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Wednesday, 30 September 2015

BLOG -- Recap of September

Besides Fan Expo Canada and a couple other gatherings, September was more or less uneventful, which is fine. I mean, I do get kinda antsy if I don't get enough Me Time... and I also get kinda antsy if I'm not connected enough. I guess I need to find some balance. It's given me some time to think about things. I'm not sure if I will elaborate on any of those thoughts here, but one thing I've been thinking about is "My World" -- how I've been defining it, and how I really want to define it. Hmmm... will anything come from all my thinkings? I wonder, hahaha.


Outings/Events in September:
- Attended Fan Expo Canada. 

- Enjoyed a week-long vacation (to recover from Fan Expo Canada).

- Had a one-sided voicechat on PSN with a friend. The person responded via PSN messages while I spoke. It was a really fun time! :)

- Had nightmares for 5 nights straight, causing me to wake up around 5-ish AM instead of my usual 6:30 AM -- that messed up my sleeping schedule for a while. XP

- Attended a friend's baby shower. One game we did was "Taste-test and guess the baby food". Hahaha... was a fun time!

- Tripped on a box of DVDs in my room. That'll teach me to have my stuff lying around randomly, hahaha... >.>''

- Went karaoking by myself.



- Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn achievements / news: 
-I stayed up to around 5:20 AM trying to create an alt character on Gilgamesh server to attend my friend's upcoming wedding. I was at the character creation screen pretty much that whole day, lol.
-My main character is currently leveling up multiple classes to prepare for a cosplay event that's happening in October. Lots of leveling... @.@'''




Exposures:
- (Video Game) Persona 4: Dancing All Night -- I'm enjoying this so far! I can only try the Free Play mode right now since I still haven't beaten Persona 4 Golden. Once I start Story Mode, it'll go in my "Currently Playing" section.


Finished...
Watching:
- (Movie): My Life So Far -- I watched this mainly for Colin Firth. It started off as something light and playful. Then it went another direction... and I ended up not liking Colin Firth's character.

- (Movie): The Untouchables -- This was really good.
 
- (Movie): Step Up All In -- This is the 5th Step Up movie, and I think it's about time they retire the series, hahaha. There were some amusing dance sequences, but this was very cheesy for the most part. I liked bringing back the old characters (Moose is still so awesome) but I didn't like the romance written between the two main characters. Maybe I should blog about the Step Up series one day... hmmm.

- (Movie): Despicable Me -- This was my first time watching it, and I really liked it. I watched it during my friend's baby shower and I must say it was a very appropriate movie for the occasion.

- (Movie): The Loved Ones -- For a movie with a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes... I didn't like it. It kinda just seemed like a torture horror movie, and I'm not a big fan of gore. I guess I'm just blind to what made it awesome to everybody else.

- (Movie): The Five Senses -- This was okay. I like the story for Smell, Touch, and Sight. However, I thought the main conflict was horribly implemented.

- (Anime): Time of EVE: The Movie -- This started off slow but I liked it by the end. I think I would love to have a robot companion.

- (Anime): Mawaru - Peguindrum -- This was a really weird series with lots of mystery. I'm not really sure if I fully understand it even after watching it to the end. It did make me think of things about destiny, fate, and life. Many of the characters were off-putting at first but I liked more of them at the end.


Playing:
- Nothing at this time.

 
Reading:
- (Novel): Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead -- This is the 3rd book to the Vampire Academy series. I found this book really exciting, though I hated the ending.

- (Novel): Blood Promise by Richelle Mead -- This is the 4th book to the Vampire Academy series. This one felt much more slow-paced, though it got more interesting in the end.

- (Novel): Spirit Bound by Richelle Mead -- This is the 5th book to the Vampire Academy series. If I had to choose between Dimitri or Adrian, it would be Adrian, lol. I love Adrian's loyalty and his willingness to give up smoking for the woman he loves.


Currently... 
Playing (not all at once):
- (PS3): Borderlands 2   
- (PS3): Steins; Gate
- (3DS): Bravely Default
- (3DS): Liberation Maiden 
- (3DS): Fantasy Life
- (3DS): Senran Kagura Burst
- (GBA): The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition   
- (PSP): Persona 
- (PSP): Crush
- (PSVita): Persona 4 Golden
- (Wii): Fortune Street 
- (PS2): Atelier Iris 2 
- (PC): UnEpic  
- (PC): King's Bounty: The Legend
- (Mobile): Dragon Quest


Watching:
- (TV Show): The Walking Dead (Season 5)
- (TV Show): Orphan Black (Season 3)  
- (Anime): Yu Yu Hakusho (don't remember)
- (Anime): Shakugan no Shana (Season 1 -- Episode 19)
- (Anime): Log Horizon (episode 3)
- (Anime): K-On! Season 2 (episode 3)



Reading:
- (Novel): Last Sacrifice by Richelle Mead (Last Book [!] of the Vampire Academy series)


That's it for September. Here are a couple pics I took this month. They're both video game screenshots.


 Choosing your difficulty for Persona 4 Golden. I love the description 
for "Very Hard". I'm playing in "Normal" difficulty. I ended up restarting 
the game since I didn't continue it for a long time.

Amusing screenshot from Steins; Gate [the text].
 

Thanks for reading! As always, feel free to comment if you have anything to say, and have a good rest of the week! :)

Sunday, 27 September 2015

BLOG (PERSONAL) -- My Music Timeline [Part 3 -- 2001 - 2003]

So here is Part 3 of my Music Timeline. You can check out the last two parts here:

  -Part 1: http://ironixgirl.blogspot.ca/2013/09/blog-personal-my-music-timeline-part-1.html
  -Part 2: http://ironixgirl.blogspot.ca/2014/01/blog-personal-my-music-timeline-part-2.html 

As mentioned in the last two parts, when it comes to music my general line of thinking is this: A song and its singer are two different entities. I can like a song even if I don't like or care about the singer. This can also be applied to songs and TV shows / series.



