Dying Light Game Review

dyinglightAre you a zombie fan? Then read Luke Derbyshire’s review of Dying Light the ultimate zombie game which makes Rick (Walking Dead) look like a wimp.

Dying Light is an action survival game set in a post apocalyptic, dangerous world. Fast paced, you don’t stay in one place for long. Attempting to create a realistic situation of what would happen if zombies took over, and avoid it becoming just a shoot em’ up, the game is separated between day and night.

dying-light4During the day your customised character roams an urban environment, scavenging for supplies and crafting awesome weapons that will help fight off the crazy hordes of zombies you encounter.

At night, the objective is to strategically stay out of sight as the infected become stronger and more aggressive. The menacing inhuman predators are also introduced who only leave their nests to feed at night. If you are too ‘scared’ to play the game on your own don’t worry because you can have up to four friends kicking ass with you online – showing off your customized character design!

Dying-Light-VolatileI was impressed by the graphics in this game, they really look awesome on the Xbox One and the intricate detail of the zombies are amazing. While playing I did come across some glitches and bugs, which I hope will be fixed for the official launch on 27 February, but apart from that the game is awesome. It’s like Dead Island mixed with Mirrors Edge and with a pinch of Far Cry 4.

The character you play, Kyle Crane or ’31’ as he is known when in the quarantine zone provides a detailed back story of how he first landed into Harran (the quarantine zone) via aeroplane, as he first encounters the murderous bandits and is bitten on the arm by one of the infected. While in the Harran, Crane has to carry out a mission but becomes entangled in the plight of the runners who are fighting to survive both the bandits and the infected. I won’t go into that much detail as I don’t want to spoil the game but I can assure you that if you do buy Dying Light you will have fun playing 1 person, but even more fun playing with your friends online completing the set missions.

Rating: 4/5

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The Wish Sisters New J-pop Act Interview

wish sisters 1We speak with new J-pop band on the block The Wish Sisters

Who are The Wish Sisters?
Alice: We are a J-Pop idol unit based in London. We all share a passion for J-Pop and Japanese culture! I am the pink Wish Sister. I am the last Generation 1 member still performing for you all! I love anything cute, pink and sparkly. I am from the Thulian star where there’s lots of glitter and strawberries!
Amelia: I came from the star periwinkle so my birth colour is positively purple! My star is made of macaroons so it’s my favourite treat! You can always find me twirling in a skirt!
Honey: I am the yellow Wish Sister, I love baking treats for my friends! I also love to daydream but It does get me in trouble sometimes most people say I am having an away with the fairies moment. I come from the Jasmine star which is extremely shiny and full of mythical creatures!

Generation 1

Generation 1

What do you do?
Amelia: Wish perform at a lot of different events and conventions around the UK!
Alice: We also create YouTube videos where we post covers dancing to our favourite J-pop songs and film other cute videos and challenges!
Honey: We’d also like to start doing more cooking on our channel since it’s Honey’s favourite hobby besides dancing!

How did you form?
Alice: The group began in 2012 from the three Generation 1 members Alice , Elizabeth and Hana. We all had a strong passion for dancing and a love for idols so I decided to form ‘The Wish Sisters’ a group dedicated for following your dreams. We held auditions last summer and created generation 2 consisting of Amelia and Honey. Unfortunately, Elizabeth and Hana have recently graduated from the group and we will support them with what they decide to pursue in the future.

wish sisters 3Who are your inspiration/musical influences?
Amelia: All of our members share a mutual love for Kyary Pyamu Pyamu! I love her music and style! I am also a fan of Vocaloid and the music and fashion from Love Live.
Honey:I love Kyary Pamyu Pamyu too! I recently saw her at one of her concerts.
Alice:
I generally love Akihabara and their idol culture. My favorite Jpop idols are AKB48, Buono, and of course KPP.

You are performing at London Anime Gaming Con, what can we expect?
Amelia: Alice and I are soooo excited for our live performance at LAGC! We can’t wait to meet everyone and perform. We have an energetic set planned so we hope you will enjoy it as much as we do!
Alice: Our set will have a special Valentines day themed where we will be wearing some special new outfits! We can’t reveal too much though except that we will also be uploading it onto our YouTube for all of our international followers!

What else do you have in-store for the rest of 2015?

Honey: More videos and performances! We hope you will enjoy some of the new things in store for the year ahead!
Amelia: Definitely! Maybe more members too! We need some more sisters to dance with!
Alice: We have lots of goals for 2015 but we don’t want to spoil them. All we can say is expect bigger and cuter things from us this year!

wish sisters 4What makes you different from other existing acts?
Amelia: I think that our passion always shows, we always spend so much time editing, rehearsing and bonding with each other that it becomes our daily routine!
Alice: We try to keep the audience involved with our performances. We think its very important to keep everyone smiling and I love performing for everyone!
Honey: I believe we have big dreams to shine brightly in the future!

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Cosplayer of the week: Jinxie Interview

Photo by Aperture Ashley

Photo by Aperture Ashley

This week the spotlight is on Jinxie, Texas based veteran cosplayer who also studied costume design. You may know her for her kick ass Ryuko from Kill La Kill.

How did you get involved in cosplay?

I first got involved in cosplay when I was 14. I honestly never wanted to learn how to sew until I stumbled across people dressing up as their favourite anime characters on web searches, so I wanted to try as well. My mother showed me the basics, the rest by lots of trial, and error. Seven years later I took sewing classes for my costume design degree which helped me learn a lot more.

jinxie by tobious cosplayious and photographiousWhat are your favourite costumes?

This is really tough to decide on, I do really love my Ryuko Matoi (Kill La Kill) cosplay. It’s surprisingly really comfortable to wear, just really difficult to get out of without any help. I try to cosplay characters that I really fall in love with in an anime. I tend to like stronger characters, or ones that grow into that.

Proudest achievement relating to cosplay?

I would say just having people who watch my work online then find me at conventions, and come up to me. I really like making new friends so I’m always up for meeting through cosplay.

Biggest challenge when making cosplay?

My biggest challenge would be just figuring out how I’m going to break down and construct a costume/prop that I have no idea what is going on with it. This happens mostly when there is a lack of reference photos for a character design.

jinkie yamiLooking at your work your wigs are great! How did you style your Yugi wig?

