Ireland Comic Con 2014

IMG_20140412_174850Ridley: The first ever MCM Ireland Comic Con came to the RDS in Dublin during the weekend and I decided to check it out! There were kids dressed up to the nines in fantastic costumes, award winning comic book artists, famous television personalities and numerous stalls selling fantastic bits and bobs, all of which were anime, comic, and game related. IMG_20140412_170236 IMG_20140412_165937Basically it was a massive amount of fun packed into one very large room. I went for the atmosphere, the excitement, to see the costumes and of course for all the fun, shiny things I could buy!

There were comics for sale, necklaces, keyrings, t-shirts, Asian food like Pocky and drinks like Pacari Sweat (great stuff if you’re ever dehydrated!!), posters, figurines and loads of plushies.IMG_20140412_174747IMG_20140412_175120

I bought a notebook.IMG_20140413_125129 I’m just a sucker for stationary.I had convinced myself I was going in to buy some original art to hang on my bedroom wall and I walked out with this instead. Not that I regret it!IMG_20140412_174649 IMG_20140412_174641

They also held a Yugi-Oh tournament, wrestling demonstrations and you got a chance to play old school Street Fighter with the joysticks. Famous people wandered in to say hello, like comic book artists Simon Bisley, Glenn Fabry. Dr Who’s Ian Mc Neice attended the event, along with Warwick Davis of Harry Potter, Star Wars and Idiot Abroad Season 3 fame (and numerous other things but I’m just going to list my favourites, of course! 😛 ) Colin Ferguson, the sheriff in the show Eureka was also at it, and the English language voice actors, Maile Flanagan who voices Naruto and Bryce Papenbrook who voices Eren Yeager in Attack on Titan were signing there as well. An impressive line up!IMG_20140412_174634

So all in all, I’m pretty certain anyone that attended will really really be hoping that MCM do another event soon! Though I will warn you for next time, make sure you show up early, the queues into the event were massive, that or make certain you bring lots of provisions like snacks, a drink and a fold up chair, then you’re sorted! Or do what I did and wait until the crowds have died down a tinsy bit to do your shopping, I’ve gotten too old for those young ‘uns and their hustle and bustling!! 😀

For more photos of costumes that were at the convention, go here!

Latimer watches… Shingeki no Kyojin

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Oh holy hell!

Latimer: I’m so behind the times! Like Ridley, I recently started watching Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan).Being a newbie to the show, I thought it’d be fun to document my initial thoughts as I watched the first 2 episodes!   

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Okay let’s go-go….!!

I just imagine the massive Titan looking over the wall and saying – “Hello dere!” All the Titans have faces that suggest they are about to say; “Hello dere!” instead of eating you. But in all seriousness, hell no would I still be alive in that world – as with zombie apocalypse I’m in the ‘first wave of non-survivors’!

HELLO DERE!
HELLO DERE!

I want one of the weapon rigs! Ah they’d be great – but I know I couldn’t use it properly!

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Well, I know it would all end badly for me!!

They have such a cool opening song!

This world looks very German, style-wise – I think it would be really cool to see this anime dubbed in German!

It really is suicide being a soldier in ‘Attack on Titan’!

Eren (the main character) said living behind the wall is like; “living like livestock for the Titans” – hmm, yup, that about sums it up all right!

Okay so there’s different soldier ‘corps’, with different crests – like Hogwarts houses… err… not really… well sort of; survey corps = Gryffindor (bravery); military police = Slytherin (smart, stay inside, let the Gryffindors do the hard graft :))… and garrison = Hufflepuff (who knows what you really do – who knows?!).

So the survey corps came back after their ‘trip’ (ha, their mini-break!) beyond the wall. There’s a guy with bandages around his mouth, ekk! Lots of soldiers were eaten; oh… one of the commanding officers is handing a bundle back to a crying mother…

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Jaysus… it’s…. an arm?! What…!

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God Eren, I’ve been here in your world 5 minutes and I don’t want to leave the walls (the outside world be damned I tell you, it’s not worth it! Sand and the sea, it’s not that impressive!). Why do you want to go outside Eren, you’re crazy!

Whooh, a big Titan just appeared (looking over the wall… ‘hello dere’)

Oh noo, he destroyed the wall, other Titans are coming in and eating people….. oh it’s on! IT’S ON!

