Here’s something a little different from my usual posts – I have an illustration in a doujinshi! I got involved in the project via one of the editors, who studied at my university on exchange last year. It’s called アニメルか (Animerca) and it’s a magazine with articles and essays (in Japanese) about anime, with some illustrations included, one of which is mine. The website for it can be found here, and contains a full list of the contents (in Japanese). Some of the articles have been submitted by foreign fans, including David Cabrera (whom followers of the American anime industry might recognise as the new Astro Toy columnist at Anime News Network) and a kouhai of mine from the UK.
I think it’s quite different from what most English-speaking anime fans think of when the word ‘doujinshi’ comes to mind, but I think it’s a great project and a good counterpart to most of the stuff sold at doujinshi events.
Animerca Volume 1 will be sold at Bungaku Freemarket in Tokyo this Sunday, and also at Comiket in the summer, so keep an eye out for it if you’re appropriately located for either of these events!
Here’s the basic info on it:
Published by Project Animerca (アニメルカ製作委員会)
Publishing Date: 23 May, 2010
Place: Bungaku Freemarket (文学フリマ）in Tokyo
Price: 800 yen
And the list of contributors in English:
Brett A Smithson
I’m glad I was able to draw for the magazine. The majority of my experience with comics has been as a webcomic artist, so it was great to get an opportunity to try something different. It was also an interesting challenge for me, as I don’t have my scanner with me in Japan. I could have borrowed one from a friend, but instead I’ve been practicing drawing digitally in full (instead of my usual hand-drawn lineart with everything else digitally) since coming to Japan, and I decided to try doing the whole illustration with my tablet and copy of Photoshop. I was pleased with how it turned out, and while I won’t be giving up drawing by hand any time soon (I can’t imagine reproducing the cityscape I’ve just finished digitally), I’m can be more flexible with drawing now.
Filed under anime, art, japan
I couldn’t miss the opportunity to go to a Volks Dolls Party event while I’m in Japan, and the Tokyo Dolpa 23 was held in Golden Week so I made sure to attend. I got my copy of the guide book (which serves as the entrance ticket) in advance rather than at the door, which allowed me early entry to the event. While most events go on during the day, two of the most important ones require you to turn up early: the Tenshi no Sumika shop and the limited edition lottery. The Sumika shop the Volks official store for the event, and sells various things like regular edition dolls, stands and also a whole range of new, limited-edition clothes and accessories. This is what attendees turn up early to the shop for. The Sumika event outfits are only sold at the Dolpa event, and then at the after-events online and in their stores, always in limited numbers so you have to be fast to get what you want. The limited edition lottery is for attendees who want to get hold of one of the limited dolls Volks is releasing for an event. This time there were two YoSDs, an SD girl, an MSD boy and three DD girls. Attendees had to line up to get a ticket with a number on, and the lower the number the earlier they could go and try to buy a doll so the better chances they had of getting what they wanted.
Note: this post is very image-heavy. As usual, click on any image for an enlarged version.
It’s Spring Break here in Japan at the moment, and the end of the academic year. I got most of March off, so I went traveling for a week with a few friends, and we visited some cities in Japan that are too far away to travel to normally. I spent two nights in Nagoya, and then four nights in Kyoto, and from each place visited various places in the surrounding area.
I got to play with my brand new camera, which was good since it’s far superior to the old Nikon Coolpix L2 that I share with my sister normally but brought to Japan with me. My new camera is a Panasonic FZ38 (FZ35 for American readers). It’s not a DSLR, as I didn’t feel like making the jump from a four-year-old simple compact to something quite that advanced, but it has a lot more features than my old camera and the picture quality is really nice.
We went by highway bus, which was a new experience for me. The journey to Nagoya was about seven hours from Shinjuku in Tokyo to Nagoya Station, and we traveled overnight. We caught a bus at 11.30pm, and reached Nagoya a little after 6am. We paid for the tickets separately online, so they put us on different buses, although I was with one of my friends on the bus I rode. It was not a particularly pleasant experience, but it was far cheaper than taking the Shinkansen. The lights on the bus were switched off shortly after leaving, and we were supposed to sleep but it wasn’t really possible because the seats weren’t designed for comfortable sleeping and we stopped a couple of times at service stations to use the bathrooms and buy more snacks and drinks.
