole collection of brand new toys, their favourites were a bit of blue ribbon and being dragged around on bubble wrap!

Each cat is soft and well groomed, staff have even left brushes on the side so that you groom them yourselves! Anyone worried about their wellbeing, needn’t be – there probably the most looked after cats in Shoreditch! I don’t think I have ever felt such a soft fur of coat on a bunch of cats!

IMG_4324psWhat does Lady Dinah’s need? MORE CATS. Speaking with staff it seems they plan to get some kittens in! I am sure these will be a hit – especially if they like to play! Although the cats look more than content, I am sure they get bored of all the attention and photographs (what a hard life!) I think some new lively mischievous kittens will liven things up!

I do wonder if the cat café is the start of more Japanese influences- perhaps a bunny café will be hopping up in London sometime soon….

For more info about the cat café visit their website: http://ladydinahs.com/expect-visit/

Have you been to the cat cafe or plan to? What do you think?

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MCM London Comic Con October 2014 Review

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Studio Ghibli Cosplay UK Group

MCM London Comic Con is now over and what an improvement on the May event – without a raindrop insight! While I didn’t get to meet Daniel Radcliffe (those raffle tickets went quicker than a speed of the golden snitch!) I did get to meet many of the other guests; anime voice actors, Japanese game developers, international cosplayers and the stars from Teen Wolf. Not to mention all the other amazing attendees/cosplayers who I had the chance to speak with over the weekend!

Forget Daniel Radcliffe, the one queue that was HUGE this year was the one to meet Jessica Nigri. Love or loathe her many wanted to meet the world’s most famous cosplayer. Infamous for her sexy Pikachu cosplay back at San Diego Comic Con 2009 she now has over 2 million fans on social media, when you hear the word cosplay her name usually isn’t too far behind. During the weekend people waited in line for over 4 hours to meet their cosplay hero! Looks like just one option Jess, you will have to come back to the UK again!

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Lollipop Bunnie at the NEO stand

Jessica Nigri wasn’t the only international cosplayer crossing our shores, Lollipop Bunnie (Brazil) and Paine Cosplay (Belgium) were also present at the NEO Magazine throughout the weekend singing prints along with UK favourite Stacey Rebecca and Aigue Marine.

As usual MyM had some great voice actors participating in free signings if you purchased a copy of MyM magazine (£3); D.C Douglas (Resident Evil), Laura Bailey (Fulmetal Alchemist/Fruits Baskets/Naruto) and Travis Willingham (Fulmetal Alchemist/Bleach/Naruto). I was lucky enough to grab an interview with Laura Bailey and Travis Willingham watch it here.

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L-R Travis Willingham, Me, Aisha Anime and Laura Bailey

Another reason we all secretly come to conventions is the free swag and this year wasn’t too shabby! I came home with a free bag for screaming inside of a Godzilla truck and then a free tote from the channel 5 Gotham stand and various other posters!

MCM is home to EuroCosplay Championships, there were some stunning entrants from across the world and although the UK didn’t win, our entry Kei Lin Sama did a fabulous job and got a special mention! Overall a big congrats to all those participated, especially first place Poland, Spain in second and Hungary in third.

IMG_3092psAs well as international cosplay contests, there was also a Yu-Gi-Oh championships taking With a giant inflatable Yuma (Yu-Gi-Oh Axcel) greeting you as you enter and inside games of Yu-Gi-Oh Bingo and a giant version of the popular card game. Again, although the UK didn’t win A UK player; Luke Quinsee from Huddersfield, did manage to get down to the top 8 UK pairing.

Notably I took a lot less photos this year as was focusing on interviews this time (suscribe to League of Cosplay on YouTube so not miss out!) round but I did manage to take photos of the lovely people at the Studio Ghibli and Death Note Meet!

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Me with Kelly Jean and Jessica Nigri

An overall vibe from attendees was that security were much friendlier and pleasant compared to May, personally I would agree – one of the security chaps I spoke to was so interested in MCM he took all our business cards to check out our photos after the event which I thought was sweet and a sign of positive change.

As the weekend drew to a close, my comic con adventure ended as my train stopped at the platform and the driver announced “remember to take your swords, shields and magic wands off the train”. Indeed, wouldn’t want to forget them!

See you next year or perhaps at Birmingham MCM 22-23 November!

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London Film Comic Con Winter Review October 2014

IMG_1988psLondon Film Comic Con Winter returned 18-19 October with guests such as Carrie Fisher (Star Wars), Jerome Leon (GoT), The Karate Kid and even the little girl from Jurassic Park – now all grown up! After a busy July show with the likes of Stan Lee drawing in overwhelming crowds, it was nice to see LFCC return to a more chilled out atmosphere, allowing attendees more time to thoroughly browse the stalls and talk to the guests in-depth at their tables.

Each event Showmasters always have some cool movie/TV props on display, LFCCW was no exception as I entered the venue I came across some cool cars from the movies! I would have loved a photo with them but sadly there were barriers however the iron throne (GoT) was available to grab a snap with for £5.

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Scarlet Witch breaks up a fight…

Cosplay is a big part of events like this for me so a key highlight at the event included take two of the X-Men World Record count, the first attempt at the X-Men Days of Future Past Premiere saw 125 cosplayers united in Leicester Square. Although LFCCW saw less mutant cosplayers, the quality and the community spirit remained just as high! With some nice photos and videos made by all it was topped by a raffle that some cosplayers would get to go and shoot some photos with FOX in the O2 the next day for the unveiling of the sentinel used in the movie as well as a tour of other props used in the movie franchise such as Professor X’s chair read more here.

As usual there were so many fabulous cosplays on display – not only X-Men, especially big groups which I think really shows how much of a community we are; Scott Pilgrim group, Disney Hercules – muses and all, Disney Apocalypse and so on! Even many of the guests I spoke with commented on how impressed they were with attendees efforts.

Valentine Cosplay and Mojo Jones discuss cosplay and mental health

Valentine Cosplay and Mojo Jones discuss cosplay and mental health

Despite the chilled out atmosphere, the cosplay area remained booming throughout the weekend with an overwhelming number of high calibre entrants in the cosplay contest from a variety of anime, comics and TV shows. The cosplay area also featured a range of panels hosted by cosplay guests and veterans covering traditional topics such as sewing and prop making as well as some controversial and topical issues such as Male Representation in Cosplay and a brand new panel – Cosplay and Mental Health hosted by Valentine Cosplay and Mojo Jones –sharing stories of depression and ADHD it was an open forum which many found comforting and could relate to. Following the body image panel back in July it is good to continue to see the rise in community and positive impact panels not just ones surrounding practical skills.