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My immediate thought to describe Titans – “leering grins and naked arses!” I know all you people looked, they are giant naked people (where do your eyes go first?)!

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I love how in animes (this used to happen in Bleach too) there’s always cool-looking baddies (the big Colossal and Armoured Titans in this case; they are the important ones), and then there are the weirdest, oddest, bubble-headed, comical-looking strange ones, that you know the artist was like; “Bored now! Bring on the weird!”

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Hello dere!!
In all seriousness, you'd initially have to laugh if you saw this guy THEN scream and cry and run....
In all seriousness, you’d initially have to laugh if you saw this guy THEN scream and cry and run….

Ah, Eren’s house was crushed by stone from the wall – his mam is stuck under the house!

She told them to run away and save themselves (a Titan is coming!). I’d have asked them to kill me before they ran away – “I’m doing you guys a solid by letting you go; the least you could do is kill me before you run away!” (I don’t want to be eaten by a giant).

I wonder will Eren eventually befriend a Titan and that’ll be the turning point… – Oh holy hell… no he won’t!

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Hannes the soldier – running away from the Titan instead of engaging – I feel you Hannes, you’re a soldier, but you’re afraid. Of course I never would have become a soldier because I’m afraid. Just sayin’

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“Hurry if you don’t want to be eaten…” I never want to hear someone screaming those words at me. Ever.

All those people living in that city are traumatized. The gate’s closed, leaving them behind to die by Titan, that’s horrible. But, well, maybe it’s for the best; like everyone in Game of Thrones… maybe it’s better to go out now, happy one day, eaten the next! I mean the soldiers are happy, then traumatized, then eaten!

Hannes, the soldier, is screaming at Eren that his mother died because he’s weak. In fairness the mother’s not gone because anyone’s weak, she’s gone because a massive man-eating monster ate her!

Eren’s having all these flashbacks of his Dad injecting him with something (he’s been acting the maggot!). I wonder… that dark-haired titan I’ve seen around on pictures and tumblr… is he a genetically engineered titan – from Eren’s DNA?

And… end 🙂

Update: I finished the series, I won’t ruin anything – only to say it’s as good as everyone says it is!

I noticed that… well, a lot of the Titans run… a little like I do…? (the fat, or short ones, not the cool ones) it’s sad, disturbing, but true… I run like a Titan… wow, wow… ah geez…

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And then, Just to say, my favourite character is Jean Kirstein… and I leave you with this epic gif of him fighting a Titan…

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Giant Human-Gobbling Babies

biggerqRidley: I’ve been in the middle of an anime marathon, or maybe it’s an anime coma? I’m never certain which is more accurate to describe what I do. Basically when I find an anime series that is really good, I devour each episode over hours or days without pausing (it depends on how long I have free), watching until my eyes hate me and my body begs for sleep. This time the series was called Attack on Titan. It’s being hailed as the must see anime for 2013, obviously as it’s now January 2014, I didn’t get that early memo, but better late than never, eh?

Basically it’s about a world where humans have lived inside huge high walls, sealed off from the titans, which are giant creatures that devour humans, just for the fun of it.shingeki-no-kyojin-episode-10-pic6 (1)

It starts off with all the settlements within the walls having lived in relative safety and peace for 100 years, then a colossal titan smashes through the main gate of the outer most wall and all hell breaks loose.images

The outer settlement retreats behind an inner war, there’s turmoil, famine and now the threat of the titans is far more real than ever before. For us, the story centres around three friends, Eren Yeager, Mikasa Ackerman, and Armin Arlert.images (3)attack-on-titan-mikasa-punch shingeki-no-kyojin-episode-8-pic1

After they each endure horrific personal tragedy, they decide to train to become elite soldiers that will fight the Titans, using special Manoeuvre Equipment, which enables them to swing (though its more like they fly) through the air on metal harnesses that harpoon out and attach to builds. I think I’d love the ability to travel like that and to use the double swords like they do, but if given half a chance, I know I’d probably accidentally slice something off or smash into a wall at high speed within three minutes of putting the equipment on.attack-on-titan-video-game-featured

I must say the series is creepy, it’s weird, it’s quite gory, and it’s brilliant.  It doesn’t pull any punches, you really get a feeling no character, no matter how important, is safe. Titans can snatch up anyone and eat them, and you will see them being eaten.bigger