My Yugi wig was styled pretty quick because I didn’t have much time, it was rather a rush for me. I was going to be cosplaying Yugi along side Malindachan’s Yami for a convention. Luckily, she put together her Yami wig tutorial a few days before so I followed her tutorial a bit, and just tweaked things on my end to make the wig lighter. When I work on wigs I try not to get over stressed by the overall design. I have learned to stop over thinking it, and just cut a little bit off at a time then try it on to make sure all the lengths are where I need them to be. It’s always good to start cutting longer rather then cutting to close to the wig, to avoid messing it up.

What are your favourite part about conventions?

I mainly go to cons to see friends, and cosplay. I don’t really go to panels, or enter contests anymore. I used to enter all the time, but it takes up too much time on Saturday, and for some cons even Friday. I don’t get to see some of my friends often because I moved away so I  would rather spend my whole convention cosplaying, and hanging out with them.

Photo by Immaculate Studios

Photo by Immaculate Studios

What are your hobbies other than cosplay and conventions?

I have a figure collection that is getting out of hand. I started recently this year, and its pretty crazy right now. I’ve also got like 10 figures on my pre-order list… currently. It may go up.

Can you reveal your future cosplay plans?

Yes! My next convention is Anime Matsuri in Houston, TX. Right now my list is looking like Sailor Moon (Sailor Moon Crystal), Raven Prince Mytho (Princess Tutu), Shin (Nana), Esdeath (Akame ga Kill), and Killua (Hunter x Hunter). I also need to finish my Cherry Blossom Sakura Kinomoto(CCS) cosplay, and may bring her along as well.

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Big Hero 6 Review

big hero 6Maiyumi reviews the latest blockbuster Big Hero 6…

Big Hero 6, directed by Don Hall and Chris Williams, is a film many of us have been aching to see since viewing the trailer. Following the worldwide success of Frozen (2013), Disney has yet again created a wonderfully funny and emotional film in the form of 5 wannabe superheroes and a robot. For this review spoilers are minor/limited to what is revealed in trailers, for example Hiro’s brother’s demise.

honey lemonSince Disney purchased Marvel, there hasn’t been a real collaboration when it came to films; so far Disney has stuck with what they know, and Marvel have been working on those big budget live action films. So when Big Hero 6 was announced I was a bit sceptical, now we know Disney never sticks to the original story with their fairy tales, so why should they follow the Big Hero 6 comic? They didn’t even keep the protagonist’s name (Hiro Hamada from the film is actually Hiro Takachiho). However I personally haven’t heard much about Big Hero 6 and the comic series, so I suppose the series could have done with a reboot and Disney have done a fantastic job of it.

The story begins by establishing the relationship between the two brothers, troubled younger brother taking the easy way in life, and his older, more responsible brother showing him how to open up his mind and to develop his gift. The relationship with the two brothers is a great one, Tadashi is able to make Hiro see how much he can accomplish without needing to tell him he knows best, Tadashi shows Hiro his lab and that’s all Hiro needed. Early on it is also established that the brother share a strong bond between them since the death of their parents (Now it wouldn’t be a Disney film without dead or missing parents now would it?). After the school is partially destroyed by a fire, Hiro sets it upon himself to find ‘the man in the kabuki mask’ who he believes started the fire, which killed Tadashi. He starts a superhero group using the projects in his brother’s lab. Including Baymax, his brother’s robot in the group lineup.

gogoNow for the characters, the film’s main protagonist is Hiro Hamada, a 14-year-old robotics genius, who prefers to partake in Disney’s version of Robot Wars, then to actually use his gifts. Unlike his brother Tadashi who is also a robotics genius, his mostly spends his time getting his brother out of trouble and spends his time at his ‘Nerd school’ as Hiro puts it. Both the brothers live with their Aunt Cass after the death of their parents. It isn’t until Tadashi takes Hiro on a trip to his lab, that he meets Tadashi’s friends and sees for himself all the amazing work they accomplish at ‘Nerd school’. Now none of Tadashi’s friends are typical science geeks. Honey Lemon is a tall, pretty woman who loves anything girly, she gets excited when she is able to paint her project pink. The bubbly character in the group she comes across sweet and caring, especially with Hiro. GoGo Tamago, the rebel she isn’t excited unless she is going fast and ‘breaking traffic laws’ according to Wasabi, the ultra conscious driver of the group. Not much can be said for her personality until nearer the end of the film when she confronts Hiro, but through out she remains calm and cool. Now Wasabi is tall, dark with bh6broad shoulders, he has what looks like to be OCD when it comes to tools in his lab, and he’s so conscious of consequences, even in car chases he stops at traffic lights. I found myself laughing out loud more with Wasabi than any other characters (or should I say human characters?). Now there is Fred, Fred is the school mascot and pretty much stays the same for the entire film, he is the mascot for the school and the superhero team. (Fun fact he is voiced  by the recognisable T.J Miller aka Tuffnut in How to Train Your Dragon, 2010). For this character I would recommend staying in the cinema until after the credits, after all it still is Marvel, stay seated for an extra scene with Fred. Lastly Baymax, now Baymax is a robot created by Tadashi for the purpose of medical use. He is mostly a large marshmallow looking robot with a monitor on his stomach. I must say Baymax was absolutely hilarious; he had just the right thing to say and the most inappropriate time, and towards the end, this robot was able to stir the audience’s emotions, which would be difficult for a robot, who I would assume doesn’t have any (wasn’t mentioned that he was programmed with any). The bond that Hiro and Baymax relationship develops through out the film and was quite emotional and very entertaining to watch.

hiroOver all the film itself was enjoyable to watch and I would defiantly recommend it to anyone. The animation itself was smooth and the character designs themselves were really suited to each individual. Now I have to talk about the city the film is set in, San Fransokyo a combination of San Francisco and Tokyo, I found myself looking at the buildings in the background through out the film. The designs were fantastic, a perfect balance of Western and Asian style while still looking very modern. It was defiantly a city I would love to live in. So in conclusion if you are on the fence about this film, I would highly recommend everyone to see this film, its one the whole family can watch and enjoy.

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Kotaku UK X Gamer Disco at The Book Club, Shoredicth

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Short and sweet post of my Wednesday evening!

Although I am not much of a gamer, I am a fan of music, alcohol (in moderation), and of course Shoreditch itself so I decided to pop by the Gamer Disco held in the basement of the The Book Club.

Hosted in conjunction with Kotaku UK, the event featured a variety of gaming set-ups placed around the venue and projected on the bar walls; allowing you to play with friends, strangers or simply watch in awe as people achieved unbelievable high scores or messed up and died quickly and easily (me).

