Monday, March 30, 2009

What I Remember From The AniMaid Cafe Event...

So Saturday, a female friend and I went to a mobile home park clubhouse in Santa Ana, Orange County, CA to attend the first AniMaid Cafe event hosted by Funky Fresh Cosplay. Except for a little delay in setup, we were in the first group to enter.

Unfortunately, it was only one server per table so we could only get either a maid or a host. Since I've already been to a real maid cafe in Akihabara, Tokyo, I let my friend pick our host, Kaname. While we were waiting for our lunch (mine was clam chowder followed with fried rice and spam and topped off with a root beer float for dessert while my friend had miso followed with okonomiyaki with a trio of bite sized cakes for dessert), we played games with Kaname as our advanced order tickets also included two games with the host in hopes of winning tickets that could be redeemed for taking a picture with them. Two games had to be won in order to get a pic...after Mario Party DS, Mario Kart DS, Connect Four, and two rounds of Jenga (my friend paid for the fifth game), we only won two tickets, which I let my friend have since I wouldn't want a pic with a host.

In another room, video game tournaments were held, though most players kept forgetting about it they wandered from the game room to the main hall with the diners, manga, videos, and maid performances that included dances, anime theme songs, and a game of rock, paper, scissors between the maids and some people in the audience.

Most of our time was spent in conversation with Kaname about Anime Expo, college life (my friend and I are both college grads while he was still a student), anime, manga, reasons for a maid cafe, etc...

Lunch did take long as we were in the first wave of guests, so the staff was still getting ready to cook. I wasn't expecting much, but I was hungry when the food came. My meal definitely had a home-cooked feel to it, and I guess I was lucky I ordered the fried rice as I heard rumblings that the beef curry wasn't all that great. I guess they weren't using the boil-in-a-bag stuff that I use for curry. The service had some lapses (a sign that the cosplayers who hosted the event were more anime fan than foodservice employee...) such as some delays in getting water and napkins, but I viewed this event more as an anime/manga themed party than an actual food event, so I'm not angry.

Overall, for a first attempt, I applaud their efforts, and I hope they can work with a local Japanese grill so they can focus more on entertaining than food. I wasn't sure about the demographic who would show up, but definitely the majority were in the college age/recent college grad/"hipster" crowd with some high schoolers mixed in.

There weren't many cosplayers, but the most notable was a trio of female students for Ouran High School. I didn't have much of an opportunity to take a pic of them because we were being entertained by Kaname, and when we were done, the girls were being seated at their table. I did take pics of the maids, though.

For another review of the event, check out How A Girl Figures (thanks Jyuichi for the link)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

AniMaid Cafe Premiere Report Coming Soon...

Well I'm tired from spending the day at the first AniMaid Cafe event in Orange County, CA. I was hoping for some unique cosplayers I could take pics of, but I was busy playing games with the host my female friend selected as there could only be one host/maid per table. Anyway, just giving a heads up that I'll have a full report soon. But here's a pic of my lunch from the event....spam and fried rice.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cosplay Scavenger Hunt Part 5?: Guitar Heroes?

I've been playing Guitar Hero World Tour the past few nights, and I've been thinking that the next big anime could be K-On! when it premieres next month (though I always have a special place in my heart for female band geeks in prep school uniforms). I know nothing about the manga (especially since I can't read Japanese), but it just seems like the guitar will be the next common cosplay prop after swords and other weapons. With that in mind, I guess I should come up with a list of guitar playing anime characters.

Edit 4/1/09-It only counts if the character actually has a guitar/bass in hand.

Yui Hirasawa (K-On!)*
Mio Akiyama (K-On!)*
Haruhi Suzumiya (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya)*
Yuki Nagato (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya)*
Yukio Tanaka (BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad)
Ryusuke Minami (BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad)
Ken'ichi Saito (BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad)
Yoshiyuki Taira (BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad)
Hiroshi Nagano (Gravitation)

I haven't watched many series where there was significant guitar playing, but ideas are always welcome. Maybe a singing idols cosplay list would be easier as Skip Beat would easily be on the list.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

I Love Nagato....Fun in Little Tokyo on a Saturday Night

I have been to Little Tokyo before when I was a student in L.A, but last night's visit was a little different as I discovered some places I haven't been before. After watching some DVDs with my cousin to show here some design elements of a cosplay I wanna do, I felt like that I could find one of the elements at Anime Jungle in Little Tokyo. After seeing them represented at a few of the previous cons I've attended, I've been always wondering where Anime Jungle keeps the gothic lolita, visual kei, J-pop stuff. I always went to the store in the Little Tokyo Mall where the figures are, but I never knew where their other shop was until my cousin asked an employee about it. So after going through an alley, we did find the other store. I'm so happy that it's still around (but I guess if you have a cult following like Amoeba Music had, you'll always have a steady business).