To me, the titans resembled large human-gobbling babies, and actually when they start running can be quite terrifying, (though this one running is kinda funny) but then you have to imagine this 15 meter giant barrelling down towards you is about to crush or eat you:

There’s so much in this series to keep you watching, with various ongoing mysteries, which keep you pressing play over and over, you are left questioning where the titans suddenly appeared from and why they eat humans when they don’t need food.vnIMuIA There’s also pure raw human emotions and individual reactions to the devastation wrought by the titans. The author has said that one of the main influences on the series was the inner feelings of people. This is a strong element throughout, we see characters dealing with their total terror and grief, of seeing things they never should have to witness. Some of the characters overcome their fear, and others don’t.  At one point, I did stop and think about what a world like that would really be like, how I would react, and I decided I can’t say I’d have ever had the courage to become a soldier and fight off the giants. I think I’d still like to have the uniform though…images (2)

The anime doesn’t finish as such, it’s left open ended, it’s like a long teaser to get you hooked on the world and the story, so that you’ll then start reading the manga, where hopefully all our burning questions will be answered. So…

To the manga!

Manga and Me

I'm a manga nut and I'm okay!!
I’m a manga nut and I’m okay!!

Latimer: I’m a bit of a manga nut.

I really adore them. They are also the means through which I’ve developed, rightly or wrongly, my view of Japanese, and to some degree Korean, culture!

I’m a fangirl, so I love shoujo – the girly manga! I love the ones set in schools; the drama between the school president and the yankee, or the shy girl and the cool guy.

In Korean ‘shoujo’ manhwa there’s always (ALWAYS) a jjang (leader of the gang), in the story. Sometimes it’s the girl, and sometimes it’s the boy. So again, I know I’m misguided, but I just assume in every Korean high-school there are warring factions of gangs, and everyone can fight and kick-ass! And everyone is angry… so angry!

I wouldn’t be able to hide my disappointment if I turned up (very randomly) at a Korean high-school and I wasn’t caught in a show-down between two rival gangs from opposing schools. Even though I don’t speak the language, I’d know… I’d just know what was going on. I’d know the first jjang had kissed the other jjang’s sister, or belittled her… and I’d stand there fists waving in the air screaming.

“Oh it’s on! FIGHTING”

Then if I ended up at a Japanese high-school, I’d be looking for the yankee (the bad boy, delinquent) and the bookish girl – or the tsundere (initially cold character who shows their good side in time – a staple of the shoujo!) school president and the silly, but kind-hearted girl… and I’d be chuckling to myself thinking; “Oh how is this going to turn out!”

It's Yank-mee!! Nani TEME!!
It’s Yank-mee!! Nani TEME!!

Ah, manga (and manhwa), you really distort reality for me (but in a way that makes me so happy)! Reading them is a roller-coaster ride of emotions!

Pandora Hearts, confuses me, makes me gasp in awe, then confuses me again…

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Naruto always makes me emotional – it’s the best manga for making you empathize with the baddies, because they were good once… or they have these tear-inducing back-stories…

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Kamisama Hajimemashita makes my fangirl squee – such a lovely romance story! 

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Tomoe is a Kitsune (fox) demon – not a vampire (though it looks that way here!) …. Anyway, I’m off on Cloud Squee!

Anything by Minami Maki will make me laugh and wait desperately for the next chapter; her stories and artwork are sweet and cute and hilarious…

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Then, recently (and as it’s a week for pets!), I came across this webcomic (they seem to be v.popular in Korean – at least to my untrained eye). It’s called My Young Cat and My Old Dog (by Cho) and it is… wonderful…

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If you have a pet, it will make you cry.

At times the issue/episode/chapter is about the young playful pet and all the silly things they do. Then at times it’s about the old pet, who isn’t quite as fast as they used to be, or sleeps more than they used to. It’s those one’s that grab your heart and squeeze the feels out, leaving you gasping and in tears (I am an emotional being!).

I'm 16 years old 1 im 16 I'm 16 years old 2I have an old, old dog, and those episodes make me pause and think of him 😦

Well, but there’s lots of joy to be had in the series too, things that make you remember how wonderful your pet is. How selfless and how they love you unconditionally; they love you for you, no other reason and we love them too..

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Ah, manga and manhwa, you give me so many different feelings – and I love you for it 🙂

Christmas Reading List

Wow, Christmas is here already! How quick was that? Seems like only the other day it was Summer (such as it was here in Ireland!)!