20150121_224515psWhile this was going on, different DJs played throughout the evening featuring DJ Jet Set Rory, DJ Olio (8 Bit Vomit) and Tom Smith from JPU Records. As the evening went on tunes morphed from chiptune, gaming themes(Sonic, Pokémon etc.) to remixes of popular J-pop idol Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.

Throughout the evening tournaments and high score challenges took place – even I joined in on the Pacman challenge! I wasn’t very good, my highest score was around 7,800 – I could blame the stiff and slightly sticky controllers but I know it was just me sucking.

Overall, a chilled out evening where you could grab a beer and play some Pacman. Simples.

P.S. Apologies for the quality of photos they are from my phone!

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The Sky Crawlers Film Review

sky crawlers 1Maiyumi reviews number 100 on her list, The Sky Crawlers – be warned it does contain minor spoilers.

Sky Crawlers (2008) directed by Mamoru Oshii, centers around fighter pilot Yuichi Kannami. The film begins with planes in the air shooting at each other while the credits roll. This is a good start to the film, establishing the conflict the characters will face (war) while telling the audience who the director and producer are etc. As most people (including myself I admit) skip the credits and it keeps the viewer interested.

The story begins as Kannami arrives at the airfield and where we are introduced to the other members of this airfield along with our protagonist. Including the head female mechanic and her dog, the other fighter pilots and the boss Kusanagi (one of the few women on base).

sky crawlers 2Now at the beginning I was fixed on the animation, the planes themselves are a different style of animation to the characters, which blend with each other well, I do like the choice of animation when the planes are up in the air or just stationary at the air field.

As Kannami arrives it doesn’t take long for him to be inquisitive about the previous pilot to his plane. This stirs some interest for the audience, as all the other characters seem to change the subject when the question comes up. The only one who gives him an answer is his boss, Kusanagi, who promptly tells Kannami that he doesn’t need to know. Now the main character doesn’t strike me as confident as he doesn’t pursue the subject but brings it up again much later on.

sky crawlers 3I did find the character progression through the film to be a bit slow, I didn’t expect much at the beginning as that is when the story is being introduced to the audience, however later on I didn’t see the characters use much of their emotional spectrum. When Kannami and one of the other fighter pilots end up at this diner, it seemed nice as I was expecting to see some bonding between the characters, however this encounter said more for the friend as he then introduced Kannami to a couple of escorts (which they both end up in bed with).

There were a couple of time during the film I found that the character had some development, when Kannami and Kusanagi stay at the bases guest house they have dinner and begin talking to each other, with this part sex between the character was implied; as Kusanagi was saying to Kannami “Would you like to stay here with me?” and referring to the previous pilot who at this point it is established he was a former lover of Kusanagi’s. She then beings to undo her clothing, not in a sexual way, but in a more ‘just got home from work and tired’ sort of way and all this at the kitchen table. I really enjoyed this scene as I felt it was one of the few scenes where I felt both characters really shared something.

The Sky CrawlersKusanagi is Kannami’s love interest however the love between them is subtle, they don’t openly express their feelings for each other at all, but it is expressed in other ways, for example not shooting Kusanagi when she asks Kannami to do so, as she shot and killed the previous pilot.

There was one part of information I did find confusing at the beginning of the film, it’s cleared up nearer the end however this left me uncertain for most of the film; and it was because the pilots were Kildren. Now Kildren are a type of person who doesn’t grow old, they continue to look like teenagers until they are killed in battle. Through out the film there are a few comments, about ‘dealing with children’ or them not being adults. Later on in the film a female fighter pilot is introduced when the airfield are relocated temporarily. Now this pilot seems to be having an identity crisis (which no one really pays attention to) she is talking to Kannami when she basically tells the audience what exactly a Kildren is and why there are no adult pilots. Kildren are used in battle as they only die when they are killed, they don’t grow old so there is no need for retirement and more time to perfect their skills. Which is why when the main enemy is revealed, it is surprising for the pilots to learn that the ‘Teacher’ (the un-killable pilot) is an adult.

sky crawlers 5Now with the ‘Teacher’ a small detail did seem to annoy me, his trademark on his plane is a black jaguar, which to me doesn’t make much sense. I understand with Japanese culture, someone who you could benefit to learn something from them, you could call them sensei, which translated would be teacher, but why the jaguar? Towards the end of the film Kannami goes after Teacher, and calls him father, now this surprised me, as I couldn’t recall when this bit of information was discovered, now this may be my own fault as at this point my attention was fading.

One of the negatives I found with this film was that the story does take its time, the film itself is about 2 hours long, so it has plenty of time, but it the story progression seems really slow. I found that my attention was fading in and out during the film. Approximately 25 minutes into the film, the only elements established are the characters names and roles, the curiosity of this previous pilot and the fact that there is some sort of war going on. Now during this point of the film I was a bit skeptical about if there was a war, or some sort of conflict; as yes there were battles in the air however on ground I wasn’t given the impression that there was a war going on, the airfield itself was small with only a handful of pilots, no one is seen using the artillery weapons. However the film is about the fighter pilots so I would assume including other war elements would be distracting the audience from the fighter pilots. When there was a threat to the airbase (a few enemy planes were spotted heading towards the air field by the main character) you don’t see any actual battle, when Kannami arrives the battle is over, no ones dead and the boss is just pissed she wasn’t warned sooner.

The Sky CrawlersAfter I had finished watching the film my impressions were that it was too long, they could have told that story in a shorter amount of time, and I felt during the film I was waiting for something to happen. 2 hours was too long, perhaps 1.30 hours would have been better. I also failed to see why they characters being Kildren mattered, it would have had the same effect if the characters were simply young, in their early 20’s perhaps. The film itself is good for those who like films where the audience can make their own conclusions, rather than having the narrative tell the audience how to feel or tell them exactly what the characters are feeling or the reasons for their actions. If you prefer films where a lot goes on, its fast pace with action, I wouldn’t recommend it, especially for younger viewers who need action to keep their attention. However if you do have a couple of hours to spare then by all means watch Sky Crawlers, it is an interesting film.

The story was good and thought provoking, however the pace made the film drag on. Perhaps if the film was about 1 hour and 20 -30 minutes, I would give it a higher rating.

Top Scene: When Kannami and Kusanagi went bowling, it was the best scene where both characters both showed that they were letting their guard down, and beginning to show that they mean something to each other. Which is only reinforced as they end up having sex in the car.

Verdict: 2/5.

As a side note, the list where I found the top 100-anime films, keeps changing so I will be doing my best to review 100 anime films. So if the films reviewed are not in the current correct order that will be because the rankings have changed! The list can be found here.