Anyway, I didn't find the item I was looking for, but there was a bunch of stuff I wanna get the next time I visit. Before dinner, we visited a couple of shops around the area, where I found a store that sold all kinds of Japanese clothes such as yukata (apparently the presence of an obi is what separates a house yukata from a "street" yukata) haori jackets, and happi coats.

I don't think I've ever actually eaten in Little Tokyo, and I've eaten at another location of Daikokuya, which was very busy compared to Mr. Ramen two doors down. And I guess as a sign of the troubled economic times, I saw many empty lots in Little Tokyo and a restaurant with no customers (probably because the cooking and wait staff were eating dinner in plain view at 7 pm). I guess unlike Chinatown where there seems to be many events planned throughout the year, Little Tokyo doesn't have a similar neighborhood revitilization initiative where they hold many weekend events outside of Nisei Week.

Well back to dinner...we wanted to find a place that was busy but not a long wait, so we found Oomasa where we both had a sushi/pork cutlet dinner set that included miso soup, three kinds of sashimi, three kinds of sushi, macaroni salad, cucumber/crab in vinegar, and green tea ice cream for dessert. All for less than $20. The restaurant had a mix of older Japanese and younger non-Asian hipsters, so it was a little noisy.

So that was my little trip of discovery at Little Tokyo...I guess I could have been more descriptive by hearing the Lucky Star theme song blasting in the background at the first Anime Jungle location, and how there were clips from The Boredom of Haruhi Suzumiya playing at the other location as my non-anime watching cousin discovered body pillows with female anime characters silkscreened on them and a Super Mario Bros. invincibility star that makes noise when you press it. However, I feel since it was a somewhat random wandering, I wasn't really interested in telling a long story, but I did want to show off the latest Newtype that I bought at Kinokuniya just because of the cover (and more related Kyoto Animation pics inside, if I only knew Japanese) and I didn't feel right borrowing the restroom key without buying something.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Cosplay Scavenger Hunt Part 4: Studio Ghibli (Miyazaki Bias)

If it wasn't Cartoon Network or Saturday morning shows, you were probably first introduced to anime through a Studio Ghibli film that was distributed by Disney. So I might as well focus on a single studio for this part of the cosplay scavenger hunt list (I hope I get to see Princess Mononoke soon at an event I plan on attending...)

For now, I'll just focus on the films I've actually seen (so there is definitely a Hayao Miyazaki slant to this) and characters that would make for some interesting cosplay

Characters from Porco Rosso
Porco Rosso (Marco Pagott...I didn't know he had a real name)
Donald Curtis
Mama Aiuto Gang Boss

Characters from Laputa: Castle in the Sky
Colonel Muska
Uncle Pomme
General Muoro
Dola's Mechanic
Laputa Robot
Pazu's Father

Characters from Kiki's Delivery Service

Characters from Princess Mononoke
Lady Eboshi Gozen
Jiko Bou

Characters from Spirited Away
Chihiro Ogino
Yubaba/Zeniba (really can you tell them apart?)
Rin (Lin)
No-face (Kaonashi)

Characters from Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind
Lord Yupa

Characters from My Neighbor Totoro
Mei Kusakabe
Kanta's Grandmother
Cat bus (I'm sure it can be done)

I got the names from I want to rewatch these DVDs after finishing watching my new purchases.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Nothing Like Discounted Anime

Because the list originally posted on the Anime News Network article (see link in previous post) was preliminary, I trolled around some Best Buy stores near me to see where the clearance sale was. I went to two locations, one close to me where I normally shop, and the next nearest one about 10 minutes away. The 10 minute away location had the 50% off clearance sale on all anime titles, not just the low selling titles as reported in the article. Thanks to that, I was able to purchase Mahoromatic vol. I and vol. II and Coyote Ragtime Show for the same price as two of the titles...

Have fun shopping! I hope Clannad vol. I will also be on sale at the location having the clearance.

(I'm not mentioning the location I went to with the sale because I don't want to compete with others for some of the titles I've been looking for...sorry for being greedy.)