By Saturday, Anime Expo had sold out Los Angeles Convention Center, bringing in about 85,000 people. The tightly packed quarters, long lines and July heat didn't deter cosplayers: they made it through the holiday weekend in armor, super high heels, body paint and oversized wigs. They stood for long stretches of time as attendees rushed towards them with camera flashes blazing. Honestly, I don't know how cosplayers hang in there for four days.
With so many people at AX, the cosplayers were a diverse lot. Many chose to represent recent anime series like Kill la Kill and Attack on Titan. Some of the old hits faded away this year, though; I can't remember seeing anyone wearing a Bleach costume and those used to be ubiquitous at anime events. Sailor Moon had a big resurgence, thanks in part to Sailor Moon Crystal, which premiered this weekend. Video games like League of Legends and Assassin's Creed were popular choices. Alternate versions of established characters from anime, U.S. comics and video games were popular too. Here's a rundown of the 20 coolest cosplays we saw at the convention this year.
Once again, the Los Angeles Convention Center in the heart of downtown LA was turned into a cornucopia of mass Japanese Otaku nerdery, and much like last year, I was around to see and hear it all.
Rather than rehash last year's theme, I thought I'd share a little bit more of the specifics that make this particular different than your Comic-Cons and other general-interest conventions. Anime Expo has its own specific vibe; part trade-show for the Anime industry, part Japanese pop-culture convention, Anime Expo is a very much like a niche version of San Diego Comic-Con, except it's actually possible to attend it without either a) spending a million dollars a year in advance, or b) representing some million-dollar movie franchise.
So, let's begin! Here's a look at some of the best, worst and weirdest moments from Anime Expo 2014!More >>
Although the primary purpose of my trip to England was to see family, my wife and I had a special incentive too - as a birthday present, my cousin managed to procure us tickets to the UK Warner Bros. Studio Tour in Watford, just outside of London. Now, unlike studio tours here in Hollywood, this was a show-and-tell with exactly one topic: Harry Potter. But on that one topic, it had every damn thing you can imagine short of a personal greeting from Alan Rickman. The studio isn't allowed to have anything that be considered a "ride" - that would infringe on Universal Studios' exclusive international rights to same - but it does have as many props, costumes, miniatures, wigs, effects and other doodads as could presumably be secured, and it presents them in a way that puts most collections of far more acclaimed artworks to shame.
You can probably picture some of what's there already. But I'm here to show you the best things you might not have expected...More >>
As a child of the '80s, my television experience was fairly limited. Cartoons were limited to afternoons and Saturday mornings, a VHS tape could cost hundreds of dollars, and until we finally got cable, we had five rather than five hundred channels. Of those five channels, one of them was MPT, our local PBS station. I generally avoided MPT until discovering in the early '90s that they broadcast Doctor Who, preferring instead to spend my afternoon television time with shows like Robotech, Starcom and Transformers. Of course, when my mother decided to return to her career after years of being a housewife and full time Mom, she found us the one neighborhood babysitter who abhorred violence and had banned anything even remotely violent from her home. Video games, toy guns, even Go-Bots were objects non-grata in their home, and in those afternoons spent at their house I discovered educational programming.More >>
If you've never seen Highlander, the TV series inspired by the movie, you should. Even if you spent the bulk of the 1990s watching first-run episodes and repeats on cable, you should watch it again. It's addictive. Queen's theme song, "Princes of the Universe," will get stuck in your head in such bad way that you might start fist-pumping in a quiet room. You may also feel compelled to take up fencing. Highlander has the power to do that.
While Highlander, the show, is derived from Highlander, the movie starring Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery, they aren't really the same thing. The concept is the same. There are Immortals who battle each other. When one Immortal beheads another, a Quickening takes place. That's a lightning bolt/fireworks show of power that overcomes the battle's winner. There's also the understanding that, ultimately, "there can be only one" of the Immortals remaining. The show, though, exists in its own world. You're following a different character, Duncan MacCleod (Adrian Paul), on a different path with a different result. You might as well think of them as two separate entities with a shared title.
There are six seasons and over 100 episodes of Highlander to watch, but if time is limited, here are a few selections to get you started.More >>
The Saturn Awards is the coolest awards show in Hollywood. In the past, A-listers as big as Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams, Sam Raimi, Zack Snyder and Guillermo del Toro have hung out casually with press so we could ask them any questions we wanted. Why are the top filmmakers in Hollywood this loose for one night and one night only? It's because the Saturn Awards are the one place where famous and successful nerds can feel safe.
Transformers: Age of Extinction is exactly what I expected.
That's always the counter-argument to criticism about these kinds of movies, isn't it? "Well, what did you expect it to be?" In the case of Transformers: Age of Extinction, I expected it to be exactly what it is. Nothing more, nothing less.
Well, maybe a little more; I'm an eternal optimist, always hoping that maybe there'll be some positive tweaks to his formula, but really, there's no need for Michael Bay to change a damn thing when his methods make so many kazillions of dollars. For better or worse (depending, among other things, on whether you're a stockholder of Hasbro and/or Paramount), Michael Bay is as close to an auteur as is working within the blockbuster idiom right now, and Transformers: Age of Extinction is more of the same from him.
|She's got the touch! She's got the power!|
You're probably wondering just how much worse. Well, it could have been like Kiss Players.
Kiss Players is a Japanese franchise in Takara Tomy's Transformers universe that came out in 2006. It's not exactly canon to the stateside continuities, but they use the same characters. The project was spearheaded by a man named Yuki Ohshima, who was also the illustrator and writer for the Kiss Players manga. It was also a radio play and a toy line that featured figurines bundled with Transformers from the Alternators series.
It gets very NSFW at times...More >>
For some reason, 1960's sci-fi show The Time Tunnel doesn't seem to have the nerd appreciation of other shows from the era, and that continues today. I never saw re-runs of it myself growing up or heard people talk about it, but I vaguely knew about it, mostly from a gag in the second Austin Powers movie, and that intrigued me. I mean, at a time when the AV Club can pump out thousands of words on the 60's British Avengers show, how is it that one of the earliest American TV programs to regularly deal with time travel is so overlooked?
Well, I looked, and there's a simple reason: The Time Tunnel is not very good. But goshdarnit, there's something about this show that worms its way into you all the same after a while.
Nerds have had a bad track record with criticizing casting in superhero movies. We tend to jump to judgment if the choice of actor isn't exactly what we expected. We got mad about Mark Ruffalo being the Hulk instead of Edward Norton, concerned the former wouldn't be able to be as intense, or brood as well as Norton's Banner. We got mad about Michael Keaton, who was at the time mostly known as a comedian in movies like Mr. Mom and Beetlejuice, taking on the Dark Knight. Most notably, we got mad about the-then unimpressive Heath Ledger taking over what was arguably the most interesting comic book role in history. We have been wrong many times before...but still whenever a decision is made that you think might really be a Mr. Freeze-sized mistake, you can't help but mention it. And I really don't understand this Aquaman casting.More >>