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One Piece Music Symphony Comes to London

one piece 2The One Piece Music Symphony is coming to Cadogan Hall, London on Saturday 7 February, 8pm for two hour concert.

Following Princess Mononoke’s theatre adaptation and Nine Worlds, an annual Final Fantasy concert, it is great to see more anime influences hitting the London Westend!

For those unfamiliar One Piece is an anime based on the manga which follows the trials and triumphs of Luffy as he explores the ocean in search of the world’s ultimate treasure known as “One Piece” in order to become the next Pirate King. The series has proven very popular, following in the league of fan favourites Naruto, Fairy Tail and Bleach with over 100 episodes and counting. Not only a great show combining comedy and drama it has a beautiful soundtrack.

one piece 1The man behind the music,  Kohei Tanaka, musical director of the series, has taken his passion and pieced together this live event for fans. Accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra conducted by Jean Thorel, it is set to be a night to remember, two hours of harmonies played alongside scenes from the anime projected on a large screen accompanied by live music of the original score. I can’t wait and look forward to attending this one off experience collaborating anime and classical music.

Incredibly there are some tickets left including a package which involves a meet and greet with the legend Kohei Tanaka himself!

IMG_9979psHaving Colleen Clinkenbeard (voice of Luffy) appear at London Anime Gaming Con last year, I know many of you are big One Piece fans and hope to see you all there!

Those thinking of attending, or have already purchased their ticket may want to join this Facebook group where attendees/cosplayers are meeting beforehand.

Tickets can be purchased here ranging from £25-7

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London Super Costume Championships at LSCC 2015

IMG_4792psWinner of our Best Cosplay Contest 2014 in our LoEC Convention awards, London Super Costume Championship is back, and set to be better than ever with early registration open 16 January. The event takes place during London Super Comic Con 14-15 March 2015 at London Excel Centre.

Last year we saw YaYa Han, Riddle’s Messy Wardrobe and Tabitha Lyons judge and crown Nikita and Annshella Cosplay the winner for their Elsa and Anna (Frozen) costumes. The pair were closely followed by runners up (and ECG winners) Laura Sindall and Cosplex for their nostalgic She-ra cosplays .

This year, judges from around the world (well America, France and Germany) will gather again to judge the championship across two days and make the gruelling, tough decision of who will win the title and the grand prize of two tickets to Dragon Con, plus flights and 5 nights’ accommodation paid for!

 So who are this year’s judges?

IMG_4824psYaya Han, international professional cosplayer and star of Heroes of Cosplay. YaYa will be returning to check everyone’s seams and offering some tip top advice to this year’s contestants. An inspiration to many, it will be great to have her back!

IMG_4836psAs last year’s winners, Nikita and Annshella will now be on the other side of the  judging table. Travelling from France, these skilled cosplayers will also have the ability to emphasise with  contestants having been in their shoes.

kamui tablante photo

Kamui by Tablante Photography

Kamui Cosplay, born in Uzbekistan she moved to Germany when she was five. The talented cosplayer is not only a wizard at worbla but dedicated to providing tutorials and guides to other cosplayers. Self publsishing best-selling books about  painting, armour making and her latest release “The Book of Cosplay Lights”. We could all certainly learn a thing or too from her!

Photo by Cosplay Boom

Photo by Cosplay Boom

Bill Coran from Punished Props  specilaises in making space guns, fantasy weapons, and elaborate sets of armour for a living by building high quality replica props for clients all around the world. Bill also loves to share his passion and techniques with others through videos and digital guides.

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Popette Cosplay

The contest is 50% craft, 50% performance, which means it is bound to be another show stopper event! Last year the audience saw; costume changes, confetti cannons, monologues and martial arts, it was one heck of a show. I for one can’t wait to see what the 2015 entrants have in store!

It all may sound very overwhelming, but don’t be afraid to enter! Ben Hunt, LSCC Cosplay Organiser highlights, “To anyone who has worked hard to create a costume that they’re proud of, now’s the time to show it off! Being involved in any competition is a fantastic experience, and at LSCC it’s also a great chance to talk to some of the most famous and successful cosplayers in the world.”

Jazzhands Cosplay

Jazzhands Cosplay

As mentioned above, early registration opens 16 January there are of course some rules, please read them carefully here along with information on how to register.

 Tickets are avaialble to purchase here:

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Cosplayer of the week: Castiel – Angel of the Lord Cosplay Interview

Jordi Corbilla Photography

Jordi Corbilla Photography

 Castiel – Angel from the Lord Cosplay known for his awesome Cas from our favourite show Supernatural starring Misha Collins, Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, shares his love of Supernatural, who he ships and how he made those magnificent wings!

How did you get involved in the crazy world of cosplay? 

Many years ago, when I was but a child, I was obsessed with films like Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Back to the Future. I grew up watching these things and thinking to myself that I would love to be these characters. Around 2004 I began to study media and fell in love with costumes, film and television. Not long after this I learned more about conventions and events around the UK and signed up with a local Sci-Fi club to help raise money for charities at these events. I continue to do this with many clubs and for many charities. My main page is obviously Castiel on Facebook but my main group is The TARDIS Time Team Assemble.

abusive arts

abusive arts

Most will know you for your Castiel (Supernatural) cosplay, why did you choose to cosplay him?

I had not heard about Supernatural until April 2014. A friend of mine kept telling me that I would enjoy the show, and she was not wrong. I watched 8 seasons in a month, immediately fell in love with the characters, plot and the actors. When Castiel came into the show… I knew he would be one to watch. I decided to take a chance and put his costume together and haven’t looked back since.

How did you make the wings for this cosplay, were there any challenges in the process?

The wings were a labour of love. I am not the first, or the last, person to make wings for a Castiel costume. I began making the wings pretty much as soon as I ‘found’ Castiel but it wasn’t until June that I managed to get them together. Another Castiel costumer had made some very nice wings and he was kind enough to give me a few tips on a couple of the elements that would help me (backing material and feather cutting). The wings are made from PVC plumbling/bathroom tubing, black bedding sheets, cotton, real turkey feathers, craft feathers, satin lycra, wood, bolts and a shed load of hot glue. The main challenge for me was getting the wings to open and stay open on their own. I actually made 5 different versions of the opening pulley device before reverse engineering an umbrella to create a “clipping” and “locking” mechanism.

Wallace Iles Photographic

Wallace Iles Photographic

Team Dean or  Sam?