Overview of 2001 - 2003
So between 2001 and 2003, a couple things happened that greatly shifted my exposure to music:

1. My Music-Vocal class in school had a Musical unit for part of the year
2. I joined the school's anime club

While growing up, I always had a curiosity for musicals, but never had the chance to really look into it until I had to for school. The major assignment for that unit was to perform a song from a musical. Wanting to sing a song I had a strong attachment to, I searched around to find what that song could be.

I listened to musical soundtracks at the public library. I borrowed and watched whatever movie-musicals I could find. I even borrowed sheet music and played the melody on a piano at home. Through my searching, I got particularly interested in Chess. It's a musical that involves chess-playing and some politics. Hopefully I'll be able to see it performed one day. For my assignment, I ended up singing Anthem from Chess.

Joining the school's anime club was a major turning point in my music timeline. Now, I did have interest in anime before joining the club (I had a secret love for Dragon Ball years ago when it first aired on TV). But -- it wasn't a very strong interest. Before joining the club, I only had one friend who liked anime and she was off at another school. 

Joining the anime club was like opening the door to a whole new world. My first friend in the club was a Dragon Ball fan, too, and we had many fun conversations about the series, as well as dreaming up scenarios with our "claimed boyfriend" (she claimed Trunks before I could, so I settled for Gohan -- which actually worked out well for me. Nerds are awesome <3). 

With her and a few other friends, my anime experience was almost like an adventure. We exposed each other constantly to new things -- either talking about any new series we were reading or watching, sharing websites that had such content, or sharing the series' lovely music. Sometimes we would also gather after school and watch a series together. I was exposed to my first shounen ai that way (Gravitation -- That series has such good music). I was also shown shops that carried anime products (back then, anime wasn't so mainstream). One of the shops had a wall full of anime soundtracks, and I kinda went wild on that, even sometimes buying soundtracks for series my friends have watched, but I haven't. I would find out years later that those soundtracks were actually bootlegs. :(

With websites that had download links for anime tracks (please don't judge me too harshly -- I didn't know how else to get the exposure), I decided to download indiscriminately. This meant I sometimes downloaded music tracks from series I didn't even know existed. My reasoning was, Why pass on it and risk regretting that I never got it? This was how I discovered X-Japan. 

It was late one night and I was working on an assignment. I had downloaded X-Japan's song days ago and it was on my playlist. I wasn't really paying too much attention since I was focused on my assignment. But then around the 4th time through, I noticed it: the song was in English! When I heard the actual lyrics, I was hit with this sadness. I don't know how to describe it, but it was an overwhelming feeling -- maybe of loneliness? Whatever it was, I connected to the song and the band immediately.

X-Japan became one of my go-to bands through those few years. I strove to listen to all of their songs, often singing along to the ones with English lyrics. The songs' sadness and pain really spoke to me back then. I think it helped express the pain and sadness I had in my early years, even though the songs' content weren't exactly related to what I went through. The sorrowful music was enough to connect me.

As for "Western" music (music that's known in North America), I didn't expose myself to too many new tunes. I stopped listening to the radio. I was way too focused on exposing myself to more anime music. I did, however, discover one way of still exposing myself to some "Western" music: AMVs! My first exposure to AMVs was in 2003. 

I think that's it for 2001-2003. I was also exposed to a bit of video game music, but I'll get into that during the next entry (whenever that will be). Also, I'll mention a new role I had that increased my exposure to anime music exponentially!



My Playlist
This time I have my playlist split between J-Rock, Anime, Musicals, and "Westerns". And as always, I know I will not be able to fully list my playlist. 


J-Rock
-X-Japan    
    -Crucify My Love
    -Say Anything
    -Tears
    -Endless Rain
    -Voiceless Screaming

Anime
-Ayashi no Ceres -- Scarlet

-Chobits
    -Let Me Be With You
    -Ningyohime

-Dragon Ball GT
    -Dan Dan Kokoro Hikarete ku
    -Blue Velvet

-Dragon Ball Z -- Boku-tachi wa Tenshi datta

-Fruits Basket -- For Fruits Basket

-Gundam Wing
    -Just Communication
    -Rhythm Emotion
    -White Reflection

-Gravitation
    -Glaring Dream
    -Glaring Dream ~secret air mix
    -Sleepless Beauty
    -Sleepless Beauty ~sacred beauty air mix
    -Shining Collection
    -In the Moonlight

-InuYasha
    -Change the World
    -My Will
    -Dearest
    -Every Heart

-Hikaru No Go
    -Get Over
    -I'll Be The One
    -Bokura no Bouken
    -Sincerely ~ever dream~

-One Piece
    -We Are!
    -Believe
    -Memories
    -Souchinosuke
    -GLORY -Kimi ga iru kara-
    -Shining Ray
    -Ready!

