May 27, 2008

Anime North Wrap-up

I was not really expecting to have that great of a time at Anime North this year. Now that it’s finished I can say that it exceeded my expectations, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it was that great. While it was good to see some familiar faces, I was pretty much on my own for the entire show and didn’t really hang out with anyone for any significant length of time. I didn’t have a lot of money due to an unrelated matter outside of my control that popped up unexpectedly, so I couldn’t afford to buy very much. Last year I spoke on 4 discussion panels and it was a lot of fun and they were all well attended. I had volunteered to be on panels this year too, but for some reason I was only on 1. Topics like classic anime and Transformers didn’t have a panel at all this year, despite being successful last year. Meanwhile, other topics, which will go nameless, were overexposed. That’s just stupid. I don’t understand the reasoning behind that, and it makes it seem that the people in charge really don’t care.

So, for all those reasons it wasn’t that great. However, the main reason why I go to Anime North is Anime Hell, which was hilarious this year. On Sunday there was also a Super Robot presentation that went through almost every 70’s robot anime. After it ended there was still time left, so it just kept going onto 80’s anime. I sang along with the theme songs and it was a lot of fun. I did manage to scrape up enough money to buy all of Osamu Tezuka’s Phoenix anime, which is great. I also go what must have been the deal of the century. I bought the entire 2004 Tetsujin 28 remake anime, 26 episodes on 6 disks with art box, official, brand new, sealed, licensed by the now bankrupt Geneon and thus out of print, for $10. Yeah, $10. I thought it was some kind of mistake, but that’s how much I paid. Can’t really feel bad about going to a disappointing convention when you walk home with a deal like that.

There was also free live wrestling, and that’s always fun to watch.

So that’s my Anime North experience. Not great, but still OK in the end.


It’s been awhile since I’ve sat down and watched an Anime series from the first episode to the last, and even longer since I’ve blogged about it. I just finished watching Bamboo Blade. It’s a 26 episode series about 5 high school girls and their kendo club. The 5 characters, the instructor, and the other club members all go through their own personal dilemmas and challenges, and they are made into better people by way of the sport of kendo. Kendo is sort of like Japanese fencing. As the characters learn about kendo, the audience does too, so it’s an interesting look into the cultural aspect. All of this, in and of itself, is decently entertaining while typical of the sports anime genre. What really makes this show fun is that the lead character, who is the most skilled yet the most reserved personality on the team, loves anime and is crazy about a tokusatsu super hero show called “Blade Braver“. While the viewer only gets brief glimpses of this show-within-a-show as the main character watches it, it’s clear that there is a history to it and there are parallels between the heroes fighting their rivals and the actual kendo matches she’s in. The girls even assign themselves colours like a sentai team!

It’s pretty appropriate that a show about kendo would have references to anime and tokusatsu. Now that I know a little bit about kendo through watching Bamboo Blade, I can see how much influence the sport has had on Japanese pop culture. The visual similarities between kendo practitioners in full gear and masked heroes like Kamen Rider are pretty obvious, whether they were intentional or not. Koji Kabuto yelling “ROCKETO PUNCH!” while piloting Mazinger Z and other anime characters who call out their attacks is much like kendo, where the two fighters yell certain words depending on what part of the opponent’s body they are striking at. Actually, there’s a lot of yelling in kendo in general, which reminds me of a “powering up” sequence in any given fighting anime.

Anyway, Bamboo Blade is a fun and enlightening show. Apparently the original manga is being released into English. The anime adaptation is unlikely to be licensed in North America, but the fansubs are out there. I hope there’s a sequel. I’ll watch it. But I’m probably not going to take up kendo anytime soon, because I don’t think my brittle wrist could handle it!

Of course, what I’d really like if for “Blade Braver” to become a real show, because that would be awesome!