As mentioned above, compared to previous events I had much more time to interact and chat with the guests; please keep an eye out on the site and our YouTube channel where we will be uploading short interviews with MC Gainy (Lost), Spencer Wilding (Guardians of the Galaxy), Colin Salmon (Arrow/Hex), Mindy Sterling (Austin Powers) as well as some good old fashioned web interviews with Melody Perkins (Power Rangers/Charmed),  and Catrin Stewart (Doctor Who) etc.

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Interview with Tetsuya Nakashima

kamikazeI was privlidged to speak with the legendary Testsuya Nakashima; Director of Confessions, Kamikaze Girls and Memories of Matsuko, just before his first UK screening of The World of Kanako. Together we discussed Lolita fashion, characters with problems and different styles of directing.

Many of your films are based around novels, how do you go about taking this text and bringing it to the screen?
When adapting a novel, I literally pick up something I like and take it to the distributor. Once I get the GO sign I can then take the first approaches into making it reality.

Are there any books that you would like to see turned into a film?
There are a few….but I am not going to tell you (laughing with a twinkle in his eye)

How does it feel having your films distributed not only in Japan but in the UK?
I really don’t know how to feel, except it makes me so happy that others enjoy my movies around the world.

confessions-movie-review-1Your films often centre on strong ‘outsider’ female types. Do you find this appealing to direct?
I never like to cast likeable, lovable characters as these do not interest me. I am attracted to problematic characters who make mistakes.

Out of all the films you have worked on do you have a favourite character or one you can relate to the most?
I love them all, I can’t choose. You see, when directing a movie you have to emphasise with all the characters and understand every single one. I couldn’t just pick one. Saying this, I do like Matsuko’s character…

In Kamikaze Girls, fashion is a contributing part of to the story especially Lolita. Did you know much about the fashion before filming?
I didn’t even know the existence. I did a lot of research. When I first screened the movie in Japan many of the audience was dressed in Lolita fashion – I was so surprised! I still feel so displaced by it, even though I made the film!

The_World_of_Kanako-0002For those yet to see it, how does The World of Kanako differ to your previous work?
Compared to Confessions, I think everything is different. Confessions had a very calm tone and blue dark hues. Where as The Word of Kanako is high tension, colourful and lots of energy. My whole approach to directing was different as well. In Confessions I directed every detail, every movement. In The World of Kanako I let the actors loose and do what they wanted! I encouraged and guided them to become this.

Have you ever cosplayed?
No, but I have worked with a number of people who have and always found them to be very interesting.

Can you reveal any future projects?Nothing has been decided yet. I want to do something completely different from all the blood movies out there at the moment – maybe some sci-fi!

You can buy Confessions, Kamikaze Girls and Memories of Metsuko on the ThirdWindowFilms website

There are still a few tickets left to special screenings of The World of Kanako at the British Film Festival (BFI) available here

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Starfury Vampire Ball 5 Review

IMG_1016psAs actor Jonathan Woodward danced with a light saber and feather boa round the hall herding con-goers to the dance floor, I smiled to myself. What a great experience this convention had been so far!

Regular readers will know I primarily attend anime and J-culture events; this was my first Starfury event ran by the infamous Sean Harry, so I did not know what to expect! The Vampire Ball is an event which gathers actors from vampire genre TV and film together, this year the guests were all Buffy and Angel stars! s two of my favourite TV shows I was very excited to be attending!

FRIDAY

Registration ran smoothly, all crew members were helpful, knowledgable and friendly (especially the lovely ladies on the photo sales desk) my only minor grumble is that lanyard straps cost £2.50 these should be free and included as part of your ticket. I have attended many events and  never been made to pay for these before!

After registration, I made my way to the opening ceremony which in essence was an introduction to all the guests; Jonathan Woodward (Knox, Angel) had gone all out, making a video of a trip to central Birmingham, he then showed us what Birmingham is most known for on Craigslist! I won’t spoil it – go look for yourself (after reading this article of course). Straight after the opening ceremony the meet and greet commenced for gold ticket holders, this consisted of sitting on a table which seated around eight people (there were approximately 15 tables altogether) since there were less guests than tables there were times you were sitting without a guest, however I did not find this a problem, I preferred this rather than being in a larger group with consecutive guests. This also gave you a chance to talk to fellow Buffy fans!  Amongst my table were two lovely Scottish girls and Shangel, who runs a great Buffy blog. The meet and greet lasted till about midnight, rather than the scheduled 1 hour slot, which I think shows how dedicated the guests were to give each attendee their time and attention. You were allowed to bring your own food and drink in, beneficial as Hilton food was pricey and the session ran over. Two tips for this session, one come prepared with a question/objective, so you can make the most of this unique opportunity. Secondly don’t over drink! It is fine to have a glass or two during the session but don’t overdo it, as it is embarrassing for yourself, others at your table and the guests, there were a few people who got drunk and a tad emotional in this session which at times spoilt it.

IMG_0930psMoving on, to sum up my table’s meet and greet session:

Jonathan Woodward: a breath of fresh air, chugging shots of another attendees Baileys!

Emma Caulfield (Anya, Buffy)– discussion about her now deceased YouTube channel, Essnemma and how she should do something new online. Emma admitted she does miss it and wants to do something similar again.

James Marsters (Spike, Buffy/Angel)– As a Supernatural fan (Team Dean) I asked him about his guest appearance in Supernatural and what it was like working with Charisma Carpenter. He answered that he really enjoyed working closely with her and recalled a funny story of how she couldn’t remember the magical incantation and they had to hold giant cue cards with the spell written on to read off!

Jeff Rickets (Weatherby, Buffy)– a bundle of energy he made it clear we were never to give him Redbull and touched upon his life in Vienna, as unlike the other guests who are US based he relocated to Europe with his wife who is Austrian.

Dayne  Johnson (Make-up/prosthetics artist) – a lot of stroking went on! That is all I will say…

George Hertzberg (Adam, Buffy) – We ended the session with George,  despite it being midnight and the last table in the room he was still perfectly happy to sit and have a full conversation. We had a very serious debate about politics, air strikes and the severe drought that Texas is facing. Like I said, a very serious conversation but what a lovely man, he treated us completely as equals and valued our opinions on how we would resolve these situations.