While things wind down and we have a bit of time off, we can relax and finally gorge on… food, yes… but more importantly reading!

Reading copious amounts of books sometimes feels like eating cakes; you wolf them down and then are left thinking; ‘why did I do that?! It’s gone now!’. Of course there’s always another cake during the holidays!

With that in mind, we’ve decided to put together a wee list of books we are planning on gorging on this Christmas!

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Late to the game, we are both going to read Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth – you could say very up and coming – or already up and came, and we are just very late to the show!

Latimer: My understanding of this series – dystopia (buzz word at the moment, like an –omics, ha, science joke), hmm, there’s sure to be a romance in it and hmm, something about lots of factions and fighting. Okay, honestly, I might be going into this one a little blind!

Ridley: I’m looking forward to this one, the reviews have been good and it seems interesting!!

Latimer: I finally bought The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (finally because I think I have been looking at this one for years thinking ‘I must get that book’). The story is; a boy, called Nobody (I like that already), is raised in a graveyard by ghosts. That’s pretty much all I know; I’m looking forward to it! I’ve only read one Gaiman book (which was a co-authorship with Terry Pratchett; Good Omens, a very good book!). I like the humorous writing style of these two authors, so really looking forward to this book (on a side note, I really want to read Gaiman’s Sandman comics… another story that!).

Ah yes, I’m going to give Delirium by Lauren Oliver a go too… All I know; love is a disease and you can’t love people in this dystopia world (I’m not a massive dystopia fan, but seems most of my loot this year is dystopic in origin!). I absolutely hate the cover of this book (the picture is the cover I have); but that aside, I think the book sounds very interesting!

And I will finally… FINALLY read Angelfall by Susan Ee (again dystopia!), which has a massive Ridley Stamp of Approval (RSA) and therefore, I have no doubt, it will be excellent and so, you should definitely seek out this book out if you haven’t read it yet!

Ridley: And why, pray tell, is this not first on your list!? Thoroughly disgusted I am that you haven’t read this yet! (My RSAs usually have Latimer running out to grab the book-and vice versa I might add- though I know she’s been busy….publishing, editing, working, writing, sleeping, eating, drawing…PAH!) *crosses arms with a pout**

Latimer: Also plan to do a spot of manga reading if I can 🙂 (in English, not Japanese!)

Then I have to do a bit of writing (ah, more than a bit really, I’m behind on a few things! Eep! :(). And eating; currently I have located a packet of ‘Irish Shortbread Biscuits’ and am wolfing them down happily (by myself, I glare if anyone touches them!) with tea in my Moomin cup of an evening 🙂 I love Christmas… food food food… yums (we might be having a cheese board this year, I’m excited haha :))

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Yes, the biscuits are shaped like shamrocks, which is a little obvious, but that’s alright they are delicious 🙂

As Christmas ticks on, we’ve been working on editing a short story we wrote; it’s called Temperance (meaning moderation and self-restraint :)) and is a moment in the past of our character, Temperance Levinthal from Legend Unleashed. It’s going to be free and we hope to have it out as soon as it’s fit to be seen! But we can share this with you (cover time…)

Temperance offical cover

 

Ridley: Ah Temperance, we’re working away on this little story, we hope to share it with you in the new year! Fingers crossed you like it!

And now, some of my books for this Christmas include…

Seraphina, I’ve had my eye on this one for a bit. I just love the old school, sketchy cover. I’ve been on the YA train for so long, it’ll be good to get back to my fantasy roots with this! There are dragons in this world that can shape shift into humans…intriguing, no?

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Again, more fantasy, another one on my list to get, Shadow and Bone. I can’t wait!! Our friend on deviantart, mseregon, also recommended this! She gave us loads of fantastic ideas for our next book too! 

The main character is whisked off to a royal court after it’s discovered that she has dormant powers. There’s also a bit of a possible love interest in her best friend too. So yes please!

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I loved the first book in this series, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor, her world building is just beautiful. Prague is such a fantastic setting for her book. And there was a great mystery woven throughout it, so really looking forward to what’s going to happen in this next instalment as there was a bit of a cliff hanger in the last one. I was left going (O_O) at the end! Haha.
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In The Assassin’s Curse, there is, obviously, a curse! It forces the two main characters together. There’s a possible love triangle (i think) and better yet, pirates! How could you not want to read this? Plus the cover is beautiful. I’m a sucker for a good cover!
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So finally everybody, have a lovely Christmas and New Year (if we don’t see you before then!)!

