Archive for the Tokyo Journal Category


Tokyo Journal, Part 4 – Tokyo Rainbow Pride Day

May 8th, 2016

trpOur final event of this eventful trip was to the Tokyo Rainbow Pride Festa at Yoyogi Park. Yoyogi Park is the Park closest to Harajuku and the Meiji Shrine, so the crowds there are always delightfully immense and full of girls with cute, fashionable clothes.  Today it also included cute little gay kids and families spending an absolutely gorgeous day in the park for the final Saturday of Golden Week. It could not have been more perfect a day.

I love festivals, and Rainbow Pride was one of three at the park that day.  Sharing the space was a Cambodian Festival and a Latin festival. The food smells were making us so hungry!

Like most festivals, the booths were a mix of corporations, services and stuff for sale. I bought an official t-shirt, of course.^_^ I’m always throwing money at these things.

We had a fucking yummy hamburger for lunch. It was so nice to see something written in New Jersey.

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And instead of flame-broiled, it was flame throwered.

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I think this would play very well at the Jersey Shore.

We met a friend from the Tuesday night event and caught up with scholar Matt Thorn and his friends and saw Remi-san and Yuki-san once more to say good bye and thanks.

It was such a beautiful night, we walked around some more, ate at a local cheap tsukemen place (noodles to dip into soup) and walked around the discount stores on the street until we crashed.

That’s it for events in Tokyo. When I get home I’ll show you everything we picked up!

 

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Tokyo Journal 2016, Part 1 – Sailor Moon in Roppongi, Rose of Versailles in Tokyo Station

May 4th, 2016

It’s been a whirlwind trip here in Tokyo. As I type a whirlwind blows a storm across Kantou, so it seemed like a good day to catch up. ^_^

The very first thing we did was hit the Sailor Moon exhibition in Roppongi. Rather than post our few pictures, I recommend you take a look at this extensive set of photos, by Sailormoonworld.it. They covered it all in way more detail than we did.

The line for the café was about 90 minutes long when we got there and they had run out of the locket burgers, but we managed to get the Outers curry and the Tuxedo Kamen spaghetti. (Thinking about it, they should have made it ramen and called it Tuxedo Ramen, but no one asks me. ^_^)

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The curry was better than expected, honestly.

Drinks were Inners themed, and they contained BB Chocora energy drink, which was a main sponsor.  All of them were pretty good, but I had the Mars drink and thought it the best.

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The only downside of lunch was, that without the burger and with the sugary drinks, it was a carbfest. By the time we got to dessert, I was already pretty sugared up. Then I got the Sailor Moon parfait – which was excellent, but by god was it sweet. Like a gumball parfait, with a white (yellow) chocolate moon.

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Then we came back and checked out what we had gotten at the shop. Some of what we wanted was sold out, no surprise. There were a *lot* of people buying stuff. So many, that there was a sign that you could *only* buy 20 of any item. Reselling is big business here.

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Some of these items are destined for future lucky boxes, because I love you folks and want you to be happy. ^_^

We’ve also visited a shrine and climbed the most treacherous path I can remember having ever been on. This bit actually had a handrail. One part was a rope and other bits were unaided.

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We ran into a Rose of Versailles pop-up shop that sold the most amazing boxes of tissues I have ever seen.

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Had to show you this large so you can see everyone crying. ^_^

We saw a Chihayafuru popup, as well, as the live action movie is coming soon.

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We’ve hit up a few other places, but it’s time to get dressed and get breakfast, so I’ll tell you all about the lecture next time. What a day it was!

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Maria-sama ga Miteru Anniversary Exhibit Report by Bruce P.

January 11th, 2015

mgsmeventIt is my very great pleasure to welcome back Guest Reviewer, all-around amazing Okazu and Yuricon supporter and great friend Bruce P! This time he has made it to Asagaya Anime Street for the Maria-sama ga Miteru Anniversary Event and were are delighted to have him tell us all about it. Thank you Bruce, the floor is yours…

I was pleased that a trip to Japan I had planned for Christmas this year coincided with a Maria-sama ga Miteru special event in Tokyo, in Asagaya Anime Street, appropriately located close to the heart of Marimite country. The event was in conjunction with the 10th anniversary of the anime, and was coupled with the release of the Blu-Ray edition of the complete series. I just had to see what it was all about.