As it struck midnight I finally headed to the party, although movie themed it was perfectly acceptable to wear whatever you wanted with a mixture of both costumes and casual clothes on display. I danced away till the end, very unlike me who tires easy in my old age (I swear sometimes I am 24…going on 44).

IMG_1084psSATURDAY

Up bright and early Saturday (too early – but I was excited) I grabbed my second coffee of the morning and headed to my photo shoot with Emma Caulfield and James Marsters individually. Starfury seemed to be quite flexible with shoots and allowed you to mix and match cast to your liking from anything to full group, James and Emma together etc which was nice. Straight after the shoot I headed to the main talk room where the panels began.

Dayne Johnson (Angel and Criminal Minds make-up/prosthetics artist) answered a Q&A while recreating the prosthetics from an Angel, Season 5 episode Hellbound. In the Q&A session Dayne revealed the following: The Beast (Angel Series 4) was both his favourite and hardest creation. Although he does not design the demons, he does have the recreate the images and make them look authentic. There seemed to be a few Criminal Minds fans in the audience as he was asked several questions about his time on the show. Finally, having worked on some impressive shows already Dayne said he would love to work on The Walking Dead or American Horror Story.

IMG_1221ps

Jonathan and Jeff channelling psychic energy in the room

Next up was Jeff Ricketts and Jonathan Woodward – the Trifactor; a rare breed having guest starred in Buffy, Angel and Firefly. The pair were natural stand-up comedians putting on one hell of a show, with Jeff Ricketts competing to be the next Derren Brown channelling psychic energy and predicting numbers that audience members were thinking. In-between the duo answered attendee’s questions. I asked Jonathan about his time on Angel, “many see you as responsible for Fred’s death, do you get any hate mail/what is the craziest thing a fan has done because of this”. Jonathan admitted that around once every five months he will get someone yell at him in the streets “You killed Fred!” but his response is “Yes and she deserved it bitch” he commented what made his character Knox memorable and unique was how usually the villains never succeed in killing off the main cast but he was the exception.

IMG_1284psNext Emma Caulfield took to the stage, shyer and more reserved than Jeff and Jonathan (although not when it came to the f-word) she was still able to answer attendees questions making it clear from the start she has “no fucking problem with bunnies”.  Interestingly Emma revealed she has not watched a Buffy episode with herself in. Other topics and fun facts discussed during her Q&A included that although not her style she loved Anya’s wedding dress but commented how heavy it was to wear! I was surprised to find out her favourite Buffy episode was the season 4 finale Restless, as I expected her to say a more Anya-centric episode like Selfless or Hells Bells. I asked Emma if she preferred playing Anyanka or human Anya, at first she said human Anya because she didn’t have to sit through and wear the prosthetics, she then divulged and said that she preferred human Anya because she has more emotions and depth. Like the meet and greet, she commented on how she missed her YouTube channel  and wants to do something new. Emma also talked about her most recent role as the blind witch in Once Upon A Time; providing some interesting trivia that the contact lens really did make her blind so she had to be walked around everywhere by an assistant when wearing them! When asked to reveal who was the best kisser out of Anthony Head, Nicholas Brendan and James Marsters she ultimately decided on James Marsters because “kissing Spike is as hot as it sounds”.

IMG_1342psEmma’s talk was followed by James Marsters and Geroge Hertzberg’s Q&A, not surprisingly James was asked the bulk of the questions but a highlight was when they were asked what is the most rock and roll thing they had ever done “I once dated a pornstar” revealed James then George just topped his response with “I dated a Dominatrix” hilarious, you naughty boys! Like Emma, James was also asked about the ladies he kissed on screen, except he said that on screen kissing is nothing like normal kissing and that it can be awkward as you have to make sure you are not in the other persons light, consequently the kiss in Buffy in OMWF took 14 takes! George recalled an embarrassing story of how his Adam costume was not bathroom friendly and that he had to be helped whenever he needed to go!

IMG_1473ps

Sean Harry with Edward Cullen, cosplay contest group winner

With talks over for the day over, it was time for gold pass holders to get their autographs, with regular ticket holders scheduled for Sunday. Autographs at Starfury events are included free with your ticket (unless stated otherwise). With the photographs from the morning’s shoots ready for collection you could have these signed, personal items or the free Vampire Ball poster given out which ironically had cancelled guest Janina (True Blood/Vampire Diaries) bang fat in the middle!  My item was the booklet from my Buffy series 1-7 boxset. If you wanted additional autographs you could pay £10 for a ‘badger’ this entitled you to recieve another personal item signed or one of the printed glossy photographs they had for sale.

After autographs it was time for the cosplay contest, this was probably the only time where there was some waiting around; however the con staff played some YouTube videos to pass the time including a hilarious Giles tribute. The contest featured an array of cosplays and I absolutely loved the skit fight between the Edward Cullen vs Spike who ultimately won best group. Congrats to all the winners and those that participated you all looked awesome!

The day ended with Saturday’s party: The Vampire Ball, I got into the spirit and wore a mask for the occasion! The guests came and partied and hung out in the bar and dance floor, Jonathan Woodward with his light saber as I mentioned at the beginning of this post. The only guests who didn’t join in the shenanigans were James and Emma – I presume they were worried they would get mobbed! Overall the guests were so interactive with attendees. I never thought I would be able to say I partied with stars from my favourite shows!

SUNDAY

IMG_1586psDayne kicked off the morning with another prosthetics Q&A panel accompanied by Jonathan Woodward his test subject! Dayne remade Jonathan to look like a vampire, a process that he had to go through for the season 7 episode ‘Conversations with Dead People’. Attendees could later pay to have a photo shoot with the pair. Dayne went over some of the topics he discussed yesterday, but also revealed he has a hairdressing licence.

George Hertzberg and Jeff Ricketts began the next panel, while Jeff honed his psychic abilities, George practiced his shoulders massages on unexpecting female attendees. Amongst the fun and games, the actors answered the audiences questions. Jeff revealed that in Buffy, Series 4 it was synthetic spit on Faith’s face and that although he was really spitting, he never hit Eliza Dushku this effect was done using camera trickery. As understandably, she did not want to be spat on! Jeff also revealed the tension on the Charmed set, his guest appearance was during the Alyssa Milano and Shannon Doherty feud….yikes!