Enjoy your reading time, and let us know if you come across any book gems!!

MLR 🙂

So, what do you do without a laptop?

What does Latimer do without a laptop?

Latimer: I bet the saga of my kamikaze laptop has gotten old at this point! But this is just an insight into what I’ve been doing without one!

Well, first off time’s ticking by… the clock is running down, getting closer and closer to ‘MLR-day’ haha. We’ve been busy editing our book and what not. Editing using Ridley’s lovely laptop (I’m getting envious now! she’ll wake up one day and it’ll be gone, a Latimer shaped hole in her wall… me running across the green outside her house, screaming ‘my precious!’!!).

I’m due to get my new replacement soon (two weeks or so). So I’m getting jittery. 

My old hard-drive has gone completely mental and is shutting down the IT guy’s laptops… it’s gone kamikaze, it’s dying and it’s going to take everyone with it! Every time I get an update, it’s like the situation is getting more and more hopeless…

 Moving on from all that nastiness…

I’ve been unwinding in the meantime, doing some artwork… this is an insight into Latimer’s chillax time!

I decided to make my brother a birthday card (ha, and his birthday was in July! God… you see this is what happens when I have a laptop, other things fall by the wayside… yes, that includes the birthdays of loved ones!!).

He lives in Australia, so about all he’s going to get off me is a card, so I figured it better show I put some effort into it!! He’s a massive comic book fan, specifically batman, so I made him a Batman inspired card.

I edited and redrew some chibi’s I found (a Hermonie chibi, a Batman Chibi and a Catwoman chibi) and put them together to form a ‘Latimer’ card. I also finally used the other Japanese art-stuff I bought… cutting mat, cutting knife and Deleter high-lighter paint and brush. So, without a laptop to distract me, I had a chance to use the stuff..

The magical box where I keep my copic markers. It’s a biscuit box (from Bruges in Belgium). It’s a little creepy with that girls face on it!!
Latimer Potter

The idea is magical, Potter me, transforming my brother and his wife into Batman and Catwoman, so they can fight crime in Australia (haha)!

Brother as Batman
Wife as Catwoman
Putting the cover together
Brother and wife inside the card… and crazy me!!

It was fun putting it together… a job done you could say!! I gave myself a tick on my list of ‘outdated things that may never get done’… that’s a long list let me tell you… people get things off me years later, confused they go ‘what’s this for?!’ I will smile, ‘your birthday… last year…I’ll get you something next year for your birthday this year!!’.

Randomly, at the weekend, I also got it into my head that I would like to make a stop-motion model of myself and Ridley (after watching the making of Paranorman character ‘Norman’).

There’s more to it than I thought.. haha (stupid me of course there is!), rigs and stuff that are expensive… and to do it properly would take a lot of skill and time. Maybe in the future I’ll have a go, but for now, I settled for drawing what I would like the stop-motion model me and Ridley to look like… (maybe one day someone will make them for us!! I would go to Laika and say, ‘build us! build us!’)

Latimer and Ridley… as stop motion models!!

It’s random I know, but these are the things I think about! Things I get into my head. What would stop-motion me and Ridley look like? Can I make them? They would look great in the office… haha.

While I was doing all of this, I was listening to the Tell em Steve-Dave podcasts (staring Bryan Johnston, Walt Flanagan, Brian Quinn, Ming Chen and sometimes Mike Zapcic and the great, Sunday Jeff, who only works on sundays 🙂 ).

I love them! They are friends of the director and writer Kevin Smith (of Jay and Silent Bob- he’s Bob). The podcasts are part of the fantastic Smodcast network. Which since I’ve found it, I’m fascinated by it (I get obsessed very quickly)!! I love how Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier have built this empire; a new empire for a new age, the age of podcasting! It’s such a brilliant idea, but I love his thoughts on it.

Kevin is like, these are conversations I can have with all my friends, I can listen back to them, I can have them forever. It’s such a brilliant idea; and Kevin Smith is actually a very cool interesting guy (as are all his friends!).

I never realised this was all going on, I love finding new corridors in the hotel of life.