Asagaya was a happy, bustling place when I arrived late afternoon on Christmas day. Shoppers were everywhere, as can be seen in this covered mall, which managed to contrive a Magritte Empire of Light kind of lighting effect. No doubt to make the experience more fun. And possibly to disorient you into more readily opening your wallet.

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However, for reasons probably related to storefront rental costs, Asagaya Anime Street is not located in this heavy cash flow area. It’s hidden away in a slightly sad and depressing site under the Chuo railway line elevated tracks. Definitely not prime real estate. To find it I had to work my way along and under the tracks, through tiny streets and alleys and girders, like Gene Hackman in The French Connection chasing the el train. Though he got to wreck a Pontiac. I had to walk.

But the walk was a great opportunity to take in the local sights, like this display of grimy, broken eggshells in front of a rice shop. Apparently all the surrealists were in town. An eye-catch for a rubbish disposal center.

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Finally, in the gloom under the tracks, there it was.

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Asagaya Anime Street consists of about 15 small shops selling anime related items of one sort or another. It actually seemed to be a worthwhile attempt to transform a deserted waste area under the tracks into a retail space, though the crowds were somewhat lacking. It took some effort to find, but of course that’s just what anime fans are willing to do.

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The Marimite event was in the GoFaLABO (Gallery of Fantastic Art Laboratory) Café and Gallery Space. Yes the place was small, and located in a relatively deserted spot under the tracks. And it rattled with every passing train. And the retail item shelves were mostly empty. But the thing is this – the event itself was downright fabulous. GoFaLABO consists of a small retail space with café counter, plus an event area containing five café tables. The event area was hung with about 60 beautiful framed copies of all the Marimite hanken illustrations used for the series. In addition, episodes of the series were being shown at one end of the space, which you could watch as you lingered over Marimite-themed tea and pastries, surrounded by all that gorgeous art. There were four people doing this when I entered, two guys at one table, and a guy and an exquisitely Lolita-outfitted girl at another. As I lingered myself, another guy dropped in and settled himself at a fourth table. Photography was not permitted inside the café, which was unfortunate, but not unexpected.

What surprised me most about the experience was that, when concentrated in one place and viewed as a whole, the official Marimite images demonstrated a striking, powerful, almost single-minded obsession with Yuri (Yuri in implication, Yuri in fact, and (mostly) Yuri in fan enticement) that was really not fully representative of the multi-faceted story itself. But I’m not complaining. The images were beautiful, they were Yuri, and there were 60 of them. More tea, please.

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Eventually I had to leave to head back to Ikebukuro. There were two extremely lovely Christmas/winter themed prints of Yumi and Sachiko for sale that I would have liked very much (one at least was new to this event), but they were only available for pre-order. I did purchase all the goods that were currently available, except for the Blu-Ray series: two lidded drinking cups, a coffee mug, and a calendar.

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I’m so glad I had the opportunity to experience the GoFaLABO Marimite event. It was superb, an emerald under the tracks. And with all those cups and mugs my dehydration worries are a thing of the past. If you have the opportunity to visit GoFaLABO in Asagaya Anime Street while the Marimite event is still taking place (through January 25th), please do so. If you’ve made it this far in this report, you’ll just love it.

Well, except maybe for Ana, you freakin’ tough Marine. Ganbatte, CO!

Erica here: Ganbatte seconded. And of course I’m insanely jealous.  I thank you again for the lovely calendar! 

Thank you once more for your time and effort on our behalf! I’m glad you enjoyed the show. 

In case any of you want a glimpse of the kinds of sweets they were selling, I’ve stolen borrowed two pictures from YNN Correspondent and friend Jackie S. to give you an idea. ^_^

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This event will have had  a number of Okazu readers visit. We should do a travel special. ^_^

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Yuri Manga: Mamiya-san to Issho (間宮さんといっしょ)

November 13th, 2014

The subject of today’s review is not the manga itself so much, as how and why I bought it. ^_^

Those of you following me on Twitter and Facebook, saw a series of pictures I stealth shot while in the Toranoana and Comic Zin stores in Akihabara. They had something I had never ever seen before in Japan and I wanted to share it with you all.