Starfury saved the best talk for last; Emma Caulfield and James Marsters since people were firing random questions at the pair I decided to join in; asking them what their favourite fairy tales was, had they been affected by any as a child, I felt this was relevant since Emma appeared in Once Upon a Time. James instantly replied “Planet of the Apes”. Emma admittedly didn’t have one having said she did not really grow up with fairy tales. James said he usually gets asked questions like when he lost his virginity (Emma looked shocked at that one) so liked the unusual and deep questions!  Moving on from the what ifs and the what would you choose questions, the talk got very serious when an attendee asked if the pair would accept any future BIG roles which involved nudity. Both said no, even if it was for Game of Thrones. Emma compromised that if it was a discrete glimpse because she walked out of the shower in a scene than that was fine, but topless love scenes or anything unnecessary then not a chance. James said “I gave up on all that after Buffy, I mean I want to act” Emma added, “some of the stuff that is on TV now is virtually porn”. The answer and sincerity from the pair earned a strong round of applause from the audience.

The night ended with dancing while drinking mojitos and the wine flowed as even making it to the survivors photo. This applies to all the nights, but kudos to the DJ’s at the event, really enjoyed the music played – felt like I was listening to my I-pod!

IMG_1808logo

Ivanneth Cosplay as Willow and Tara – OMWF

Key strengths of this event was the timetabling and organisation– I did everything – I mean everything! I attended every panel, every party (staying to the end each night – I even made the survivors photo). The timetabling made it possible so you could do this, structured so both gold and regular ticket pass holders can attend all the talks, without it clashing with photo shoots and collecting autographs. I appreciated this as at a lot of events you do have to pick and choose but the con organisers did think this through for us. Panels – James and Emma was my favourite, the pair bounced nicely off each other, as did George and Jonathan, and Jeff and Jonathan. Honestly, all panels were generally interesting and funny.

Overall thanks Starfury for an amazing event, I hope to go to the next one; of course it will depend on guest selection. Fingers crossed for another heavily focused Buffy and Angel event in 2015. For those who missed James Marsters can catch him at Miracle Day (Torchwood event) in 2015!

Event Ideas/improvements:

  • Not sure how possible this is as you would need permission to screen – but a live commentary of an episode/show the star has been in.
  • More structured cosplay contest –  for those that do not have a skit, rather than walking in a circle, do the three strikes pose giving the audience more of a chance to appreciate the costume and get some nice photos
  • Please look into adopting an excel/electronic data system as it would have been nice if my pass had the right name on…
  • More events involving audience participation e.g quiz on Buffy/vampire genre shows/movies

Guest suggestions – I liked the Buffy/Angel theme to the event, I would love to see more cast members attend future events; other than the main cast I would love to meet these recurring characters: Stephanie Romanov (Lilah Morgan), Julia Lee (Chanterelle/Lily/Anne Steele), Robia La Morte (Jenny Calendar) and Gwen (Alexa Davalos). Also Kristin Bauer (Pam, True Blood).

What ticket to get?

If purchasing a ticket and you can’t decide between Gold or regular here is my guide on what to go for:

Get gold if….

  • If you are into photography and want some decent photos from the panels/main hall events as gold pass holders get priority seating. I made sure I was in front row for each panel to get those snaps.
  • Want to spend more individual time with celebs, as gold passes can attend the exclusive meet and greet sessions.

Get regular if…

  • You are there primarily for parties and socialising
  • Want to spend money on photos/extra autographs, as buying a cheaper ticket can allow you to spend the saved money on this…or a ton of raffle tickets!
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J-con Derby Review – 19-20 September 2014

IMG_0471psJ-con aka Japanese Con, held on 19-20 September saw the gathering of anime fans (and later the police) in Derby at The Riverside Centre. The con kicked off at 6.30pm Friday with the hilarious bad fan fic panel from special guest Masako X, known for his abridged series online. In honour of his appearance the con held an exclusive screening of his new abridged series Kampfer. With an authentic popcorn cart, those with VIP passes were treated to a free bucket (yummy!) to indulge in whilst watching the panels and browsing round the main exhibitor’s hall that had already been set up. After seeing some familiar faces and meeting new ones, myself and the other outer-towners headed back to the local Travelodge where we humoured ourselves in a game of cards against humanity.

Up early Saturday, I headed to the con walking over with some of my new acquaintances. This year I decided to participate in J-con’s unique Battle Royale card game– 500 cards are given to attendees with the aim of the game to win as many cards as you can – top trump style! Cards included weapons featured in the film and much more from pan lids, fans and baseball bats. As well as a fun game, this was a great way to interact with people as I ended up speaking to loads of attendees to get fight for their cards to the death! I had a fairly big pile but only time would tell if I would win!

IMG_0292psAlthough the majority of merchandise exhibitors had been open on Friday, the convention opened another back room revealing the artists/indie exhibitors, one in particular that stood out was Emily Ladybird who specialises in steampunk accessories her even even gave out delicious handmade coffee flavoured fudge!

Cosplay was a big part of J-con and the highlights included the cosplay contest the event appreciated the high standard of entrants so much that the convention gave out seven awards including the champion belt for best in show. There was also an interesting prop mobility panel hosted by cosplay guests Smallfry Creations and Iron Manda. It is not just the cosplay that shined at J-con, with a strong Lolita community in the North the event continued its tradition of hosting an annual tea party for J-fashion lovers to come together in their finery to discuss co-ords and eat cake!

IMG_0584psAs a whole J-con has a very chilled out, fun vibe with a great sense of humour with events on offer such as sumo wrestling and a skit contest. The convention kept this calm and good sense of humour even when the police paid a visit after some complaints of a gun sighting in the area, of course a false alarm/misunderstanding but a reminder to us all that it is important to abide by convention prop rules and ensure we cover weapon props up (especially guns and swords) when outside of the convention and on public transport – remember just because we know they are props does not mean others do.

Moving on, I am a recent Attack on Titan fan and really wanted to attend the AOT fan panel but alas it clashed with my own panel The BIG Cosplay debate! Assisted by Chiquitita cosplay it consisted of debating topics in a courtroom style with a judge and jury layout. The topics we debated included dubbed vs. subbed anime and whether cosplay should be over sexualised if it wasn’t originally intended to be, for example Disney princesses. I found the panel both interesting and insightful with a variety of opinions in the room which is exactly why I have started to bring this event to conventions. Thanks again to all those that participated! I hope to bring this concept to more cons.