This video was made by an Irish fan of the Tell em Steve-Dave boys (and they were so in awe of it; so amazed and happy that someone would have made it for them for no reason other than he was a fan). He animated it all based on a conversation the guys had about Walt delivering comics to a guy that couldn’t come to the shop (Jay and Bob’s Secret Stash on Broad St, Red Bank, NJ- Walt is the manager and runs the shop which is owned by Kevin Smith).

The guys of Tell em Steve-Dave kept me company as I drew!

Well, without the laptop I’ve managed to draw some pictures and actually make my brother a birthday card, so it’s been good.

 But, God, hopefully I’ll have one soon 🙂

One Piece of what?

Since returning home to Ireland from Japan, Latimer has begun to wonder- what is One Piece and why was it stalking her across Tokyo?

Latimer: I am a massive manga and anime (subbed) fan. I follow, what I term, two ‘epics’- Naruto and Bleach.

While some would say, you like cartoons seriously? I would reply; stories are stories, no matter the media… and I love a good story!

Naruto (by Kishimoto Masashi) started out initially as the story of a very annoying child. But as it progressed it turned out to be a very deep story; one of friendship, love, loss and betrayal. Naruto as a main character grows as the series progresses and becomes an actual inspirational figure in his world. No, he isn’t the strongest; no, he isn’t the best looking and NO he isn’t the coolest. But, he is the most courageous and determined. He comes to embody a true hero; someone who never gives up and will sacrifice everything to save his friends and even random strangers. It’s actually a great story about the growth of the individual (not just Naruto, but all the characters, villians and goodies alike).

Then there’s Bleach (by Tite Kubo). The story of an ordinary boy, Kurosaki Ichigo (not that ordinary as it turns out) who becomes a substitute Shinigami (or ‘death god’/soul reaper). He reaps ghosts that have become wild, beast-like creatures called ‘hollows’. The story really comes into its own when the real Shinigami (a woman called Rukia) who appointed Ichigo as a substitute Shinigami, is arrested for doing just that. The story gets some real pace when we are introduced to the Captains of Soul Society (the Shinigami world).

I wouldn’t say that Bleach has the emotional heart of Naruto (Ichigo is typical shounen (boys) manga main character material- he’s strong and keeps getting stronger and has powers likely beyond anyone that’s ever existed).

Ichigo isn’t as limited as Naruto in terms of strength, which lessens his chance of having the same emotional draw. It actually highlights the importance of character flaws. It is often stated in the DC comic and Marvel comic worlds, that all superheroes must have a cap on their abilities, otherwise we can’t understand or respect their struggles- ultimately for us mere mortals to fully connect with a character we must see that they are at least in part, as crap as us!

That aside, Ichigo’s story is very intriguing and when he gets strong enough to stand up to someone- it’s great! But there’s only so many battles that that can stay cool for.

I enjoy both Naruto and Bleach for different reasons. But, as Naruto is my first epic (Bleach is Ridley’s) it has a slightly bigger place in my heart.

 

One Piece (my Tokyo stalker) is older than both Bleach and Naruto. I know this because Wikipedia told me.

I thought because Bleach and Naruto were massive in the West, we wouldn’t be able to move for Bleach and Naruto junk in Tokyo.

Oh, how wrong I was… instead I was stalked around the city by ONE PIECE… it was in the shops, on the subway… in the cinema… at the airport… it was FOLLOWING me and I knew nothing about it! That always annoys me.

It’s supposed to be a fantastic story. It is extremely popular… and the marketing was working on me… I wanted to know about it.

So, I decided I would A) do a One Piece Stalking me post, and B) in order to do this, I would watch 1 episode of One Piece.

It’s an epic story (551 episodes long TO DATE). The manga is a staggering 15 years old this August (and still ONGOING)!

I can’t commit to this; but I am curious (good marketing Tokyo… very good).

So, I am now going to watch my first episode (before this, I’ll get some tea, in my new Moomin Cup I got in Harajuku’s Kiddyland- that’s a shop, by the way!).

Okay, now I’m ready to go… (I will record initial thoughts):

(Pirates… uh-oh, not a fan of the sea)

(One Piece is some mythical treasure)

(That orange-haired girl has massive hands)

(Damn, this cup is SMALL… but that’s a fine cup of tea if I do say so myself- Lyons Tea, are you listening?)