Dean. Remember I said I immediately fell in love with Dean? Well… I did raise him from perdition.

Are you a Cas and Dean shipper?

I’m not really all that fond of the whole “shipping” thing but I know many people enjoy it. I’m all for free speech, thought and fan fiction for sure though! With that being said, when it comes to “shipping” I am always happy to flirt with Dean. I just feel they are more likely to be friends that love each other rather than men who are IN love with each other.

Have you been watching the new series of Supernatural?

I have of course been watching. I am not currently 100% up to date yet though. I tend to allow myself to fall behind in watching them so when I get time to watch them I have two or three to watch. I think we are all so used to being able to just watch shows back to back that when it comes to episodes at a time… it just gets frustrating! The season is great so far… although I do feel they missed a trick with DemonDean though. Spoilers so I won’t explain.

cas dr whoHave you met any of the Supernatural cast? 

I have been lucky enough to meet Curtis Armstrong (Metatron) and Amanda Tapping (Naomi). They were both amazing. They we so very sweet and both up for a good chat about the show. It was quite amusing though because I had photo shoots with both of them individually. Each time I had to explain to them what I was going to do. “Excuse me Curtis… I am about to unfurl and extend my wings… would you be kind enough to take a small step forward as so I do not take your eye out with a feather?” Haha. They were very eager to see what I was talking about and I do not think they were disappointed.

Do you think it is harder for male cosplayers to get recognition for their craft?

I don’t think it’s a case of it being harder for males over females. I have not come across a situation where any of my male friends have felt less than female costumers. My friends and I pride ourselves on not only our costumes but our work with the public, children, charity organisations and costuming clubs. We do not really look for recognition or fame or attention. I think these days it’s a very even split with male and female costumers.

cas dr who 10What can we find you doing outside of cosplay/conventions?

Outside of my costumes, by day, I am a primary school teacher. I teach 8/9 year old children in a school near London. I spend most of my time teaching and my spare time I spend on playing the guitar, the blue harmonica, watching films/TV shows, playing games or building costumes. I occasionally lend my voice to voice acting projects (mostly minor things on YouTube here and there) and my main passion is costume distressing/prop weathering.

Can you reveal any future cosplay plans? 

My ‘current’ costumes include Indiana Jones, Castiel, The Tenth Doctor (David Tennant – Doctor Who), The Eighth Doctor (Paul McGann – Doctor Who), Rick Grimes (Walking Dead) and Sherlock (BBC). I am now piecing together a Captain Jack Sparrow costume from Pirates of the Caribbean – Curse of the Black Pearl. It’s taking a long time, a lot of weathering, distressing and love, care and attention. 2015 is going to be a great year. Savvy?

Remember to follow Castiel – Angel of the Lord Cosplay

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100 Anime Films with Maiyumi


emilyWith the start of 2015, now is the time for more content and more reviews! My name is Emily, the name I go by online and at conventions is Maiyumi. My role here at League of Extraordinary Cosplayers is to write reviews on films and comics. For the New Year I have started a new segment for the film reviews, called 100 Anime Films with Maiyumi!

I recently found a post on the popular website Reddit.com, where a user had post a list of his top 100 anime films. So as a challenge for 2015, I will be watching every one of these films and writing my own review! The list can be found here – why not join in watching with me? I would love to hear what you think too! I will be starting with number 100, The Sky Crawlers (2008) directed by Mamoru Oshii.

Aside from the 100 anime films, I will also review other films that I see, both live action or animated.

I look forward to be glued to the TV for you!

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Tofu Cute – New Kawaii Portsmouth Shop Owner Reveals All

tofu cute shop 1
Most of our shopping related to cosplay and Japanese items happen online but Tofu Cute are changing that and have invaded our high streets, starting with Portsmouth!

How did Tofu Cute begin?

Tofu Cute started in 2010 after our team, who had previously been involved with importing and retailing Japanese toys and gadgets, saw the increase in popularity of kawaii culture and Japanese snacks in the UK. We began selling online only, but towards the end of 2010 we were invited to exhibit at a small J-culture event in London, and our stalls / booths at events snowballed from there!

What influenced the decision in advancing Tofu Cute from an online store (& pop up at conventions), to becoming a shop on the high street?

We have actually been based at the location where the shop is for almost 2 years – this is where our team works from, and where our web orders are dispatched from! So, it made sense to open up the store front to the public, as we are working here daily and it is one of the main routes into Portsmouth city centre.

What was the process in setting up Tofu Cute on the hight street?

There was a lot of renovation work to be done in the shop and on the front of the building, which took the majority of the time and resources, plus a lot of pots of pink paint! Once the basics were in place, actually setting up the products was a similar process to setting up our pop-up shop at conventions!

tofu cute shop

What was the biggest challenge in setting up your shop?

The biggest challenge was actually setting a deadline and sticking to it. The Tofu Cute team has so many other projects to work on, such as organising our booths at events, sourcing stock, photographing new products for the website, and order dispatch – it was very easy for the shop project to take a back seat during busy periods. However we knew that we had to get it open before Christmas, so we switched priorities, put our minds to it and got it done – just over a week before Christmas! >w<

What affect have you seen Tofu Cute shop have on the locals?

We managed to build up quite a buzz of interest from the people who pass by, because the front of the building has been getting gradually pinker over the course of a year, and our company name has been displayed at the front for a long time. So people have become curious and visited our website to find out what exactly we’re all about! The shop window display was a lot of fun to set up, and we’re planning to change this for every main season / occasion – it allows for a lot of creativity, and a lot of people have stopped to gawp at it.

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Do you think Tofu Cute’s presence in Portsmouth will help encourage an interest of Japanese culture?

We hope so! The joys of opening up here rather than a city with more access to J-culture such as London or Brighton, is that local Japanese culture fans are happy and surprised that a shop like this has opened up here rather than in one those more “obvious” places! We’ve all been really pleasantly surprised by the high number of J-culture fans based in Portsmouth which we’ve met since the shop opened. A lot of them have a great knowledge of particular areas such as cosplay, J-fashion, food etc. It’s also amazing that some people have travelled from quite away far to visit, we’re so thankful to everyone! Similarly we’ve had locals visiting who only have a very vague idea of Japanese culture,  and have been interested to learn more about the items in the shop.

What are the favourite items you are selling at the moment?