IMG_0592psAfter my panel, I rushed to the main stage to find out my fate…would I win the Battle Royale contest or die a painful horrible death? Fate was on my side and I won! Woop woop! My prize was a large collection of manga titles and The Otaku Encyclopaedia! Carrying my leaning tower of manga, I spent the rest of the con hanging out in the panel room where Chiquitita Cosplay was conducting a neko (cat) ear workshop before heading home.

To end the review, I often get asked about the facilities of conventions (food, travel and accommodation) so here goes; J-con has a small on-site café which sold hot and cold drinks, snacks and hot food like chips which were all reasonably priced. If you didn’t fancy that there was a Subway, Starbucks and other chain restaurants within 5 minutes walking distance due to the convention being on an industrial park. For those living outside of Derby, chain hotels were again within 5 minutes walking distance, I stayed at the Travelodge as mentioned earlier. The nearest tube is Derby station, I believe it is walkable (25 mins) but I got a taxi with a friend for around £5 since we had a ton of luggage between us! From London the trains can be very expensive, so book in advance, go by coach or look into getting a railcard if aged fewer than 24. Another option is to go London to Birmingham to Derby, slightly longer but cheaper if booking last minute.

The next J-con takes place 25-26 September 2014 find out more here

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K-On! The Movie Review

kon movie 1Jon Hudson reviews K-On the movie which is now available on Blu-Ray! Here at League of Extraordinary Cosplayers we have a competition to win a copy!

What more is there to say about K-On that has not already been said? It’s still a show about not all that much, proper slice-of-life stuff; though ostensibly about the Light Music Club of Sakuragaoka High School and their activities, they perform surprisingly little music, but do drink a lot of tea and eat a lot of cake, something they happily lampshade themselves.

If you were expecting something else from the film, then well, there is some small change this time around, but still plenty of tea and cake for the faithful. There’s rather more in the way of music – it was almost fascinating how a series about a music club got away with hardly ever showing them actually playing anything – and interestingly, some re-tread in terms of story and scenes, at least for those who’ve seen the second series, K-On!! (yes, with two exclamation points…). The following assumes you are familiar with the second season, if not, then beware mild spoilers.

kon movie 2If you’ve seen the series, then this is a lovely little companion piece fleshing out and acting as a bit of a backdrop to the end of the original four girls time at school, and if you’ve never seen the show this will be enjoyable enough, although you won’t get a lot of the ‘heart’ that’s in the background and going on between the characters. Although all the hallmarks of the characters are made clear in short order so that there’s enough for new viewers to be getting on with.

In second season we knew that they had decided to head to London for their graduation trip, but we never actually saw it – now’s our chance though, accompanied with more songs and girlish hijinks due to the expanded format. London is quite remarkably well represented on the whole, you can tell they had some excellent reference material for the backgrounds, though the less said about the terrible mockney et al. accents of the ‘locals’ the better! They manage to pack a lot in to their few days in the capital, with the larger focus around two gigs they end up doing, both rather unexpected!

If you’ve seen the series then you know their parting gift to Azusa (a year younger than the original 4 girls) was a song (because of course it was), now we actually get to see them go through the lyric creation process as the second plot line entwining its way through the film, with a very confused Azusa certain something more untoward is going on.

The animation is bright and high quality with the backgrounds’ surprisingly faithful recreation of various London locales and landmarks especially pleasing, showcasing the shows distinctive style. The dub cast are excellent as ever and if you enjoyed the music from the show (if you didn’t, I can’t imagine you’d be watching this in the first place!), then you’ll be very pleased with what’s on offer here in terms of musical performance. There are a whole slew of extras available on the Blu-Ray, so if you like promos and interviews with cast and crew, then there’s plenty to enjoy besides the standard clean opening and closing credits.

In the end it’s a cute film that’s a definite must if you’re a K-On! fan, and if you’re new to all this, then it’ll be an enjoyable enough ride, but some of the shine will be lost by not having the wider picture, though thankfully the film has definitely gone to good efforts to get enough characterisation across to not leave anyone too confused.

Highly recommended.

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Interview with Maggie Blue O’Hara

IMG_4154psssI interviewed voice actress Maggue Blue O’Hara, who voices Bulma (Dragonball Z), Madison (Cardcaptors) and Kitty Pryde (X-Men Evolution) among others! This was orginally published in the Summer London Anime Gaming Conbook.

IMG_4539psHow did you get into voice acting?

When I was three years old I did a voice over for a child actor in a film. Her speech wasn’t as clear as mine was, so i was hired to do all of her lines throughout the whole film.

Any tips for those looking to become a professional voice actor?

Practice reading aloud, perfect at least four very different voices and make sure people can easily understand what you’re saying. Then make a recording demo no longer than two minutes and shop them around to voice agents!

kitty pryde 2Do you have a favourite character that you love voicing?

I really enjoyed doing the voice of Shadowcat aka Kiity Pryde from X-Men Evolution

Do you have any future upcoming projects to keep an eye out for?

I am developing my own original songs and currently looking for musicians and producers to work on my first album!

IMG_4195pssssYou have voiced for variety of productions – voice acting and starring/guesting in TV shows, do you have a preference?

I enjoy both! On camera acting is fun because the whole cast and crew work together on the film set and the acting experience is fuller being on set, with costumes and make up etc. Then voice acting is fun because it’s fast and easy when I am in the studio by myself and able to get the work done quickly!

You were born in Canada, but currently live in Hong Kong what was the reason behind the move?

I fell in love with a HK Chinese man and we co created All Theatre Art Association, www.alltheatreco.com, a multimedia theatre company. I have been performing, directing, choreographing, making music, writing, teaching and creating all over Asia for the last ten years!

bulma 01Is there anything you miss from back home?

I miss my tribe of community and close friends in Vancouver, fresh air, quiet places, fresh berries off the bush and dance parties in the trees!

As well as a voice actress, you are also an author and have published your own book, could you tell me more about this?

I have written a book of poetry called HUMAN NATURE. I am inspired by nature, our human nature and how humans have become disconnected to nature. I hope we can all remember we are part of nature and make more positive choices in the world to help make our living on the earth more loving and sustainable!

IMG_4514psWhat is your favourite thing about London?

Camden market, Portobello market, fish n chips, Sweaty Thursdays at Vauxhall (ecstatic dance community) I hope to visit these during my trip.