(I’ve learned new words: Muri desu- ‘it’s impossible’. ‘KAIZOKU’ is a pirate- interesting because ‘kazoku’ is family- so you got to be careful when saying KAIzoku and KAzoku! Makes me wonder; have I ever said; “there are 5 people in my pirate”, in my old Japanese classes?)

(Monkey… the main character is called Monkey?)

(Monkey reminds me of Naruto- he’s pretty annoying… but this likely means he has great potential as a main character?)

(Monkey ate a fruit that makes him essentially elastic… and therefore strong? Yep. Someone (a massive ‘woman’ pirate that looked like a man) just hit him with a giant Morningstar and he was fine)

(He is a lone pirate looking for a crew. Obviously that means the orange-haired girl anyway)

(End: if someone could download the story into my head, then fine, but I can’t watch 551 episodes…)

I’ll tell you what though, I am very interested in something as a result of one split moment… The orange-haired girl was running around in the background of the whole episode, looting from the pirates. Then, she’s escaping off the ship at the end of the episode; Monkey is also. His escape boat crashes down beside hers, spraying her with a wave of seawater (she screams). Then, the camera shot slows down and they look at each other for a brief moment…

My lasting thought… do they fancy each other? Does Monkey have a thing for the Orange-haired girl? I know she’s important because…

she was on the cover of the orange-juice I bought!

Tokyo Time!

Konnichiwa from Nippon!

Meiji Jingu shrine and Harajuku

Ridley: Our first proper day in Tokyo was last Sunday as we spent much of Saturday completely jet lagged-sleeping on long haul flights is just so damn difficult-when we arrived, we were like zombies. We stumbled our way through the streets, trains and subway to our hotel, where we slept till the next morning.

As it was Sunday, we decided to head to Harajuku. There we saw the Meiji Jingu shrine (we also wanted to see all the cosplayers dress up in costumes of their favourite anime characters). The day consisted of us getting confused (pretty standard), praying, wetting our hands to purify them and witnessing a Shinto wedding at the Shrine!

I was busy trying to capture ‘artistic’ photos of the wall of wooden blocks filled with people’s prayers, when a very nice (and extremely thoughtful) Japanese man came over to me.

He said ‘wedding parade’ and he gestured for me to come with him. So I shuffled forward to where he was pointing and saw the wedding procession. I think I thanked the man in about three different languages before I got it right! He didn’t have to do that, it was very kind of him and it’s the little things like that, that really make your holiday! I have to say the Japanese are the politest, most helpful of people.

Other things that happened at the shrine; we took many pictures of the large old decorated barrels of sake.

Latimer got chased by a fly all the way there (it really wouldn’t leave her alone) no matter how many times she’d flayed her arms around like a crazy woman.

The praying part took us a while to master. I think we seemed like stalkers as we studied the people around us so we could copy what they were doing. They all give their donations first, then they clapped twice, prayed and bowed twice, but each person had a difference sequence of these three. Eventually we both went with what we thought would work for us. At the end of the day, we were trying to be respectful, the good intentions were there!

Outside of Meiji Jingu, we squeezed down through one of the main Harajuku shopping streets, Takeshita.

Latimer: wherein you can buy all manner of crazy clothes, I will return for odd tights and socks at a later date. Before I bought lots of clothes along this street, but I’m not sure I’m up for a mad shopping spree this time. Might just stick to tights this time.Ridley: Then we doubled back, passed the park in search of people dressed up. Instead of them, however, we stumbled upon a load of stalls selling food and tribal art. There were crowds of people in the middle of picnics and a large stage with singers. I wondered (out loud) if it was some sort of African festival, having not seen the giant Jamaican flags and colours-everywhere. However, I did see the annoyed look of disbelief directed at me from one man, yes people, the blond does seep all the way through sometimes. There was a definite haze nearer the stage too (teehee-it could have been smoke from the barbeque too though…) so we held our breaths and scurried away to continue our search.

Consequently, because of this festival (we think) not many (at all) of the cosplay Harajuku people turned up that Sunday. Only the rockabilly boys were there, dressed up in leather jackets with giant quiffs. They were dancing outside Yoyogi park, which was brilliant too. Inside the green, there were comedians (though we couldn’t understand them, they were getting a lot of laughs), there were dancers, musicians, loads of groups doing yoga or playing Frisbee. There was hardly any part of the large park that wasn’t occupied. We wandered for ages through it all and then sat on a bench to people watch.