-Princess Mononoke -- Mononoke Hime

-Senkaiden Hoshin Engi
    -Will
    -Friends

-Serial Experiments Lain -- Duvet

-Shaman King -- Silent Weapon

Musicals
-A Chorus Line
    -Nothing
    -What I Did for Love

-A Funny Way to The Forum -- Comedy Tonight

-Chess
    -I Know Him Too Well
    -Anthem
    -Heaven Help My Heart
    -Quartet
    -Pity the Child

-Company -- Being Alive

-Fame (the musical)
    -Let's Play a Love Scene
    -I Want to Make Magic
    -The Teacher's Argument

-Fame (the movie-musical)
    -Out Here on My Own
    -I Sing the Body Electric
    -Fame

-Guys and Dolls
    -Luck Be A Lady
    -Guys and Dolls
    -I'll Know

-Les Miserables
    -One Day More
    -Confrontation
    -Empty Chairs at Empty Tables
    -Javert's <spoiler> (I just finish the song title since the last word is a spoiler!)
    -Who Am I? / The Trial
    -A Heart Full of Love
    -On My Own

-Man of La Mancha -- Impossible Dream

-My Fair Lady
    -Wouldn't It Be Loverly
    -I Could Have Danced All Night
    -Show Me

-Once on This Island
    -Ti Moune
    -Forever Yours
    -When We Are Wed
    -Forever Yours (Reprise)

-Rent -- Seasons of Love

"Western" (music that's more widely known in North America) -- For any songs where I was first exposed by watching an AMV, I'll note it like this: *
-Dan Hill
    -Daddy's Song
    -The Night We Met
    -Once Upon A Time

-K-Ci & JoJo
    -Hello Darlin'
    -Tell Me It's Real

-Linkin Park -- A Place for My Head *

-Metallica
    -The Unforgiven
    -Nothing Else Matters 

-Rufus Wainwright -- Hallelujah *

-Sarah Brightman -- Only an Ocean Away *

-Simple Plan -- I'm Just A Kid *   



Sample Playlist
If I could, I would link to more videos here. But then you'd be scrolling through a lot of videos!



X-Japan -- Crucify My Love
The song that exposed me to X-Japan. I don't fully get the lyrics, but it speaks to me.

From Senkaiden Hoshin Engi -- Friends
This song stuck to me more than the series 
(though to be fair, I've only watched about four episodes)

From One Piece -- Shining Ray
I love the light feel of this song.

From Company -- Being Alive
I love how powerful this song is, though I must 
disagree: being alone IS still alive, haha.

From Man of La Mancha -- The Impossible Dream
I used to sing this very often while in the shower, 
though not as moving as this performer. 
I love the lyrics. 

From Gravitation -- Sleepless Beauty ~sacred beauty air mix
Ahhhh... this sounds soooo soothing and nice...



Rufus Wainwright -- Hallelujah
This is the AMV that exposed me to the song. It has SPOILERS to Trigun, 
so watch at your own discretion. This video made me cry, haha.


 

Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment about anything. If you'd like to recommend some music to me, please do! :)

Also, happy late Mid-Autumn Festival! For anybody who ate moon cakes yesterday :)

Sunday, 20 September 2015

REVIEW/THOUGHTS [MANGA] -- Kodocha: Sana's Stage

Alternate Title(s): Kodomo no Omocha; Child's Toy; Kodocha 
Mangaka (Manga artist): Miho Obana
Number of Volumes: 10
Language Read: English
Licensed? (As of this entry): Yes BUT license was lost in 2006
Genre(s): Comedy, Drama, Romance, Slice-of-life
Overall Impression: This is hands down my favourite manga series. I would recommend this to everybody <3 <3



SPOILER ALERT WARNING!!
This review will contain some spoilers -- or rather, there will be a "Spoilers" section at the end of the review to go into further detail about certain things. There may still be slight spoilers throughout the review, but I've tried my best to keep them at a minimum.


PERSONAL STANDING (Pre-exposures, thoughts, etc.)
I was first introduced to this series waaaay back in 2003 / 2004 through my boyfriend at the time. It was supposedly his favourite series and he had me watch one episode of the anime. I was turned off by the show's wackiness and super high energy, but I still kept the series in mind and bought all 10 volumes of the manga later that year. I finished reading the manga within a week.

Even though I'm not with the guy anymore (I mean, I have blogged about my singledom for the past few years now), I'm always so grateful that he exposed me to this series... because it is now my favourite series -- favourite manga series, anyway.

Note: For the entire review, I will be referring to Kodocha: Sana's Stage as just Kodocha.


STORY
Kodocha follows child actress Sana Kurata as she tries to solve everybody's problems. And through it all, we get to see the various problems that she faces. We also get to see many of the problems Akito Hayama faces, a classmate Sana tried helping.

That's the story in a nutshell. I could go on, but... I think anything more would be spoiler territory.

I'll just say that I absolutely loved the story. I would say that the story is split into various mini arcs, and I enjoyed them all.

THE COMEDY + SERIOUSNESS
The tone of Kodocha is a good mix of wacky, comedic moments, and seriousness. There are often times where I'd think 'hahaha, this is funny and ridiculous', and then "sober up" immediately when something serious happens.

Although I personally enjoy the seriousness more, I welcome the comedy. They are a nice break and change of tone, they often add a little bit of personality to the characters, and also... I just like thinking sometimes, 'The artist thought of this?? Hahaha, that's so funny!'

Below is an example (read from right-to-left. You can also click the image to enlarge it. Page numbers may be a bit off. I should also say that any manga images shown are fan-scanlations, but I do own the entire licensed manga series):

The comedy. (From Volume 1; Page 35)

The seriousness. (From Volume 1; Page 37)


THE VARIOUS ISSUES
One thing that I really like about Kodocha are all the different issues the series addresses. It was really surprising to me, because A) many of the characters in Kodocha are really young (Sana is 11 years old at the beginning), and B) I've just never read any other shojo manga that addressed these issues. Some of the issues looked at include adoption, abandonment, suicide, domestic violence, bullying, overprotectiveness, death... and of course, Love.

Another thing I really like about Kodocha is how the various issues are addressed. I think they are treated very honestly, seriously, and respectfully. Sometimes different perspectives are offered and it makes me think more about it. I think the honest treatment of these issues still allow me to react genuinely. My heart can still be moved; I can still shed tears.