Thank  you for the interview Maggie and it was fab meeting you!

Check out this interview I filmed at the convention – Chiquitita Cosplay cosplaying Bulma interviewing Maggie, who voices Bulma! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DmEDtU8QEqQ&list=UUNMGtkTTdusMVd82Qb8Qekg

 

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Japan Day, Manchester 25 August 2014

japan dayAs BUCK (Bronycon) ended in Manchester, citizens had Japan Day which took place at the Midland Hotel, to look forward to on their bank holiday Monday, a free event organised by the Japan North West society with the help of the Japanese Embassy for the UK. The event showcased Japan’s cultural highlights offering a range of activties both traditional and modern. The event had everything including a kimono dressing demonstration, cosplay parade and a room dedicated to Japanese food.

Arriving just half an hour after the event started I found it was already full of people, showing the true scale of just how popular Japanese culture is nowadays. Each room was packed with stalls, with sadly little room to move. There were various stalls dedicated to modern Japanese culture, such as a retailer for anime and manga merchandise and even UK based manga artists. Manchester based fashion retailer Tokyo Royale also made an appearance as did a number of artists portraying more traditional style of Japanese art.

In another room there were stalls selling a range of Japanese food including sushi, yakisoba and delicious Japanese sweets, though food seemingly sold out halfway through the day. The final room was used for more traditional Japanese culture, a tea ceremony taught people how to serve Japanese green tea the correct way and there were a lot of varied martial art demonstrations.

Overall it was an enjoyable day, as a free event it was naturally very small but provided a taster of all things Japanese and catered to all those interested in Japanese culture based in the North West, as well as gained new interest.

This is one of many events organised by the society and anyone interested can check out their Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/groups/93382563307/?fref=ts or follow on Twitter @JapansocietyNW

Report by Vicki Anne

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Manchester MCM Expo Report

20140720_144117On 19th and 20th July 2014 Manchester held its annual MCM Comic-Con expo at Manchester Central Convention Centre. As usual, thousands of people descended on Manchester for the event in an array of colourful cosplays and outfits. Day one of the convention was a wash out, however people still braved the rain and the queues to enjoy the day. Day two was drier, brighter and just as busy.

As the event has only been established for a few years it has naturally had some teething issues. In recent years the venue was not used to its full capacity, with everything being held in the one room, however this year the venue’s space was utilised much more. The panellists’ signing areas were situated in it’s own separate room. The space in the main hall was used mainly for distributors, with a lot of stalls each selling something to cater to even the pickiest of fans. There was even a separate seating area for people to sit and chill out, chat and take pictures together, very useful when you’ve been wandering around the stalls for hours! The stalls themselves included an eclectic mixture of comic book sellers, merchandise stands, fashion boutiques and stalls selling an array of delicious treats with large and smaller retailers alike.

20140720_162302Manchester MCM in 2013 had also been criticised for the length of queue’s to get into the event. This year there seemed to be little problems with queuing as everyone appeared to get in smoothly. Those who had priority tickets not having to queue for more than twenty minutes; a big improvement from last year!

Panellists at Manchester MCM included Sci-Fi stars Chris Barrie, Robert Llewellyn and Hattie Hayridge from the TV series Red Dwarf, Warwick Davis of the Harry Potter films, Kai Owen of Torchwood, voice actor Vic Mignogna (D.Gray man, Fullmetal Alchemist, Dragon Ball Z) and many more.

For cosplayers, the cosplay parade is the chance to show off their costumes and promote themselves in front of hundreds of people. I was, however a little disappointed when, although a good idea to use the venue’s audatorium rather than a makeshift stage elsewhere, the capacity wouldn’t allow a large size of con attendees. As such, many people, including myself and families of participants of the parade were 20140720_152104left standing outside the auditorium. The cosplays this year however, were very impressive. The sheer volume and quality of cosplays was far better than other events I have attended. There was an eclectic mix of Sci-Fi, anime, game, comic book and popular culture cosplayers and the sheer majority of attendees seemed to at least have one member of their party in some form of cosplay.

What really made the event was the atmosphere. People were all so friendly and whatever your personal preference be it Anime/Manga, Comic books, fantasy, J-Culture or Science fiction people were welcomed, I have attended the con for two years now and both times felt very comfortable and happy, it is a great way to meet people who share similar interests, as well as those you don’t.

20140720_153606As one of the biggest conventions in the north of England, and the only one to bear the MCM Comic-Con name, the convention organisers have a lot of high expectations to live up to, particularly given the popularity of its counterparts all over the UK. Given the fact that the Con has a lot less space than say, London’s excel centre, Manchester MCM needed to provide the same standard at a smaller scale.

They seemed to do this well; there is truly something for everyone at all MCM events and with Manchester MCM really seeming to have improved on some of their issues, it seems likely that this will be a popular annual event for many years to come.

Report and photos by Vicki Anne

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Bushido 16 Review – Japan Foundation

bushido 16 01

 Release Year: 2010 Director: Tomoyuki Furumaya Runtime: 109 mins

As part of the Japan Foundation Summer screenings I watched Bushido 16 based on the anime with the same name. This coming of age high school comedy drama focuses on friendship and competition conveyed through kendo.

The film stars timid Sanae Nishogi (Kie Katano) who beats Kaori Isoyama (Riko Narumi) undefeated national kendo champion in a junior high school match. The tough, aggressive girl is devastated and bears a grudge. She makes it her mission to find Sanae for a rematch, however she is frustrated to find Sanae only plays Kendo causally, with no real desire to win; unlike Kaori, a determined player who has trained at her father’s dojo since she was young. This leads to Kaori helping Sanae train to become a worthy opponent and make her fight to win, rather than run scared in the ring.

bushido 16 02

Lovers of Kendo or martial arts films will not be disappointed, as despite the low budget the film features several sparring scenes throughout. For those unfamiliar, Kendo is a Japanese form of fencing with two-handed bamboo swords, originally developed as a safe form of sword training for samurai. Although I am not sure how safe the sport is when our protagonists play without their protective gear…

The film features not only many kendo scenes from matches to training, but bonding between the girls, with light comedy added. One of my favourite scenes is where Sanae takes Kaori for a girls day out, ensue cake buffets, photo booths and new shoes! The film briefly deals with the girls overcoming issues they have with their fathers which effects their attitude towards life and kendo. The film could have been strengthened by more of these scenes and less kendo action.

bushido 16 03The film does have the slighty cliché feel of two people from opposite sides of the track, bonding and become friends over a shared interest. It’s themes can be comparable in some ways to other Asian cinema gems like Kamikaze girls, or the British film Fast Girls. It is worth a watch and by the end of the movie, you’ll probably want to scream loudly and grab a kendo stick!

