Convention Attention: Anime Midwest

Earlier this month, my husband and I attended Anime Midwest, in Chicago. As the name implies, the majority of guests, panels, and activities had a connection to Japanese anime shows and movies, Japanese culture, and Japanese fashion. Special guests included voice actors Caitlin Glass, Sonny Strait, Greg Ayres, Alexis Tipton, and Johnny Yong Bosch, the famous Japanese fashion brand Baby the Stars Shine Bright, and a number of independent fashion designers. There were also steampunk and comedy based musical guests, gaming experts on hand, webcomic artists and authors, and Japanese weaponry experts. If I listed all the panelists and other guests, you’d still be reading this column three hours from now
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Michaele Jordan is the author of the period occult thriller Mirror Maze and her stories have appeared in Redstone Science Fiction, Buzzy Mag, The Crimson Pact, Volumes 4 and 5 and Fantasy and Science Fiction. You can visit her website at MichaeleJordan.com while waiting for the upcoming steampunk adventure Jocasta and the Indians.

A La Anime

by Michaele Jordan

I first started watching animé in July of 2009, having been invited to sit on an animé panel at the Montreal WorldCon. Naturally, I wanted to sound like I knew what I was talking about, so I did a lot of homework into the Japanese canon, and was immediately hooked..

It was years before I came up for air. But eventually I did begin to sense a sameness. Certain tropes became excessively familiar. I still loved animé, but I grew jaded, and even sought out stories that did not feature adorable high school students fighting demons. Can you guess what I found? French animé!
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Gavin Rotheryreleased posted Chris Kessler’s final cut of his awesome-looking Blade Runner: Anime trailer. Dare I say it looks better than the film…? ;)

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Lost in Animeland: Kino’s Journey

For me personally, the term “episodic” is usually not a compliment when it comes to anime. It depends on the genre, of course: comedies work better in an episode-by-episode format than dramas do, because there’s only so much of a dramatic arc that can be squeezed into 22 minutes. At their worst, episodic shows devolve in a “monster/case/artifact of the week” and repetitive formulas — this was very common back when more shows were 26 episodes instead of 13 and need more filler.

The best filler ever?

The best filler ever? (Click for animated GIF.)

Making a dramatic, episodic show work is not impossible, but it takes superior writing — there’s no room for lost time when you’re trying to tell a fairly complex plot in a short span of time. I’ve already talked about one show that does it, Paranoia Agent. While it has a continuing story, each episode (until the very end) is a separately crafted piece. Cowboy Bebop, which follows the standard plot-filler-plot-filler-plot structure, has filler episodes that are individually so good you’d never notice. Today I’d like to talk about another show that does this style very well!

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Lost in Animeland: Spring 2014, Part 2

More shows from Spring 2014! Lots of SFF this season.
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Lost in Animeland: Spring 2014

Apologies for the break! I’ve been a bit busy launching my new middle-grade fantasy, which means I haven’t had as much time to watch anime, let alone write about it. But now I’m catching up, which means it’s time to look at what we have on the slate for Spring 2014!

As usual, I’m not going to bother with shows I hated, sequels to things I haven’t written about, or shows with no SFF element. (Though one of my early favorites, Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka, is in the latter category as another “cute girls doing nothing” show.) Also as usual, I’m only one or two eps in to these, so these are only initial impressions!
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[GUEST POST] Top 5 Anime That SciFi Fans Will Love

Anime is becoming extremely popular between the western world, and with their unique style of artwork and storytelling, it seems the Japanese have been on to something for a while that we westerners are only just catching hold of. Anime has a way of making the viewer identify with characters on a personal level, making it quite addictive to watch and somewhat heartbreaking when certain series come to an end.

Often based around tales of fantasy and alternate universes, Anime has many a treat in store for sci-fi fans, so today, Ash from AnimeSquad.net delivers a list of 5 anime series that Sci-Fi fans will enjoy!

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Lost in Animeland: Lyrical Nanoha and Gunslinger Girl

In the name of the Moon, I will punish you!

In the name of the Moon, I will punish you!

The tradition of schoolgirls fighting things — monsters, criminals, each other — is an old one in anime, going back through Sailor Moon and Card Captor Sakura. It’s such a common trope (especially since high school is the default setting for most shows) that it has spawned a whole set of adaptations, genre-twisters, parodies, and so on.

Someday I will get around to talking about Madoka Magika, a show that is in this genre and is probably at the top of my “favorite anime of all time” list. (It’s very difficult to write about because so much of its awesomeness is embodied in a few plot twists that are hard not to spoil. Short version, just go watch.) Today, though, I want to talk about a couple of other shows that have interesting takes on the basic concept.

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Star Wars: The Lost 1980′s Anime

Finally an answer to question: What if Star Wars was a 1980′s anime?

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Michaele Jordan is the author of the period occult thriller Mirror Maze and her stories have appeared in Redstone Science Fiction, Buzzy Mag, The Crimson Pact, Volumes 4 and 5 and Fantasy and Science Fiction. You can visit her website at MichaeleJordan.com while waiting for the upcoming steampunk adventure Jocasta and the Indians.