I'll mention some of the moments that still affect me greatly in the "Spoilers" section.

THE ROMANCE
I just have this here so that I could say that I loved all the romance! I actually thought the moments were more tender than anything else. Of course, with the characters being so young, there wasn't anything smutty, and that's perfectly fine. Funny enough, I find that the hugging moments in Kodocha carry stronger emotions than the kissing moments.


CHARACTERS


There are a ton of characters in Kodocha, the main main ones being Sana and Akito. Many of the other characters have some substance, and I personally like many of them. Even though drama happens sometimes between them, I can usually understand and sympathize with both sides. I think it's their honesty that allows me to like them so much. Hands down, though, Sana and Akito are my favourite, with Naozumi being a close second.

If I ever aspired to be any anime / manga character, it would be Sana. Not so much her bubbly outgoingness -- because that's just not really a part of me (I am very shy and introverted) -- but the desire to help others and wish well and happiness on others. I think I also share her denseness when it comes to Love, so I can really relate to her thoughts sometimes.

I'll say a little something about Sana, Akito, and Naozumi in the "Spoilers" section.


ARTWORK
I don't know if I really need to comment on this but I really enjoyed the art style. I think Miho Obana does a really great job of displaying character emotions, sometimes in a subtle way. She also does a really good job of showing the transition from one emotion to another, often through the character's eyes.

(From Volume 1; Page 68)

(From Volume 1; Page 69)


MANGA VS. ANIME


Well... I've only watched about 20-ish episodes of the anime series, so I can't make a completely fair comparison... but here goes:

As mentioned earlier, I personally find the wacky, high energy moments too much for me, but -- I enjoy the serious moments. From what I've watched so far, it seems to stay faithful to the serious content of the manga. However, with the anime series being 102 episodes long, I can only imagine that the story starts diverging at some point. I can also imagine possible differences in the character relationships.


CLOSING THOUGHTS
I wish Kodocha was still licensed. The manga series has been long out-of-print, but it does look like some volumes can still be bought at a decent price online. If you can get access to Kodocha, I highly, highly recommend it!!


Thanks for reading! If you want some more input about something I didn't cover, feel free to ask. :)

Now I'll do the scrolly thing so you don't see the "Spoilers" section right away. Then I'll add some more scrolly things after the "Spoilers" section in case anybody wants to comment, but not see the spoilers.

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SPOILERS

"I'll mention some of the moments that still affect me greatly." 

I know I am going to miss a lot of moments, but here goes:

-When Sana roleplays as Akito's mother and tells him she gave birth to him because she loves him.

-When Sana tells her real mother that she doesn't want to see her again, but then thanks her real mother for not having an abortion and for giving birth to her. Sana's words there still makes me shiver a little. Just the thought that a character like Sana might not have existed (haha, yeah, I know. I'm so silly. But I feel that way).

-When Sana visits Akito in the hospital and then rushes to his side, telling him she'll be with him, and then he says "Thank you".  I hear his "Thank you" as the most gentlest, sincere "Thank you" in the world.

-Akito's soft, content expression after Sana leaves the hospital. I can totally relate to and understand his expression.

-When Kazuyuki's mother keeps saying that Kazuyuki is the real victim and then Sana slams her purse, saying none of that doesn't matter -- all that matters is Akito, who is fighting for his life.

-When Kazuyuki tells his mother that he's killed himself over and over for her.

-When Akito's father says that as long as you have that one person you can depend on (be it lover or friend or family), you can get through anything.

-When Akito tells Sana how lonely he'll feel when he's in the US.

-When Naozumi pushes Sana away when she says that she loves him, Naozumi saying "How dare you say you love me so casually?".

-When Sana talks about her uncertainty about Love, and then says "I wanna ask all the girls who are in love how do they know? And how did it begin?"

-When Sana says at the end that she will have happy days and sad days and she will get through them.
 

---------------------------------------------

"I'll say a little something about Sana, Akito, and Naozumi."

Sana and Akito
I LOVE their love for each other. Whenever they express any affection for each other, either through supportive words or through gentle-yet-strong actions, I feel all warm and fuzzy. I think their love is very "pure" and "innocent". To quote from one of my favourite novels: "the way people take care of each other, the way they share life between them... the kind of love that keeps you alive" (author: Kristen D. Randle).

Naozumi
While I support Sana and Akito all the way, I still can't help but feel for Naozumi. Continuing to love and support somebody who doesn't reciprocate those feelings -- I think many people have been there before. I know I have. I just wish there was some way for him to have a happy ending as well.



If you read my spoilers, thank for reading! Now to finish with more scrolly things. If you disagree with anything or just want to say something, feel free to comment :D

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Friday, 11 September 2015

BLOG -- Fan Expo Canada 2015

I know it's been a few days since Fan Expo ended... but I had to recuperate before blogging! Hahaha, I am getting older after all... *sigh*

Anywho, I had a really fun time at Fan Expo. It was pretty much more of the same fun stuffs -- shopping for awesome things, seeing cool cosplay, and attending neat panels. A couple of the panels were very unique this year -- at least I've never seen them offered before. 

This year, I had the rare luxury of NOT needing an autograph from anybody! Woot! That meant I had more time to do other things. And I think it showed, since I left the convention earlier than previous years for each day (well, either it was because I didn't have autographs to get or because I just wanted to rush home to play Final Fantasy XIV... ^^''). Or... maybe I'm becoming more efficient in executing my battle plan of wandering around the place. Or maybe it's because I'm getting tired faster, hahaha... *sigh* In any case, I still felt I had a complete convention experience.