Top scene: When Sanae takes Kaori on a girlie day out; cake buffet, photo booth etc.

Top quote: There are some cute comedy lines between Sanae and her high school friends.

Verdict: 3/5

Thanks for the screening, I look forward to more events from The Japan Foundation, visit the website here for updates or follow them on Twitter @jpflondon

Read my review of the Barefoot Gen screening coming soon.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKxVT2TRhmk

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Crew Confidential: Zonic Cosplay

crew zonic 1

Name: Ziggy Newman

Age: 25

Date Of Birth: 28/02/89

Convention job role: Head Organiser

Key responsibilities: Pretty much everything! I make sure the event runs as smoothly as possible but also lead the committee and handle all budgeting and logistics to make the event the best experience for the attendees.

IMG_0704psPrevious/all cons crewed for: LFCC, Collectormania Milton Keynes, Collectormania Glasgow, Play Expo, GEEK, Play Blackpool, NICE, LSCC, EGX (Eurogamer Expo)and Hyper Japan.

Day job: Working in a bookshop

Highlight of convention career: Running CamCon every year plus all the events where I work as cosplay coordinator!

Best bit of job: Being surrounded by your own interests, meeting new friends and creating events where people really enjoy themselves.

Toughest bit of job: Pressure, community drama and dealing with difficult finances.

Secret fact about crewing: Its awesome! I’d encourage anyone to do it as it’s not only fun but also very rewarding and you make great new friends too.

ziggy by team neko uk

photo by Team Neko at Kitacon

Hobbies: Gaming, cosplaying, making music, acting, dancing, singing, drawing, sewing and performing on stage.

Additional fun fact about yourself: I sing and make my own electronic music based on video games.

Favourite anime: Pokemon, Dragonball Z and Haruhi.

Favourite musician: I couldn’t just pick one!

Favourite film: Girl Interrupted

Favourite food: Mint ice cream but I love all ice cream, especially green tea flavour.

Camcon takes palce 30 August in Cambridge find out more and grab your tickets here

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Cosplayer of the Week: Jazzhands Cosplay Interview

jazzhands 08This week I interview Jazzhands Cosplay, passionate abut her craft she is taking the cosplay comunity by storm by adding some Burlesque to her cosplays and contest performances. In this interview, Jazzhands shares with us the importance of cosplay doesn’t equal consent and how size really doesn’t matter when cosplaying!

jazzhands04

Photo by Escapade

How did you get involved with the wonderful world of cosplay?

I was a loner in school and I found a group of cool people who seemed to like they same things as me and they told me about going to a convention in October so I tagged along and went with them. I dressed up as the iconic killer from the film scream, at the time I didn’t know what cosplay was until I was told I was ‘cosplaying’, I just fell in love with it

What is your favourite cosplay?

It has to be Mystique, it involved long hours and a lot of pain making it.

jazzhands 07 scg

Photo by Daniel John Cotton Wall

I agree, your mystique cosplay is amazing! Can you tell me how you made it? What was the most challenging part?

It’s all made out of liquid latex and thousands of foam scraps and blue fabric paint it was a lot of moulding and clay making due to trying to get the right size of the costume the hardest part was making the pants I made them into a C string so that there was no knickers or line showing at all on the costume

You recently entered the LSCC Cosplay Championships, what was it like  being judged by cosplayers such as YayaHan?

I entered the costume in lscc at first for experience on the stage I never have really done big skit before so I was slightly nervous, like when I met Yaya Han I was surprised she was small like me! I thought she would be intimidating , boy was I wrong; she is lovely and to be judged was a fun experience.

Photo by Andrei Guiamoy

Photo by Andrei Guiamoy

Some may not know that you burlesque dance, do you find this has influenced your cosplay?

I think so, like a lot of characters I cosplay are badass females like Poison Ivy and Mad Moxxi. I do cosplay burlesque, so I’ll strip in the character on stage. I think Cosplay is a part of me now and when I started doing burlesque I had no intention in stripping in my costumes, but I was kidding myself  and now I do cheese cake and cosplay burlesque – a little bit of everything really ;)

Your burlesque Poison Ivy is beautiful, as well as your other burlesque inspired cosplayers, what would you say to those who state ‘that isn’t cosplay’?

For those who say it isn’t, well cosplay is portraying a character and that’s what I’m doing -just with my own twist! I am who I am, and if they don’t think it’s cosplay then they really need to do more research.

Photo by Jon Fisher

Photo by Jon Fisher

I noticed on your profile you stated you recently lost weight, was copslay a motivation towards this?

I was always bullied for being big and I wanted to make costumes that apparently weren’t for my body type …. that’s what I got from people online as well as people always saying that I was fat. I even got messages of my photos with big red writing over them saying ‘to fat to Cosplay’. I guess I wanted to loose a lot of weight because I was unhealthy, my diet was all over the place and now I’m a very happy size 8.

Do you have any advice for those who may be worried to cosplay due to size, or be receiving negative comments online? 

People need to realise that it’s not humanly possible to get a figure like game characters or anime characters. Even if your worried about  cosplaying a character outside your weight just do it. Seriously just do it, screw what everyone else thinks! In life your always going to get bullies and negative reactions from people so just brush it off. Think about the positives of cosplaying that character; photos compliments and making friends with people who have the same love for the character   

jazzhands 02You mentioned earlier that Mystique took a lot of pain to make, have you ever injured yourself in the name of cosplay

I’ve cut my eye on a doggy contact and had to go to A&E on my own at a convention so I was half blind walking to Charing Cross eye hospital. I also have had two needles go through my fingers, not a pretty sight but no pain no gain, right?

Cosplay doesn’t equal consent’ is a campaign within the community and conventions at the moment, have you ever experienced someone acting inapropiate towards you online or at a convention?

In the last 5 years of me cosplaying I have been assaulted about 4 times.  I have always ran to security but cons are a busy place  and nothing gets done. Last year I went to EuroGamer in London and I was assaulted by one of the staff members of a new game, I was so upset I confronted him then stormed off. I then went back and found the manager and I got a very deep apology from him and the guy in question. I just think people need to stand up for themselves and say that this is not okay, it is not right to touch someone.