The six new flavours of ramune (Japanese soda) are great – we’ve sold ramune for many years, but this is the first time new flavours have been added to the range, and the bottles are really cute. Also, the Amuse products are absolutely adorable. We’ve sold their Alpacasso Alpaca range for a while but now we have a lot more of their ranges (some of which aren’t on the website yet, but will be soon!) including: Loppy Bunny, Rosy Wooly the Sheep, Gogorin Panda, Gomarachi Seal, Tuchineko Cats, Red Pandas & Raccoons.

Plans for Tofu Cute in 2015?

We plan to widen our product range a lot with new ranges of cute stuff and snacks, and develop the website product range on our sister company for Japanese fashion (Dreamy Bows). There are also a few finishing touches to complete in the shop, such as wall graphics, and we’ll be closing for a couple of weeks while our office is renovated – we’re not quite there yet, but almost! We’ll be exhibiting at a lot of events as always, so there’s a lot to keep us busy this year!

Thank you, we hope to come visit Tofu Cute at 128-130 Kingston Road soon! Remember to follow Tofu Cute on Twitter @tofu_cute

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LoEC Convention Awards 2014: Results

The general public were asked to nominate and later vote in several categories for the League of Extraordinary Cosplayers Convention Awards 2014! Over 1300 of you voted, below are the results, summarised with the reasons of why you chose them! See the 2013 results here

Best Expo

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MCM London Expo

MCM London Expo, took the title of best expo for the second year – up against some tough competition from the likes of London Super Comic Con and Hyper Japan. Many commented it was still ‘the biggest and best’ as the event drew in a record of 110,000 attendees as well a guest appearance from Daniel Radcliffe! MCM has lots planned for 2015, with Felicia Day already announced for MCM May 2015.

Best Convention

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Leon Chiro at Kitacon


Kitacon

After a break Kitacon made a return to the scene in 2014 it seems it was sorely missed, winning back your hearts and the title of ‘Best Convention 2014′ with guests such as Leon Chiro, Professor Elemental and Ellen McLain. The Kitacon Invasion will be back with registrations opening 8 January follow @Kitacon for the latest news.

Best Crew

IMG_3952psAnimeLeague

For the second year running, AnimeLeague picks up this title of best crew. AnimeLeague crew at Alcon, London Anime Con as well as Showmasters events. If you are a regular on the convention circuit chances you likely would of seen them at an event. Voters commented on how helpful, welcoming and friendly AL crew were. As a volunteer for AL events, this is a big honour so extra special thanks to those that voted!

Best Evening Entertainment

fox excelThe Fox -MCM Expo London

A bit of a bizarre one compared to the other nominees (Alcon, Kitacon and Sunnycon), but this is what you chose as your winner for best evening entertainment! Voters commented that this is the place to go to hang with all your friends after a con…and make some new ones. Perhaps highlighting it is not where you are but who you are with!

Best Exhibitor

tofu cuteTofu Cute

This year Tofu Cute steals the award with its kawaii accessories and Japanese food! Voters commented that they chose Tofu Cute because they were able to buy and try products that are unavailable in the UK. Others enjoyed the innovative candy festival held at Hyper Japan by the brand. For those who are fans of Tofu Cute they have recently opened up a shop in Portsmouth.

Remember to check out the other exhibitors nominees; Tokyo Toys, Genki Gear and AnimeZ

Best Cosplay Contest

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Nikita & Annshella Cosplay win the championship

London Super Comic Con

The UK sure isn’t short of cosplay contests with the UK taking part in ECG and WCS, but it seems it was the London Super Cosplay Championships that took your breath away. The event raised the stakes with a prize of two tickets to Dragoncon in Atlanta and flew in guest judges YaYa Han and Riddle’s Messy Wardrobe from America. It certainly left you impressed especially with contestants efforts in a nail biting finale on the Sunday.

Community Award

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Winners of the special community award goes to AnimeLeague! Reasons for voting AnimeLeague as the winner included the friendly team and for the regular meets they host all over the country (not just London), the online forum and ability to contribute at events. Many commented that through an AL meet/con they made some great friends.

Best Convention Guest

stan leeStan Lee

Is it any wonder Stan Lee, creator of the Fantastic Four, X-Men, Hulk and many more won this award? Crowds flocked for his appearance at London Film Comic in July, some queuing for hours in the heat for the opportunity to meet Stan the man. Turning 92 a few days ago, the comic book legend is still attending cons in his nineties! Voters commented how impressed they were by Stan’s dedication to attending an event at his age, and a general love and respect for his work.

Videographer/Photographer of the Year

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Sneaky Zebra

This was so close and all our nominees: Food and Cosplay, Shades On, Sneaky Zebra and Smile 250 are such a talented bunch (I recommend checking out their work) who have helped showcase cosplay. The general public made the tough decision and voted Sneaky Zebra as this year’s winner! Voters were impressed with the Sneaky Zebra lads above the bar cosplay music videos (CMV) which cover cons internationally, often incorporating a few surprise celebrity guest appearances!

Cosplayer of the Year

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The Super Maians – By Kingfisher Images

The Super Maians

Again, this was so close and all the nominees in this category are extremely talented cosplayers (The Super Maians, Cosplex, Twinfools, Valentine Cosplay and Sketch McDraw) and have contributed to the community in various ways: online tutorials, convention panels, representing the UK in international competitions and just generally spreading cosplay positivity!

The Super Maians, took the crown with voters commenting how inspired they were by the cosplaying family – as well as a little envious of not having Sonia and Tiago as their own parents!  With admiration of their craft and community spirit, the family have built an array of costumes from the DC and Marvel universe and beyond with plenty more in-store for us next year!

 

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Cereal Killer Cafe Review

cereal cafe 2psChiquitita Cosplay, Aisha Anime and I embarked on a late night trip to the newly opened Cereal Killer Café in the heart of Brick Lane. It is the only café dedicated to the popular breakfast food in the world.

As you enter the quirky establishment the walls are covered with boxes of cereals from around the world including a special Pokémon edition which I desperately wanted to try but disappointedly this was not for sale, however fear not, there were still 120 varieties of cereals to choose from! With a wide selection from staple classics such as Kellogg’s cornflakes, American favourite Lucky Charms and more obscure international creations you would unlikely have heard of unless you are a cereal nut, like owners Alan and Gary Geery. The café also has 30 different types of milk to cater all dietary requirements and tastes (I never knew there were so many types of milk!) as well as numerous syrups and toppings.