Just like last year, Fan Expo was split between the North and South building -- the North building having some dealers (mainly from the Sci-Fi and Horror aspect), being the place for autographs and for celebrity Q&A sessions; the South building having the rest of the dealers, the Artists Alley, the gaming / entertainment area, and smaller panels.

Just to warn you (as I always do): this blog will be quite long. I'll be covering each day of Fan Expo Canada -- what I did, what panels I attended, and any thoughts. That's four days' worth of blogging. I've lumped all my pics of cosplayers into one section. If you want to see just that, search for "Photos of Cosplayers". For the section of what I've bought, search for "My Convention Purchases". :)


The Little Details
Dates of Fan Expo Canada: September 3 - September 6, 2015
Location: Metro Convention Centre (Toronto, Ontario)
Ticket Price Total: $178.50 (Premium admission; Deluxe 4-day admission was $125)


Thursday
Time Attended: 2:00 PM - 6:30 PM
Funny coincidence is just like last year, I wasn't feeling so well this day and was thinking about skipping it again (I must be cursed! Arg). But around Noon I was like, 'Screw it, let's just try going anyway today' and made the hour commute down to the Metro Convention Centre. 

Since I had Premium admission, I was able to go through a special entrance that kinda avoided the regular lines. I must say that the convention organizers did a great job of it this time, since I did not experience much of any lining up just to get into the convention, like I've had in previous years. They do need to fix something, though, and I will mention it later in this blog.

Also, as a Premium attendee, I was able get into Fan Expo at 2 PM, whereas Fan Expo opened at 4 PM for regular attendees.
 
My Premium admission swag. 
The Star Wars lunchbox wasn't given out until Friday, 
to line up with the September 4th "Force Friday" thing.

Since I had absolutely no panels to attend today, I spent all my time roaming through Artists Alley and the South Dealers room. To sum it up briefly, I spent all the money I gave myself for today, took several pictures of cool cosplay, and gave my arm bruises from lugging all my purchases back home. The upside is that I did almost all of my shopping that day so less lugging around tons of purchases for the other days, yay!!

Misc. Photos for Thursday
Some Lego thing from HALO.


Lego C-3PO.


Lego R2-D2.


A history of a bunch of Lego Star Wars mini-figures through the years.


Some kind of promotional setup for the H8ful Eight movie. 
They were serving some shaved ice.


The shaved ice. They called it "Blood & Snow". It tasted like chicken, mmm...
Haha, just kidding. It tasted like strawberry.


The costs and schedules for the celebrity photo ops.
Some of the prices are really up there!


Friday
Time Attended: 9:15 AM - 6:15 PM
I thought I was running a bit late, but to my surprise the convention didn't open until 9:30-ish today. I guess some of the vendors or somebody was running late. As soon as the convention opened, I went to the South building and waited for my next panel to start. One thing I have to say: I completely forgot that panel rooms are super-air-conditioned so I was freezing in there.

Scary Stories -- 11:45 AM
This panel had six guests read scary stories. The first guest was Kane Hodder. He was actually supposed to read an excerpt from his autobiography Unmasked, but he didn't know about it and didn't bring the book, so the host suggested they have a brief Q&A session about Kane's book. 

In short, it was really interesting when Kane talked about his career as a stuntman, and how it's not very easy to have a career as a stuntman without connections. He also mentioned briefly being bullied while growing up, and how some readers were able to talk about their bullying experiences for the first time after reading his book. He seemed like a very humble and straightforward kind of person. It was really interesting.

For the rest of the panel, some of the stories read were scary while some weren't. The most memorable story for me was read by Sam Sutherland. He read a scary story that he wrote when he was in Grade 3. It -- was -- soooo -- funny! He brought the story with his Grade 3 illustrations and he made side comments every now and then. It was very, very enjoyable.

Another story I really enjoyed was read by Elma Begovic. And again, the story was written by her. It was an alternate version to the story of Bloody Mary. I thought she really captured a creepy-ish atmosphere with her story.

Another interesting story was read Melia McClure. She read "The Candle", a short story in the book "Every House is Haunted" by Ian Rogers. Unfortunately, we ran out of time before she could finish it, but what she read of it was very riveting. Maybe I'll have to pick up the book one day and finish reading the story myself.

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With about an hour to spare before the next panel, I browsed through the Artists Alley again, buying a few more things I missed on Thursday.

I guess I should say that while waiting for my panels to start, I didn't play on my 3DS like in past years. Most of the days I didn't even bring it. Instead, I was reading the Vampire Academy novels. I don't know why, but I feel embarrassed admitting this. Anyway, moving on...

Ask the Embalmer -- 2:30 PM
Although we never got to ask the embalmer any questions (because we ran out of time), the panel was very interesting and informative. It was really neat to look at Death from an embalmer's perspective. 

The host (AKA the embalmer) started off by going through the history of embalming. I don't remember much of it... but I do remember it being interesting. One thing I remember is that the term "living room" used to be called a "parlour". However, after "parlour" started being associated with "funeral parlour", "parlour" was changed to "living room". 

After the history lesson, the host went right into the process of embalming -- explaining exactly what he did. He also talked about how bodies would be handled slightly differently depending on the body's state before death (did the body die of any illnesses that could affect the skin colour? Did the body die naturally or via an accident?) and after death (has the body been autopsied?).

He also mentioned a couple horrific embalming situations if the embalmer wasn't careful. One example was pumping fluid into the head at the wrong pressure could make the eyes pop out.

Another thing he mentioned was placing a lot of focus on the hands and face since those are the parts most funeral attendees touch. 

I really wish he had more time to talk about the embalming process. I wanted to know more, hahaha.