What are your future cosplay plans?

Well Snow White is one with my mum and evil queen and wedding mad moxxi

Thank you for a fab interview and I look forward to seeing your new cosplays!

Here is Jazzhands performance at LFCC as Ali (Christine Aguliera) from the film Burlesque

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gst5OmlBTfA#

Photo Credits: Poison Ivy (main image) and Ali (Burlesque) by Jon Fisher Photography, Poison Ivy (vertical) by Andrei Guiamoy Photography, Hades by , Mystique by Daniel John Cotton Wall, 300 Cosplay by ESCAPADE.

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Best of… Cardcaptor Sakura Cosplays

One of the ultimate magical animes, is Cardcaptor Sakura – ten year old Sakura accidentally releases a set of magical cards aka Clow Cards each card has its own unique ability and can assume an alternate form when activated. Sakura’s job is to retrieve the missing cards, in arrat if elaborate costumes. As she finds each card, she battles its magical personification and defeats it by sealing it away. Focusing on love, friendship and magic the series and Sakura herself is a lovable character, growing as the series develops.

Below are some of the best and my favourite Card Captor Sakura Cosplayers from around the world, not only for the quality of the costume but for their love and passion for the character; many of the below have grown up with Cardcaptor Sakura, have made more than one version of Sakura and plan to do even more!

SaSa Twin Cosplay, Mexico

Since I was child, I have always been in love with CLAMP, and Sakura Card Captors was no exception. I identified with Sakura because she’s a very brave, friendly and full of dreams and energy! That’s why it is so fun to cosplay her. Sakura was one of my first cosplays and I alredy have 2 versions of her costume that I think are so beautiful (The cosplay my twin does is Shaoran) I hope that in the future I can do another two versions. Another fun fact, is that my real name is also Sakura, and that connects me even more with the character!

ccs miyukoMiyuku Saku Cosplay, Singapore
Photo by: Xeno Tan

Sakura is my childhood hero, I love her costumes ever since i was a kid. When I watched the anime and when I was younger, I dreamt of wearing her costumes and being like her and capturing the cards, hence the inspiration and motivation to fufiill the child in me.

 

ccs jesukeJesuke * Vic, Singapore
Photo by: Joel Tng

A a child during the weekends I was glued to the local television network, at that time they had a segment for animes in chinese dubs, once in the morning and again during lunch time – Cardcaptor Sakura was one of these! I was very enchanted by the magical aspect of the show, as well as Sakura’s adventure to collect the Clow Cards and in the 3rd season, change the cards into Sakura Cards. Now that I am a lot older and have rewatched the series a few times , one of the aspect I really like about Sakura is how her character grows stronger; she starts off a brat and ends a positive but strong girl, loyal to her love (in the manga). I guess cosplaying her was a natural thing to do because of my love for her, and CCS was one of the first few series that really captured my heart. As a costume maker the range of her costumes really attracts, but the bottom line is that Cardcaptor Sakura has a really special place in my heart and I see myself continuing to cosplay more of her costumes in the future.

ccs miyMiyukiko Cosplay
Photo by Andy Chan

I always loved magical girl anime when growing up, and Card Captor Sakura was no exception. Being able to cosplay Sakura is almost like being able to fulfill a childhood dream. Now that I’m a cosplayer I’m able bring characters like Sakura to life, it feels like magic itself!

ccs shuya winfShiya Wind, USA
Photo: Kevin Chan

I really enjoyed CCS when I first heard about it in high school. I adapted that as one of my favorite magical girl series at the time, and I love the art style and outfit changes so much. Instead of going towards more familiar outfits to cosplay from, I chose her more obscure artwork outfits. I really love how adorable she is, and I’ve always been very petite and small framed. I have a hard time choosing characters to cosplay because of my small frame, and I feel really lucky when I can find a series I enjoy as well as characters I can try to dress up from that series to match my frame. Sakura is also one of those characters I can smile a lot with, twirl around for photos, and be silly in front of a camera or my Tomoyo cosplayer!

ccs hot cocoaHot-Cocoa Cosplay, Israel
Photo by Amit Stein Photography

Sakura Kinomoto is my favorite character since I was 7 years old! Altough she is just a girl she is so strong and brave, (cute too) we have alot in common! I have cosplayed Sakura from CardCaptor Sakura three times and I’m going to do more cosplays of her! It’s so much fun to play her!

ccs emmaEmma Langley Soryu, England
Photo by CS Photography

Cardcaptor Sakura was one of my favorite shows growing up, it was one of the first anime’s i got into before knowing what anime was, i loved the art style and the cute designs of Sakura’s costumes. It only came natural to me to eventually choice her when i became a cosplayer. I went for her black and pink cat design it was always my favorite outfit of her’s, black and pink was always my favorite colour scheme and of course having cat ears was always going to be my first choice being a cat lover, it defiantly brought back my childhood to finally cosplay her.

ccs pichuuPichu Cosplay

I really loved watching Cardcaptor Sakura! It was one of the first animé that I watched on TV when I was small and I never missed a single episode. I really love the universe of the series. I decided to cosplay Sakura because I wanted to remember the fun moments when I was watching it before. Sakura is really one of my favorite characters and who has a lot of beautiful costumes

 

 

ccs sakuraBhagvati, India

Check out this very cute cosplayer aged just four years who is a big CCS fan! Additionally with the help of her friends and family she took part in a live action parody video for CCS.

ccs tomiaAlthough I couldn’t get a quote, I couldn’t leave out Tomia Cosplay from South Korea!

Special mentions go out to a couple of cosplayers who cosplayed Sakura from Tsubasa Chronicles!

ccs sikaySikay Cosplay, France

I like Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles and wanted to make ny first duo cosplay with Nikita with cute characters from a story we like (she was Tomoyo), Sakura was my first cosplay and at this time I even had the same hair as her, she have really beautifull costumes and I chose the design with sakura flowers on it.

Our Team UK World Cosplay Summit 2014 photo by Emzone Photography

We chose the pair because they have such a historical connection accross all Clamp continuations, and Tsubasa is an interesting and dynamic take on two of our favourite characters. We love them so much we decided to do them again for the world cosplay summit finals in different outfits!

Have you cosplayed Sakura? Please link below!!!

ccs wcs

 

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