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L-R Seasonal cereal and Reese Puffs

Choosing cereal as more of a dessert than a breakfast, and with our notorious sweet tooth we went for the most sugary calorific treats on offer. Definitely not the cereals you would have every day for actual breakfast – well maybe in America! With the wide selection It took us forever to choose (ok, like 20 minutes) but the staff were friendly and happy to make suggestions. My particular request was, “what is the weirdest cereal you have?” In the end I mixed two seasonal American cereals together; one strawberry flavoured in the shape of ghosts available only at Halloween,  accompanied by a Christmas cereal which can only be described as multi-coloured confetti! Not quite sure why that is Christmassy. The two went surprisingly well together – very fruity! Aisha Anime also went for an American cereal, Reese Puffs, compiled of chocolate and peanut butter flavoured balls mimicking the popular sweet. Chiquitita Cosplay decided not to have cereal and ordered a soy hot chocolate which came sprinkled with lucky charm marshmallows. Additionally to cereal the café serves a range of hot drinks, cakes and pop tarts for those who aren’t cereal lovers.

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Chiquitita Cosplay with a Lucky Charms Hot Chocolate

The venue is not just covered with cereal boxes, it is full of retro items from the 80s and 90s; troll dolls, board games and cabbage patch kids with some Grrrreaat cereal cells and artwork such as Tony the tiger from Frosties plastered on the walls. Numerous black and white TV screens on the wall which play Thundercats, He-Man etc. All Aimed to create a flashback of childhood nostalgia of eating breakfast while watching TV before you went to school.

It is likely you have seen the Cereal Killer Café in the media following claims of it being too expensive at £3.50 for a bowl, whether you agree with this statement or not, I am sure you have paid more for less in your life (personally I am more shocked at people who buy M&Ms from M&M World – now that’s extortion!) and from previously working in Shoreditch for around a year I can tell tony tiger psyou the majority spend at least £3+ a day on coffee before work. No one kicked up a fuss with the equal novelty nearby cat café – review here which even charges a £5 entry fee. Unfortunately, it seems the media dislikes hipsters with beards. Cereal Killer Café is a novelty, fun experience to enjoy once whether you’re a London local or tourist.

So ditch your Starbucks and Costa one morning and try something new!

P.S. Sorry about the quality of photos, I didn’t have my camera with me!

becca aisha estips

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Jem and the Holograms Comic – Interview with Ross Campbell (Artist) and Kelly Thomspson (Writer)

jem comic 2As a huge fan of the original Jem and the Holograms cartoon by Hasbro in the 80s, I was very excited to find out that not only was 2015 the year of Jem the movie but the launch of a new Jem comic series. Truly, truly, truly outrageous! I chatted with Ross Campbell (artist) and Kelly Thompson (writer) of the series to find out more…

How did you become involved with the Jem comic project?

ROSS: Kelly had heard about it through one of her contacts, and then I hooked up with the editor, John Barber, through my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles editor who also works at IDW. Kelly and I put together a pitch, we did a conference call with John, and that was pretty much that!

KELLY: Yeah, like Ross said, I had been talking to an editor at IDW and she let me know about the project and put my name forward. Ross and I had been looking for a project to work together on for years and he’s such a huge Jem fan this seemed like the perfect project. We got the approval to submit a pitch and put together something really comprehensive including two new illustrations from Ross – one of Jem and one of Pizzazz – and here we are!

Jem and the Holograms cartoon

Jem and the Holograms cartoon

Were you a fan of the original show? 

ROSS: I liked the show but I didn’t watch a ton of it, I didn’t generally watch a lot of cartoons as a kid. I liked that all the major characters were women, I’ve always gravitated toward that, I liked the look of the characters, the theme song of course. And I HATED the Misfits for always going after the Holograms, I took it really seriously as a kid, so I guess I hoped the Misfits would get sent to jail and that tension appealed to me.


jem comics 12KELLY:
Haha. I love that Ross wanted the Misfits to go to jail…I don’t remember feeling that way but I’m sure I also hated them, I was pretty young and they were always so unreasonably angry at Jem and The Holograms! I was a big fan of the show — Jem was both like all the other cartoons I loved from around the same time (G.I. Joe, Thundercats, Dungeons & Dragons, etc.) and yet it was totally different than all those shows because it was so focused on female characters. There were interesting female characters I loved on all those shows, but Jem was wall to wall with female characters – they were ALWAYS the leads – which was so unique and cool to me back then.

jem comics 5What were your main influences for the character designs?

ROSS: I don’t know if I have any specific influences other than the original designs and fashion in general. I know a bit about modern pop stars like Beyonce and Nicki Minaj and Lady Gaga, so there’s some of that in there, but mostly my own fashion sense. I also have folders full of outfits and hairstyles that I come across on the internet, so I distill a lot of that into my own designs and mix and match as well as making things up from scratch.

jem comics 6What is the plot for the comic, how accurately does it follow the original series?

KELLY: I think in the pitch we said something like “revisiting some of the classic stories but in a 21st century way that addresses the changing face of music, media, and celebrity” – so don’t be surprised to see us revisit classic ideas like a battle of the bands face off, but with a more modern twist and the Starlight Girls but in an updated way.


What were the biggest challenges you faced in the process?

ROSS: So far I’d say there haven’t really been any big ones! It’s been very smooth so far. I think the biggest challenges are on their way, and I’m nervous.

jem comics 3KELLY: Well, it’s still early, so things could get much more challenging, but I think the hardest thing is to take something that people already love and have huge nostalgia for and turn it into something that both respects the original and re-invents it into something more modern and relevant. I like to say that we have nostalgia working painfully against us because things we’re passionately nostalgic for we don’t necessarily remember accurately. So creating something new, you’re basically trying to outdo something that doesn’t even really exist – but has rather taken a perfect shape in someone’s mind. All I can hope is that the die-hard fans will find something wonderful in this reinvention, while we can also make a ton of brand new die-hard fans.

jem comics 9Did you have any alternative designs/concepts which were discarded?

ROSS: As far as the art goes, at least, no. I had to design the characters really quickly in order to get the first cover out there, so I didn’t have time to sit and mess with the designs or mull them over, so there wasn’t much of anything on the cutting room floor. Kelly and I collaborate on some of the story together, and there were some ideas we got rid of or decided to do something else with or move to different spots in the story, but nothing big was removed that I can think of.

KELLY: Yeah, Ross is right, we had to move really fast on the design side especially. But Ross is really awesome about sharing his process with me, shooting me sketches and letting me give my opinion. He frequently ignores me completely, as he should, since he’s the visual genius, but I enjoy seeing and being a part of his process immensely. I hope fans – both new and old – will give a us a chance to convince them that we really have put a lot of thought into this book. More generally, IDW and Hasbro have been really encouraging of all our ideas – visual and otherwise which is great. 

jem comics 11Out of all of the characters you have drawn/written for Jem, do you have a favourite?