Anime According to AMVs -- 4:00 PM
I had no idea what this panel would be about besides being related to AMVs. The structure went like this: 

1. An AMV would be shown featuring a specific anime.
2. An audience member who has never seen that anime would then volunteer to summarize / describe the anime based off what was shown in the AMV.
3. An audience member who has seen the anime would then volunteer to summarize / describe what the anime is really about.

It was a pretty entertaining experience. Most of the anime series we went through I've never watched (including series like Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Kill La Kill, Attack on Titan, Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya), but I never volunteered to give any summaries. Here's an example of one AMV we watched:

AMV from Spice and Wolf. I've never seen the series.

Summary from somebody who HASN'T watched the series: It's obviously about a zoologist who has been exploring the different sounds of animals, and he still after all these years, has not figured out what does the fox say. So he traps a random hybrid human fox, for his experiment to see what sound she could produce, and wow -- was he floored with her wide vocabulary.

Summary from somebody who HAS watched the series: The series is about a merchant. He's called Spice, because he made a fortune from selling a bunch of pepper. He meets this fox-spirit-lady, who controls the harvest. She makes these really rich, abundant harvests, but everybody hates her because every so often she has to make a poor harvest to replenish the soil. So he kinda takes her on as some kind of fugitive.

For anybody who wants to double-check, here's another summary of Spice and Wolf.


Calling All Ghost Hunters -- 5:15 PM
Well, I was curious about this panel... but in the end, I was largely disappointed in it. The panel host kept referring back to her experiences at the Lizzie Borden House. She did say a couple interesting things but unfortunately I don't remember what they are since all I remember is her talking about the Lizzie Borden House.

The most interesting thing about the panel was when the audience members got a chance to share their ghostly experiences.

Misc. Photos for Friday
If this sign was displayed in previous years, I never saw it. Thankfully, 
I have been asking cosplayers if I could take a picture.


The Playstation area where you could try out Project Morpheus, 
PS4's virtual reality device. I didn't try it out since you had to 
register online somewhere for a spot.


A Playstation wall where you could write whatever. I wanted 
to check this on the last day of the convention but I forgot.


Some statues from Witcher 3.


Saturday
Time Attended: 9:45 AM - 5:30 PM
Not too much happened in the morning for me. I visited one of my friends who was working at one of the booths. Then I was back in the South building, waiting for the next panel, my nose in my book, hahaha. 

I gotta mention that the Saturday morning crowd was much less crowded than in previous years. That was good for me, but it made me wonder where everybody went.

Casual Taxidermy -- 11:45 AM

An article about using mice to decorate the home.

When I saw this in the Fan Expo schedule, I went 'What the heck??'. It was a really neat panel. The host talked briefly about the history of taxidermy and then about her focus, which was anthropomorphic taxidermy (note: there are squeamish pics in that link!). Basically, anthropomorphic taxidermy is the stuffing of a dead creature that then gets posed unnaturally and can be placed in an unnatural environment. Pretty much, being creative. 

I have a lot of respect for the host since she gets her specimen (that are already dead) from a zoologist, and she sends the insides back (for feeding) so nothing is wasted. 

One funny historical thing the host shared was the "doofy lion" story. I don't remember the exact details, but this king was given a lion as a gift. The king loved the lion so much that when the lion died, the king wanted him stuffed. So the king send the skin and bones to a taxidermist. Only problem was the taxidermist didn't know what a lion looked like, so he used a lion crest as a reference. The lion... didn't turn out so well...

I personally don't know if I'd be able to do taxidermy since it seems to require lots of careful handling (which I suck at sometimes), but the end product seems pretty cool.

Example of anthropomorphic taxidermy, created by the host.


Side-view of the "doofy lion". It looks okay here, but...


Front-view of the "doofy lion". Awwww, hahaha.... >.> 
It makes me feel a bit sorry for that king...


Casual Taxidermy Live Demonstration -- 2:00 PM
When the Casual Taxidermy host mentioned doing a live demonstration later in the day, I had to check it out. I was very curious about the process in action -- and I was wondering if I'd be able to take it, since, well, taxidermy involves skinning the animal... i.e. removing the skin from the flesh...

To sum things up, my mouth was kinda hanging open during the whole skinning process, and my brain completely stopped functioning... I think that's a sign that doing casual taxidermy myself would not be a good idea, hahahaha.

End product of the live demonstration. 
Sorry if this makes you squeamish!

Horror Debate: Should Zombies Have Rights? -- 3:45 PM

Panelists. The three on the left were pro zombie rights.

So this was sort of an interesting debate. There were two moderators on the floor while three panelists were pro zombie rights, and the other two were against zombie rights. Sometimes the moderators would bring up issues and sometimes the audience would bring up issues / questions. 

My couple beefs / issues with this whole debate was that the side for pro zombie rights were mainly representing  George Romero zombies, and not the other types of zombies. My other beef / issue was that on the side of against zombie rights, one was representing the Umbrella corporation. I guess to me, one side representing George Romero zombies while another side representing the Umbrella corporation just seems too specific for a real open debate to come through.

One very interesting issue brought up was along the lines of: "Since you (zombies) are fighting for your rights to be treated as a human being, would that mean your debts would carry over as well (such as paying a mortgage, loans, etc.)?" Hmmm! What do you think? :)

Misc. Photos for Saturday
Some bike thing from Star Wars. You could donate 
$5 to get a picture taken while "riding" it.


Something else from Star Wars.


Lego Avengers!


This is the issue that needs to get fixed. When going from the 
South building to the North building, there is this really awful bottleneck / traffic. 
The person in front is actually stopping the crowd, for whatever reasons.