Filed under japan, personal
Ball-jointed dolls are a dangerous hobby to get into. Why? Well that’s because once you’ve bought one, you start wanting more. Unlike heavily anime-influenced vinyl dolls like the Dollfie Dream girls, resin dolls like mine are from a somewhat more established hobby with a larger fan base. As a result there are dozens of different companies, most with their own style and a wide range of different dolls of different sizes and themes. So it’s very easy to find a large number of beautiful dolls that you’d rather like to own, and you almost inevitably end up buying more. Which is what I’ve just done.
My next doll isn’t nearly as expensive as my Volks boy, although he’s not from one of the cheaper companies either. He’s from a Korean company, and is around the same height (a few centimetres taller) as my other doll Maya. Another boy, since of the three remaining characters of this particular universe that I want to turn into dolls, he’s the simplest as the other two (a boy and a girl) require much darker skin tones. ‘Tan’ dolls as they tend to be called, are more unusual compared to paler yellow or pink tones (usually called ‘normal’ by doll companies) and ‘white’ skin which ranges from paper-white to a very pale cream or otherwise tinted colour. Resin-making is a apparently a difficult process and requires an appropriate climate amongst other things, and making darker-skinned dolls without too much unevenness in the colour is tricky, and with the wrong weather many companies just give up until the season changes. So the two other characters will be harder and more expensive to obtain (Soom’s Chalco in tan would have been perfect for one of them and not too tall, but he was far too expensive and the wait times tend to be long on their special monthly limited dolls so I had to give up on him – I might wait until Crobidoll do another limited tan run on one of their sculpts and see if that works for the character instead).
The company I went with this time is called Dream of Doll. They’re very well-known among BJD fans, and have been producing dolls for quite a number of years now. They’re actually one of the first companies I ever encountered and the first doll I ever wanted was from them, so I feel it’s rather fitting to finally be ordering a doll from them, although it’s quite different to the dolls of theirs I was originally drawn to.
The doll I decided to get is this one – Code no.02, DoD’s newest standard release doll. I’m taking a bit of a risk with him as there are no owner photographs to go on, only the promo shots on the company’s website, but having seen plenty of owner photos of their other dolls I’m pretty confident that I won’t be disappointed by him. With standard release dolls, it’s not the same as with the Dollfie Dream licensed character girls where there’s only a set period within which you can order, the company carries on making them until they may decide to discontinue the doll in the future (and DoD don’t appear to discontinue dolls often if at all) but being in Japan gives me the rare opportunity to import something expensive without the horrors of the UK customs process. I’m not sure whether in Japan they can charge customs duties on expensive items, but I’ve imported things valued over $50 with no problems, and the consumption tax here is a mere 5% compared to the 17.5% VAT in the UK.
I’ve taken a couple of promo pictures of him from the company website and posted them here. There are more images of him to be seen on the previous link.
Warning: this post is very image-heavy.
Long time no post! Real life got rather busy all of a sudden after New Year’s, and I rather lost the time and energy to be blogging, but now I’m back with a rather special post – photos from my trip to Wonfes!
As most figure collectors are probably aware, Wonfes is one of the largest and most important events for figure fans in Japan. It’s technically a garage kit event, but most of the major figure companies, plus many smaller figure shops have a strong presence there, and it’s common to announce lots of new figures. I have to say though, most of the manufacturers really outdid themselves this time! There’s usually a handful of interesting announcements made, but this time it was more like a cascade of new products! GSC/Max Factory in particular had some really interesting things to show off. I wonder if this is why there have been so many delays recently?
Click on the images to enlarge. Some of them are rather blurry, for which I apologise – it’s hard taking photos of figures in glass cases when being pushed and shoved by otaku from all sides, and I’m far from a good photographer!
Filed under figures, japan
Since there was no way I could afford to fly home to the UK this Christmas, I had to settle with making the best of things here in Japan. Although Christmas is pretty much like any other day here, I didn’t want to just stay in my room all day so I met with some friends in Tokyo in the afternoon and had the strangest Christmas I have ever had.