Latimer: from a distance we observed a mime artist setting up his act. A group of boys passed by, one decided to sit down in front of the mime artist and await his act. His friends were forced to join him. The jury was out on whether they wanted to or not. Ridley watched the mime artist and noticed the act was flagging; “he’ll loose his audience if he keeps up the crap Olympic ring-acrobat miming.” She nodded. I got bored and started people watching. I saw a westerner on a bike walking his dog. Odd I thought, what if he went too fast or the dog got startled? By the time I looked back at the mime, the boys were gone, his audience diminished. “Where’d they go?” Ridley gave a deep nod, “Lost his audience didn’t he.”  

Ridley: There was man playing a music on possibly an erhu beside us. There were rounds of head bowing from us and him when we were leaving. 

The next day was Akihabara….

Where it was brilliant, crazy, loud, colourful and just plain fantastic all rolled into one!

We’ve gotten so many pictures of the billboards, the anime, the manga and all the technical stuff that’s for sale here.

There were also loads of girls dressed up in maid costumes…

Latimer: Ridley was caught staring at the maid-dreaming café.

Some of the maids that lined the busy Akihabara streets must have misinterpreted her confusion as interest.She was swiftly handed a flyer by a school-girl in a maid costume with a happy, high-pitched ‘irasshaimase’. Without thinking, Ridley took the flyer. She stared, still baffled.

The odd, anime-esque map, depicting a girl and her rabbit/dog thing, plotted a course through Akihabara towards what we could only imagine was a café full of maids waiting happily to serve the masses- but were we wrong? Was it actually a cry for help? Were the maids prisoners in some strange anime-esque story of betrayal and corruption- was she the only one that could get away- was she trying to get help for her friends?

Had we, the adventurous, intrepid gaijin, in fact scorned her cries? We’ll never know. In true shoujo-anime style, I hope some bishounen (pretty boy) swept in to save her and her friends, as myself and Ridley enjoyed our curry dinner (yums).

Ridley: We went to a cat café instead of the maid one, it was the less strange of the two options. Though it was still very surreal, being in the middle of Tokyo city, randomly petting other people’s pet cats. We went to Ja La La café, which shows up in an accurate location on google maps when you type in it. The door slides open not pulls open, for anyone going there-took us awhile to realise that one. We stood outside like idiots wondering how to get in, I just kept worrying we’d let the cats out. Eventually we knocked and we were ushered into a room with about twelve cats all lounging around. Though we first had to take off our shoes and wash our hands before we were allowed touch the cats. Just in case we were diseased or anything. We were there for 30 minutes, where Latimer had more luck with the little felines. She had two cats stalking a toy she’d started to wave round, they ignored me, despite numerous attention grabbing tactics. I pouted and told them all my cat at home likes me, sometimes. Eventually this gorgeous tabby here and I made friends. He was purring as he lay on his back half asleep. Very Kawaii (cute)! There was also the biggest cat I’ve ever seen there (a Maine Coon). Really beautiful! He kept turning his head, avoiding me deliberately as I took pictures, fame will make you hate the camera it seems! Going to a cat café is definitely something extremely different to do and after all, that’s what Japan is all about, doing things out the ordinary!

Latimer: The Maine was the biggest cat I ever saw in my life. Like a tiny Tiger cub. But, my god, the cat café reeked of cat (surprise surprise). Might need to air out your clothes after ward!

Later that day, as we walked through Asakasa of an evening, we were asked by some Korean business men (with pretty good English) did we know the way to their hotel. We stared, laughing inside (of course we didn’t know the way). We said ‘no’. Then Ridley said; “why don’t you pop into a shop and ask?” (this seems like a straightforward statement). The businessmen stared, then shook their heads and went on their way. Of course to Ridley it seemed like going into a shop and asking for directions just wasn’t the done thing.

Ridley: There really seemed like there was so much disapproval in his face at the time, now I realise he was just perplexed! 

Latimer: I wondered- just what did the Korean man think ‘pop into a shop’ meant? Ha, well to us it’s ‘to go into a shop’. This is just an example of Irish English isn’t necessarily English-English! Pop into a shop… haha, what must that sound like? What do people think when they hear Irish people say ‘grand’? That’s probably a word that is used very regularly by us, but likely makes no sense to non-Irish-English speakers!

More later on our adventures!

We’re working our way through Tokyo and we’ve been taking lots of pictures….don’t miss out!