Sunday
Time Attended: 9:45 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday was more or less a sitting day as I sat throughout most of it, just waiting for panels to start.
  
Today I dressed up a little: I wore fake glasses. I don't normally wear glasses so that was a new experience for me. It was... interesting.

Me with my fake glasses. I am only showing
this because the picture is so fuzzy.

One kinda funny thing is that I never intended to go to the Walking Dead panel. I was simply checking out the room for Gillian Anderson's Q&A session. As soon as I got down there, though, the volunteers were saying "This way to the Walking Dead panel". I then thought, 'Why not?' 

Celebrity Panel: Cast of the Walking Dead -- 11:00 AM

Chandler Riggs, Norman Reedus, Lennie James.

In short, this was a funny Q&A session. Sometimes the host would bring up topics and questions, but most of the time the audience members asked questions. One unfortunate thing was many of the answers to questions like, "What were your favourite moments?" or "What scenes would you say brought the most character development to your character?", were responses referring to the upcoming season (Season 6). They didn't spoil anything, but they would say along the lines of "It's coming up!"

A couple neat things I learned about each cast member ('cuz I knew nothing about them before this session):

Chandler Riggs: He plays video games! One of the games he plays is Destiny.

Norman Reedus: He claims he doesn't eat much. He also seems to like using his star power for charity-like things, which I think is cool. 

Lennie James: He did some voice-acting for Destiny. When the host asked him about that, it was a very amusing response. 

I was really glad that many of the questions didn't spoil Season 5 (since I haven't watched it).

And now, one amusing paraphrased conversation bit:

Host: Tell us about Fear The Walking Dead, and how canon it is to The Walking Dead series.

Reedus: What does "canon" mean?

Host: *explains what canon means*

Reedus: I'm learning new terminology everyday at the convention. Just yesterday I learned what "fap" means.


Celebrity Q&A with Gillian Anderson -- 2:00 PM

Gillian Anderson!

I enjoyed the Q&A session with her last time at Fan Expo, and this one was no different. I sensed more confidence in her responses this time around, but still with a lot of honesty and modesty, which I like. Whenever anybody asked her about how she felt about being Scully -- a strong female character, Gillian would clarify that Scully was not her creation and that she was fortunate to play the role of a strong female character.

One amusing tidbit:

Question person: Do you think Stella and Scully would make good partners?

Scully: Well, I think... you know, somebody asked me that at another Comic Con, about whether they would hang out. And I thought that maybe Stella would have a few things to teach Scully about drinking. And, um... partners... as in life partners? Or... as working partners?

Question person: Either one you want.

Scully: They actually might make good life partners. I hadn't thought about that before. I want to see somebody doing an After Dark sketch of Scully (kissing? **can't hear this word properly**) Stella...

You can listen to that tidbit in full here

With 15 minutes remaining, Gillian started an auction for a cap with three signatures, one of the signatures being her own. The money raised would go to charity. 

When the bid reached $500, Gillian said something along the lines of, "Time to add Scully DNA!". Then she took the cap (it was hanging on a coat hangar) and put it on her head. Then she started to put the cap between her armpits, then lightly rubbing it over her body. She even sat on it lightly! I don't know why, but I find those actions really cute. I guess -- I kinda can't imagine many celebrities actually doing that, being so playful like that, so I like it. I think it adds a little something to her character. 

The end bid for the cap was $1,000.

Gillian Anderson auctioning off the hat.

Awesomecore AMVs hosted by Vlad G. Pohnert & Todd Serge -- 4:00 PM
Soo... I kinda regret attending this as my last panel for Fan Expo. I was entertained for the most part... but I also felt like my brain was melting. Basically awesomecore AMVs are AMVs that are so terrible that they're awesome. I guess it just didn't match my kind of humour. Poor me... hahaha.

Misc. Photos for Sunday
Blast-a-Trooper for Charity.


Umm... bad guys from Star Wars, I imagine... 
In case you can't tell, I still haven't fully watched the Star Wars movies... >.>'''.



Overall Thoughts
Fan Expo Canada 2015 was really fun. It's too bad I missed some panels I wanted to check out, but I did enjoy most of what I attended. Next year I really want to attend a Sketch Duel, and another AMV thing. I really want to watch AMVs that blow me away with awe or excitement or... something (that does not melt my brain, hahaha)! For cosplay this year, I still saw a lot of Attack on Titan characters. Also this time I think there were a lot more Harley Quinns. And of course, I saw a lot of variety, which I enjoyed. There were some cosplay I never really thought would be done, so I was very happy. 

If I have time... I really would like to try cosplaying again myself. There are sooo many characters I wanna do, lol.


 The trek out of the convention (look at the bottleneck at the back! Lol).


Photos of Cosplayers
As mentioned earlier, here are some photos of cosplayers:

Sailor Mercury from Sailor Moon


Dark versions of Sailor Mercury and Sailor Moon from Sailor Moon? I'm not sure 
if dark versions actually exist in the series, so I thought it was 
an interesting take on the characters.


Sailor Mercury and Sailor Mars from Sailor Moon.


Rosalina from Super Mario Galaxy / Super Smash Bros.Wii U / 3DS.


Pit from Kid Icarus / Super Smash Bros. series.


NPC from Pokemon.


Scyther from Pokemon.


Harley Quinn and... another version of her? Not really sure 
who the character in purple is.


Black Widow from Avengers.


Poison Ivy and The Riddler.


Somebody (little help?)... and Wolverine from X-Men.


Jubilee from X-Men. 


Azula, Katara, Toph, and... don't remember... from Avatar: The Last Airbender.


Helena from Orphan Black. Woot! I was wondering 
if I would see any Orphan Black cosplay.