For the first time ever, Toranoana in Akihabara had a real, multi-publisher “Yuri” section! Here are my crappy cell phone shots of this phenomenon.

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I’m not sure if you can really see what’s going on in these shots unless you are familiar with Japanese bookstores and the way they shelve books. Books are basically split by whether they are targeted to men or women, then by publisher and imprint. So if I’m looking for a Kodansha book, I look at the spine to see if it’s KDX, KC, or another imprint. You have to look at for the Rakuen Le Paradis comics in one place, the MangaTime KR comics in another, Comic Yuri Hime in a third, etc. Sometimes those aren’t even shelved in the same section of the store. Comic Yuri Hime might be in the women’s comics, they might be in the men’s. You don’t really know for sure until you look. I’ve seen them in both.

What you are seeing here is practically a miracle…books from different publishers, different imprints nestled side by side in a kind of “Yuri’ section I’d only ever dreamed of.  Dengeki side by side with Comic Yuri, next to Hakusensha’s Rakuen comics.  I was so busy trying to snap a few shots, I barely even looked at the shelves. ^_^

Later, we walked over to the Comic Zin store back up the street, and found that they also had a smaller, but also multi-publisher Yuri section, and a number of Yuri doujinshi. (I knew about the doujinshi, that was why I wanted to go to the store, but the books were a surprise.)

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The thing I thought, and shared on Twitter, was this – it was really nice to see them all together in one place. In Toranoana, it took up two or three shelf-widths, and the counter in front of them, so it felt substantial. In Zin it was one shelf width, but hey, it was there!

So, the point here is, because the Yuri books were shelved together, I was able to find a few things I’d never even heard of, from imprints I was unfamiliar with, or hadn’t seen any Yuri from before – which is the whole point of having Genre sections in a book store in the first place! ^_^

mamiyatoissho1I picked up the subject of today’s review because I’d never heard of the series or seen that imprint in the Yuri section before. Mamiya-san to Issho (間宮さんといっしょ) begins with a girl, Sasara, being asked out by a boy in her school. She says, sure, she’d go out with him, if he died for her. Not surprisingly, he bails instantly.

Her friends are jealous, because she receives so much attention, but Sasara is unimpressed.  Until she is asked up to the roof by the mysterious Mamiya Ryou, a beautiful female upperclassman. When Sasara states her requirements for love, Ryou agrees and leaves.

Sasara asks her classmates about this Mamiya Ryou, and is told that Mamiya Ryou is whereabouts unknown and presumed dead. Ryou confirms that dead it is, and asks Sasara if she’ll go out with her now? Sasara agrees.

The book immediately falls into a kind of talky chaos, that indicates to this reader that nothing had been sketched out beyond the premise. A classmate of Ryou’s who has some impulse-control issues first attacks Sasara for having the nerve to even ask about Ryou, but then becomes convinced that Sasara knows where Ryou is. She brings in her younger sister, who can see ghosts, to meet Sasara (and Ryou,) but Ryou convinces her not to say anything. And then the book, um, ends.

The relationship pretty much goes nowhere, because Ryou is dead and so is the plot. ^_^;

Ratings:

Art – 6 Trying to be better than it was, but not bad
Story – 4
Characters – 5
Yuri – 4
Service – 2

Overall – 6

SO, while it was really super cool to get a Yuri manga from Shounen Sunday, it wasn’t a terribly compelling one, beyond the plot idea. ^_^

But yay for Yuri sections!

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‘My Margaret’ 50th Anniversary Manga Exhibition

October 26th, 2014

mm50Girl’s manga magazines Margaret and Bessatsu Margaret (Bestuma) magazines celebrated their 50th anniversary this year with the Watashi no Margaret: (My Margaret) exhibition at the Mori Tower in Roppongi Hills. Our intrepid team of Okazu reporters took in the exhibit on a fine Thursday afternoon in October.

Margaret has some strong ties to our community. It was – and is again – the home of Riyoko Ikeda’s works, including Oniisama E/Dear Brother and Berusaiyu no Bara/Rose of Versailles manga series. (It also was the home for the Maria-sama ga Miteru manga and early Yuri classic, Futtemo Harettemo.) In addition, fans of sports manga will remember that the first girl’s sport manga, Attack No. 1 and the popular tennis manga, Ace o Nerae!/Aim for the Ace! also ran in Margaret.