First up I went to Akihabara on my own. The train service from Tsukuba goes directly to Akihabara, so it’s really tempting to pay a visit to some of the shops there if I have the time on one of my trips into Tokyo. I picked up a couple of Christmas presents for myself and my new doll. First was Figma Saber Lily! I had been eyeing her in my favourite figure store on my previous visit but restrained myself, but this time I saw she was still there and couldn’t resist. She’s second hand and came as just the figure with no game, but I only wanted the Figma anyway so I’m quite satisfied. Oddly the previous owner threw in a little extra – this pair of metal replicas of Fate Testarossa’s blades. They have been modified so that the ends of the hilts don’t have a loop any more, and neither the chain nor the little magic circle were included, but I’m not complaining because they make interesting Figma-sized weapons.
Then I bought a second pair of hands for Maya, my Dollfie. I bought him with a pair of FCS exclusive hands because it was my only opportunity to get them, but I also wanted some more practical ones as well. I was tempted to get another outfit or the other set of feet, but it would have cost too much money.
After that I went to Ikebukuro to meet up with my friends who had already been in Tokyo since the previous day, and our first stop was a rather odd place: a cat café. Essentially it’s a café where you go and play with cats. You pay based on the time you spend there and there was a free vending machine you could get drinks from, but the real attraction of course was the cats. These types of cafés are reasonably common in Japan, but it was my first time visiting one.
If you’re in Japan, like cats and have the time then I’d recommend visiting one just for the experience!
I had a surprise arrival yesterday evening in the form of three parcels all in one go! One I was expecting that day, the other I had been expecting within the next few days and the other was quite a bit earlier than I expected.
Yesterday’s arrivals: Figma Canaan, some bits and pieces from Volks, and… my brand new Super Dollfie!
Note: this post is very image-heavy and contains censored doll nakedness.
Today I tried out something I’d been meaning to do for a while – baking with my rice cooker. One of the things I’ve missed greatly since coming to Japan is an oven. They’re not as common over here as in Western countries, and certainly you won’t find them in old student dormitories like mine! Rice cookers are surprisingly versatile though, and one of the things you can use them for is cake so I decided to give it a try.
In the UK we don’t tend to use cake mixes as much as other countries, instead making cakes from scratch, but alas, I couldn’t find any Western-style flour in the supermarket I usually go to, so I had to settle for a basic cake mix instead. It was plain, so I customised it by adding lemon juice. I used this recipe, but without the icing and filling.
This is the result. I think it went quite well for my first attempt, and it tastes pretty good although the texture needs a bit of work. Next time I’ll have to experiment with other flavours and different cooking options. Apparently some rice cookers have an actual cake setting, but mine just has several different types of rice, and one for okayu. I just used the basic rice setting a few times for this, but I might try the okayu setting next time since it’s the one non-rice option. I also might try icing next time, but I didn’t want to today because I managed to catch a cold so I haven’t been feeling too good (I made the cake wearing a mask, and washing my hands with soap regularly).
My copy of FFXIII shipped this morning. I’m not sure if I’ll get it tomorrow or Friday because I have classes almost all day tomorrow. I’ll check back during my lunch break to see if it turned up in the morning and if so I’ll be able to arrange for it to be redelivered in the evening, but otherwise I’ll have to wait until Friday morning because my classes don’t end until six, at which point it will be too late to arrange a redelivery. Either way, I’ll be trying it out before the end of the week!
Filed under japan, personal
I made my second trip to Akihabara today, as I’m fortunate enough to have no classes on a Friday, and it will be my last trip there for a while because I spent an awful lot of money today!
As a follow-up to my previous post about pottery in Kasama, I have another post, this time with pictures from Mito, Yuki and a different part of Kasama. It was the second and final trip I made as part of one of the modules I took at Tsukuba, which I picked on a whim but it turned out to be pretty interesting and a lot of fun.
First up was another museum, this time in Mito. Rather than art this time, the museum contained various old artifacts from different periods in Japanese history. This was rather more to my taste than the ceramics museum I visited in Kasama, as I’m rather fond of history, the older the better and some of the pieces in the museum were pretty old. No photographs allowed inside as with the previous museum, which is a shame because they had some interesting things there, including a replica of the Seven Branched Sword (七支刀, shichishitou), which fans of the Phoenix Wright games might well be familiar with as in made a cameo in the third game.
Next to the museum, and pictured above, was an old school building. According to my teacher it’s one of the oldest in the prefecture. I don’t think the original building is being used any more, but it was interesting to look at.
Filed under japan, personal