Cosima and Felix from Orphan Black.


Cloud and Aerith from Final Fantasy VII.


Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy.


Junko from Danganronpa.


Characters from Star Wars?


Ice King from Adventure Time and Hermione from Harry Potter.


Momoko from Wedding Peach. I was "chasing" after her from the 
South Building to the North Building, 'cuz I really wanted to take a picture. 
She was like 10 people in front of me, and the crowd was pretty tight.


A Ghostbuster.


A character from Dark Souls.


I have no idea what this is. I just thought the armor was neat.


Sun Wukong / Monkey King. I'm not sure if this is an original version 
or if it's referenced off some existing material.


Hatsune Miku in her "Love is War" outfit. I would like to 
cosplay as that particular outfit one day, haha.


She-Ra!


A Titan in a maid costume (from Attack on Titan).


San from Mononoke Hime.


Sauron from Lord of the Rings.


Pyramid Head from Silent Hill 2.


Furiosa and Nux from Mad Max: Fury Road.


Yukari from Persona 3. 
She was super-excited when I asked for a picture.


Raidou Kuzunoha from Devil Summoner!
I also had to "chase" him down. At first, I wasn't completely sure. He was about 5 people in front of me on a slightly crowded sidewalk. All I saw was the cape, the hat, and the sword. I was thinking, 'Is he really Raidou? I have to see the front to be sure...'. It took me two long blocks to catch up to him and when I finally got a chance to look at his front, the cape was covering it! Lol. So I asked him straight if he was from Devil Summoner. When he said "yes", I got excited and asked to take a picture. When he took out the Jack Frost plushie, I squeed "I have that plushie, too!". Lol, didn't mean to go off on a story here. I think Devil Summoner cosplay is very rare these days, and, well... I've always thought Raidou Kuzunoha was a hot character, hahaha. <3


Me (with my face greyed out) and Baymax!!! I was so shy taking his arm, 
even though I only felt cardboard underneath the fabric.


Side-view of Baymax. I wanna give him a hug!

video
A short clip of Baymax walking. Oh my -- sooo adorable!! 
I think the weird high-pitched sounds were me squealing. Sorry about that x.x''



Cosplay I wanted to take a pic of, but missed my chance
-Fix-it Felix from Wreck-it Ralph 
-The character that says "Praise the sun!" from Dark Souls (I was wondering when somebody would cosplay as that, lol)


My Convention Purchases
Well, I stuck to same $800 budget as last year, and it was a good amount. I stayed under which was the most important thing, lol.

So I'm saying this again, but when buying fan stuff, I often have this frame of mind:

1. Does the art style align with my tastes?
2. Does this work express the kind of fandom that expresses me? (like, if I saw a poster of Zuko and Katara holding hands and gently smiling, I might get it, because it expresses how I feel about their relationship -- a sense of deep understanding for each other)
3. Is this a piece of work that will evoke something in me every time I see it?

This year, it was a bit varied on what I bought. I mean, I even delved into the Dealers room and got something (that doesn't happen too often). One sorta surprising thing for me was that I didn't buy any buttons this year.

I guess for what I've bought that I haven't yet watched / experienced the series for, I'll note it like this: (*)

Here is what I bought (if anybody could help me fill in the blanks, it'd be greatly appreciated!):


Professor Layton random mini-figure, Harry Potter tie, 
Jack Frost and Alice figures from Shin Megami Tensei (SMT).
I love Jack Frost and Alice! 


Double ocarina, ocarina box, instructional booklet, 
music booklets for songs from Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy series, Ghibli films.
Hopefully I'll find the time to learn the double ocarina 
(and that I won't need Vol. 1 instructional booklet...!) 


Sailor Moon x somebody from Puella Magi Madoka Magica(*)
Elsa from Frozen; Sailor Saturn from Sailor Moon. 


Kaze Couture artbook; somebody from Puella Magi Madoka Magica(*)
Princess Tutu charm; Kaze-hime artbook.


One of my favourite pages from the Kaze-hime artbook.


One of my favourite pages from the Kaze Couture artbook.


Jake from Adventure time; Artemis from Sailor Moon.


T-shirt and tote bag from Dark Souls.


A sea dragon (original artwork).


Posters from Shilin Huang. 


Shilin Huang's manga Carciphona Vol. 4; necklaces inspired from her manga series.
I haven't yet read her series, but I wanted to make sure 
I had every available volume before starting.


Some business cards.


Some more business cards.


 Business card for Shilin Huang + her booth-mate Zinganza. 


So, to calculate the "damage" to my wallet:
  Miscellaneous gifts (not shown above): $80
  Figures (Jack Frost + Alice from SMT): $35
  Mini-figure (Professor Layton): $6
  Tie (Harry Potter): $15
  Plushies (Jake, Artemis): $20
  Double Ocarina + ocarina box & music booklets: $180
  Posters (Sailor Moon x Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Elsa, Sailor Saturn): $30
  Poster (Puella Magi Madoka Magica): $10
  Poster (original -- sea dragon): $20
  Posters (by Shilin Huang): $30 
  Artbook (Kaze-hime, Kaze Couture): $50
  Charm (Princess Tutu): $10
  T-shirt & tote bag (Dark Souls): $30
  Manga & necklaces (by Shilin Huang): $40


Total "Damage" This Year: $556.00

Total "Damage" Last Year: $673.00




Well, thanks for reading (if you made it this far)! If you have any questions about anything I experienced at Fan Expo Canada, or just comments and questions on anything, feel free to comment!

This week's Sunday blog will either be on something brief and easy (like about my current vacation) or I will skip it, since this blog is so long. It will depend on how I feel that Sunday.


Thank you again and have a great rest of the week! :)