You probably have not heard of this 2007 Korean film directed by Lee Sung-gang. Even most anime fans may miss it, since it is not a Japanese TV series about big-eyed school children slaying demons and manning giant robots. I don’t see any indication it was ever distributed in the USA, although it did appear in a few film festivals in 2008. And that really is a shame.

Mind you, this delightful film (with Ye-jin Son as Yobi and Deok-Hwan Ryu as Geum-ee) makes very little sense. Just for starters, let’s consider the prologue. We are told the history of a species of magical shape shifters known as nine-tailed foxes. There are several more references within the film to nine-tailed foxes. But there aren’t any nine-tailed foxes in it anywhere.
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Anime Doctor Who!

Everything you need to know is in the title of this post.
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Lost in Animeland! First Episodes, Fall 2013

Every quarter there’s a new anime season, with a whole new lineup of shows to take a look at! I watch through the first episodes of anything that might have some genre interest, and try to sort out what’s worth watching. Here’s the first part of the fall season, roughly from most to least interesting to me. (This isn’t all by any means — more to come!) I’ll try to say a bit about the show, and whether I plan to keep watching it.

My goal with this feature is to be comprehensible, even to the non-anime fan. To that end, there’s a Lost in Animeland FAQ and glossary which I’ll be updating as I go along. Feel free to leave questions in the comments here!
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Michaele Jordan is the author of the period occult thriller Mirror Maze and her stories have appeared in Redstone Science Fiction, Buzzy Mag, The Crimson Pact, Volumes 4 and 5 and Fantasy and Science Fiction. You can visit her website at MichaeleJordan.com while waiting for the upcoming steampunk adventure Jocasta and the Indians.

Anime Alert: The Eccentric Family

by Michaele Jordan

I have discovered what may be the best sit-com ever! Yes, it’s an anime series. That doesn’t mean it’s not a moving yet comic family drama. And yes, since it’s being reviewed in SF Signal and not The Saturday Evening Post, it’s a fantasy, one could even say an urban fantasy, set in modern day Kyoto. Nonetheless, it is not about magic but about personal relationships-not inter-species romances, but the bonds between brothers and cousins and fathers, and the mystery of making these absurd connections work.
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Michaele Jordan is the author of the period occult thriller Mirror Maze and her stories have appeared in Redstone Science Fiction, Buzzy Mag, Interstellar Fiction, The Crimson Pact, Volumes 4 and 5 and Fantasy and Science Fiction. You can visit her website at MichaeleJordan.com while waiting for the upcoming steampunk adventure Jocasta And The Indians.

Will We Ever Let Anime Grow Up?

by Michaele Jordan

I recently surfed past an article by Meredith Woerner touting the virtues of anime. Headlines like, “Animated movies that are better than most live-action blockbusters” tend to stop me in my tracks, and this one was no exception. I am always interested if seeing animation claim a larger, more respected share of the film market. But, alas, I was disappointed.
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FULL TRAILER: Space Pirate Captain Harlock

I have no idea what they are saying…but I love the look and the animation in this full trailer for Space Pirate Captain Harlock. The pop soundtrack near the end I could do without, though.

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Michaele Jordan is the author of the period occult thriller Mirror Maze and her stories have appeared in Redstone Science Fiction, Buzzy Mag, The Crimson Pact, Volume 4 and Fantasy and Science Fiction. You can visit her website at www.michaelejordan.com while waiting for the upcoming steampunk adventure Jocasta and the Indians.

IN PRAISE OF GENNDY, THE SAVIOR OF AMERICAN ANIME

For some time now, Japan has been getting all the credit for animation, so much so that the term anime has come to mean Japanese anime — even though in Japan the word simply means animated video — and you have to specify that it’s OE (original English) anime if it was made here. Despite the success of such gems as The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004) and WALL-E (Andrew Stanton, 2008), Disney/Pixar studios have always aimed their big guns aggressively at children. I say aggressively, since they have made only token gestures at rendering their offerings palatable to the long suffering parents, and have apparently never even considered attempting to expand the demographic sufficiently to lure teenagers into the theaters.

This left television to make animation for an older audience, a mantle it picked up only reluctantly. Granted that Batman: The Animated Series was significantly cool and wonderfully drawn, it was hardly typical. Apparently, if a superhero was considered interesting enough for video, it was interesting enough for a multi-million dollar live action film.
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I’m one of the sad few around here who has yet to see Ghost in the Shell. I have an excuse, though…I’ve been busy waiting to post about the prequel trailer…which is now available for all you true Ghost in the Shell fans out there.

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Here is the teaser trailer for Space Pirate Captain Harlock, a film version of a space opera manga that was briefly adapted into a television show in 1978. Captain Harlock is an outcast-turned-space-pirate who rebels against Earth’s Government and mankind’s general feeling of apathy.

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