ROSS: Stormer! She is the best. I love both her personality and the new design I came up with for her. I also really like drawing Aja because of her hair.

KELLY: Oh man. It’s really early yet and I hate picking favorites. Traditionally, leads are not my favorite characters but I really think we’re doing something smart and interesting with Jem/Jerrica that I hope people will respond to and find emotionally engaging. Aja has always been a favorite of mine, both from back in the day and our new Aja. I lovvvve what we’re doing with Jetta…especially her design by Ross. All that said, Kimber, as the youngest and most ambitious Hologram, is proving to be great fun write.

ROSS: Jetta is pretty awesome, too, yeah. But I have a feeling I’m going to be kicking myself later on for giving her such complicated hair.

jem comics 10Ultimate question, Jem and the Holograms or The Misfits?

ROSS: The Misfits!

KELLY: Oh man! Well I really like a lot of the changes we’re making with The Holograms and Jem so I want to say The Holograms but I also really like the way we’re building The Misfits story too…and The Misfits songs are way easier for me to write, so…MISFITS!

Can we expect to see some future designs of Synergy, The Stingers and other characters being released/shown in the comics?

ROSS: Definitely Synergy! We’ll also have a new version of the Starlight Girls, and Raya will show up eventually. I have my fingers crossed for Techrat and Danse.

jem comics 8KELLY: I’ve seen the Synergy sketch. It’s awesome. Rio too, and Jerrica! You guys should all be jealous of me! Unfortunately I don’t know when those will be released…as you can imagine we need to space these things out a bit. There is no plan for The Stingers in the first arc but maybe later. As Ross said, Raya will be showing up later – right now we plan to introduce her as a key part of the second story arc.

jem comics 7ROSS: Synergy still needs a lot of work, though! Oh, and Clash! I think we’re having her show up, too.

KELLY: Oh yeah, we’re definitely having Clash – she’ll show up in the first arc. If I had my way the Clash design will be just like the 2014 doll, which I lovvvve. Such an awesome look.

Are you looking forward to the Jem movie – do you think it will do the 80s cartoon justice?

KELLY: I actually know very little about the movie. Probably because it’s still so far away I’ve only seen these tiny little glimpses of it – too little to judge anything. But I’ll certainly be going to see it.


jem comics 4What other projects are you working on at the moment that we should keep an eye out for?

ROSS: I should have some news soon-ish about my comic Shadoweyes, and I hope to keep going on my web comic Can’t Look Back.

KELLY: The second book in my Storykiller series (Storykiller 2: All Of Them Are True) is scheduled for release in the spring/summer of 2015. I have a short story in Dark Horse’s Creepy #20 that will be out in April 2015. I’m pitching a lot of really interesting comics work right now, both corporate and creator owned, but there’s nothing I can announce just yet. I do have a graphic novel with artist Meredith McClaren forthcoming from Dark Horse in probably the fall of 2015, but we don’t have a firm release date yet.

Thank you for the interview and I can’t wait for the relase of the Jem comics!

Remember to follow Kelly @79SemiFinalist and Ross @rosscampbell on Twitter for all the latest news on the Jem comics and their upcoming work.

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How Hyper Japan stole Christmas…and made it kawaii!

IMG_4424psForget Santa, the nativity and everything you thought you knew about Christmas! Hyper Japan Christmas Market 14-16 November 2014 has stolen it and make it super kawaii!

IMG_5040psTraditionally at Christmas the nativity story from the bible is told, however the only bible that can be found at Hyper Japan is of the Gothic Lolita variety – with sewing patterns included!

The only comparison, that I make very light heartedly, to a Christ figure is the general public’s love for Hatsune Miku, with an array of merchandise being sold and Vocaloid cosplayers walking around the convention halls. Hyper Japan even played host to an exclusive London concert, screening hourly with each session full. All of this shows just how much people ‘workship’ and adore the turquoise headed hologram. Hey, a vast majority of people even walked out when Ren came on to the screen during the concert I attended!

IMG_4787ps Music is a big part of Christmas, whether you like traditional Christmas carols or pop. Hyper Japan featured it’s own version, with a vast number of j-pop inspired acts many incorporating a Christmas twist including Kelsey Ellison (Kimono Time), Yano Anna, Koike Miyu and many more!

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Hyper Japan added a twist to the traditional evergreen Christmas tree by creating an ema where attendees could write sentiments and wishes on wooden blocks before hanging from the tree in the hopes that good fortune would be bestowed upon them.

IMG_5175psExhibitor stalls were also selling some added anime style tree decorations which you could get for your own Christmas trees at home…

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Another big part of Christmas is food; swapping candy canes for pocky sticks and mince pies for matcha cupcakes and animal faced macarons baked from a variety of exhibitors including ‘super cute macarons’ based in Knightsbridge. Yum!

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You could forget Christmas turkey, brussel sprouts or gravy. The only thing on the menu was tuna fish – with a large carving taking place on stage by Hideki Kimura.

IMG_4489psWashed down with some bubble tea, or something stronger…

IMG_4902psHyper Japan had lots of free samples of sake, Japanese whiskey and wine on offer to taste! As well as hosting a cocktail workshop showing you how to add a Japanese twist to Christmas tipples.

Who needs a fat, old bearded man to deliver your presents when you can have these awesome Naruto Christmas cosplayers!

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Santa may have had reindeer to pull his sleigh, but here at Hyper Japan its all about the alpacas; you could grab yours in any colour or theme at the LoveJoJo stand, the North Pole for alpacas everywhere.

IMG_4734psEveryone loves presents at Christmas, Hyper Japan obliged our desires by hosting a free  lucky dip throughout the day, numerous give-aways on stage and all the free samples on offer! Including a specific cranberry tea which lets just say had an acquired taste.

IMG_5266psChristmas wouldn’t be complete without the office party, where employees try to upstage each other in party outfits and often drink too much. At Hyper Japan there was no tux or little black dresses in sight just lots and lots of frills,lace and bright colours as fashionistas battled it out for the best co-ord judged by j-pop idol and model sensation Yano Anna.

IMG_5156psAs Mariah Carey would say, All I want for Christmas is you…but i’ll settle for some of this Sailor Moon official merchandise stocked by Dreamy Bows!

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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.

wcs frazzy 1

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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