Ticket holders were herded into a waiting area, where we were able to get tantalizing glimpses of reproduction color art from the magazine. No photos were allowed, so of course, I snapped this quick picture while waiting.

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Before we were let free to wander the exhibit, there was a 4 minute video that was absolutely fantastic. Individual panels of various popular works from 50 years of the magazine, accompanied by dramatic music and fade-ins and outs of recognizable dialogue, was surprisingly moving. The finale was a collage of kiss scenes from dozens of the series and both my wife and I sniffled a bit. It was hard to not be overwhelmed by the shoujo-ness of it all. ^_^

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(These are the scenes from the video on the front and back cover of the exhibition catalog, which was lovely, but large. I did not get it, despite thinking about it very hard.)

The exhibit itself  was broken into not quite a dozen rooms, the first several focusing on a period of the magazines’ evolution from general “girl’s” magazine to manga magazines.

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These were followed by manga categories, like “Gag and Comedy”, “Horror” and “Sports” with original art from popular series of that kind. The “Sports” room had me riveted, with actual original pages from Attack. No. 1 and Ace o Nerae!, Swan and other famous series.

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Comedy and Gag manga were presented in a cheerily painted area with sound and vocal effects in large word balloons on the wall. Horror was, of course, black walls, splashes of blood-red  and scream effects. ^_^

The “Romance” room, was set up to look much like a reception area of a wedding hall, with banners of cloth hung in a canopy from the ceiling.

There was a focus spot on a series I was not at all familiar with – Hot Road – and we were allowed to take pictures of the motorcycles used in the live action movie of the series. Here is one of the watercolors. It’s an odd choice, since most of the art for this series is full of movement and large vistas, motorcycle noises and cityscapes. This was a cover of one of the manga volumes that manages to be none of that at all.

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This lead into a full room of original art from this series..and wow do I have a new appreciation for manga artists after this. Much of this, and the next rooms, which had original water colors for color pages were…amazing. You could just about point out the moment that screentones were introduced into manga art, and marvel at the early effects created by ink, cutting, splattering and the liberal use of whiteout. The water colors of the 70s and 80s were absolutely breathtaking in some cases. The painting and drafting skills of the artists were evident in these full-size original pages.

Towards the end, there are a few rooms focusing on other popular series, such as Hana Yori Dango and current favorite Ao Haru Ride/ Blue Spring Ride, which is getting a live action movie in the upcoming months.

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The end of the exhibit was focused on Riyoko Ikeda’s work. In a room patterned after, one supposes, wallpaper in Versailles, we are in suddenly in the presence of the original art from Berusaiyu no Bara/Rose of Versailles, the timeless tale of the female soldier and leader of soldiers during the French Revolution, Oscar Francois de Jarjeyes.

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It was wonderful. ^_^

You remember the painting of Oscar as a classical hero on a horse? That’s a real thing. In full color, beat to shit on paper that has been folded and mishandled for decades…there it was.  Along with (of course,) Takarazuka costumes from one of the first performances of the musical.

This lead into a wall of Ikeda’s art from Orpheus no Mado and a few original pieces of Oniisama E/Dear Brother. (Kaoru no Kimi with a guitar. Squee.)

Then we come around the corner for the ultimate photo op.

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This life-size sculpture comes with a wall of photos from every angle, and a couple of French flags you can hold and take a picture of yourselves in the same position. I declined to pose, but got a cute picture of a couple of girls doing so. ^_^

From there, you are herded into the gift shop, where naturally, you buy way too many things you neither need nor want, because they look so cool!

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(That is a Wada Shinji series on the bottom. It’s from Gin-iro no Kami no Arisa, which ran in Betsuma.)

When we had consumed goods to our satisfaction, we went up on the Sky Deck to check out Tokyo. Considering I took this on a cellphone, with the sun glare making it impossible to see the screen, this picture of the Skytree and Tokyo Tower came out damn good.

 

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I’m really very glad we managed to get to this exhibit. It was exceptional in every way.

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