Monthly Archives:May 2011

Rick'rolling the Stage

30 May , 2011,
Crimson
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L2P - Logo and Stuff. XD

So I survived all three days of License 2 Play. It was quite a cool con overall, and the experience was kinda awesome. Big props to the creative minds at Sphere and Plum Project for putting everything together.

English version of the Disgaea WS deck, and one of the TPBs I picked up on the cheap.

I thoroughly enjoyed the CosGames (though I could be biased), meeting new cosplay folk, campaigning for votes, and generally terrorizing the public.

I managed to sneak in a couple hours just browsing and sampling the selection of convention swag, and I managed to net me an elusive Weiss Schwartz Disgaea deck in English.

Also picked up a couple trade paperbacks, and one or two trinkets. I was totally hunting for a murloc plush, but I didn’t even spot a single one.

The CosGame finals was pretty neat. The East side put up a decent showing too, with Reifes doing some awesome shuffling in his Rangurotora suit, Elmgrandmaster with his misty Zabuza smoke machine of doom, and lots of funky weapon wielding all round.

Woohoo~! Crimson's the CosGames West Champion! XD

Shyam in his Halo Rookie costume, together with Sueanne and Tim from Movie Mania rocked the stage with flashing lights and an action sequence, which netted them two tix to Korea and Japan.

Me? Well, I rick’rolled everyone like the thoroughly evil warlock I was, clinching the West Champion title in the process.

In a sense, I’ve come kinda full circle as a cosplayer. I first debuted the Warlock costume at License 2 Play last year, and this time, I’m actually retiring it with a bang.

Of course, I’m not done yet. XD There’s still Cosfest and my Netherblade Rogue to do, and the Death Knight Darkruned Plate for License 2 Play next year.

It’s also more than likely that I’ll be shooting an MV in my Corruptor’s Raiment pretty soon, so watch out for it. XD

Here’s the vid of my CosGames cosplay performance.

Until next con, cheerio!

It's Playtime!

27 May , 2011,
Crimson
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I headed down to Suntec City earlier today for¬†License 2 Play, the game con organized by SPH’s Sphere Communications.

Touted as the biggest game con this side of Singapore, License 2 Play featured a variety of stalls selling the quintessential games and game systems, demo booths, vendors for toys and comic books, cosplay props, and accessories of every stripe, making the con a veritable smorgasbord for anyone geek enough, and gamer enough to partake.

The biggest feature, of course, was License 2 Play Cosgames, an East vs. West game related cosplay competition drawing on both the best of US and European games, as well as games from the Japanese and Korean giants. Naturally, this warlock was the first to sign up for the West camp. After all, how could I pass up an opportunity to demonstrate the power of the Horde? But more than that, be prepared to see other funky characters like the Creeper from Minecraft and Mario from Super Mario Bros. at the event too. XD

Speaking of which, here’s my entry for CosGames. XD If you’d like to vote for me tomorrow, please check out the next photo. XD

Here's my entry for CosGames! XD Remember to vote for me! XD

Just SMS W1 (capital W, numeric 1) to 83379763 (65-83379763 if you’re texting from overseas) from between 12 noon to 6 pm tomorrow (28th May) Singapore time. That’s 9 pm (27th May) PDT to 3 am (28th May) PDT, and 5 am to 11 am (28th May) GMT if you’re one of my overseas readers and supporters. XD

And here's the number to dial. Voting opens from 12 noon to 6 pm tomorrow (Saturday, 28th May). Best of all, SMSing is free! XD

Here’s a couple pics from my walkaround today.

Nintendo 3DS at L2P. XD

Creeper Spotted! ūüėģ

Gaming Booths too. XD

G&B, always a staple for comic lovers.

And well, accessories for the discerning weeaboo. XD

Also, don’t forget to pick up a Quest Card at L2P. It entitles you to free swag, demo products, and also a chance to win a Lenovo laptop thingie in a lucky draw once you turn it in. XD

Your Daily Quest at L2P

Dylan Dog – A Doggone Tale

26 May , 2011,
Crimson
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Dylan Dog - Poster Art

Dylan Dog‘s something of an underdog in comic book circles, never having quite achieved the same measure of popularity in the U.S. as it did in Italy. And that was kinda why I was surprised when I discovered that this obscure Dark Horse title had actually managed to make it to the big screen, and that it was showing in most cinemas here.

Simply put, Dylan Dog’s a title that mashes up old school noir with vampires, werewolves and a healthy dose of mystery. The titular character is a private eye that straddles the world of the living and the world of the dead, and every chapter or so, he succeeds in solving a new supernatural crime. It’s all very pulpy, rife with dubious femme fatales, the alleyway confrontations, and the eponymous rooftop encounters.

Don’t get me wrong. The genre conventions are all there (well, mostly there), but other than Dylan and his¬†idiosyncrasies, almost everything else deviates from the comics.

Set in New Orleans, Dylan’s big screen outing thrusts him into the center of a murder investigation, when an antique dealer gets murdered by something tall, dark and furry. Things get personal when Dylan’s sidekick Marcus gets killed, and this propels him out of his funk, and into some funky detective work.

Along the way, Marcus comes back to life (as a zombie), Dylan gets romantically entangled with his client (what else is new), and tussles with both the vampires and the werewolves whilst hunting down the murderer and an ancient relic called the Heart of Vlad.

It’s a pretty standard B-grade story as far as things go. There are no funky twists, no unpredictable plot devices, and the humor (there’s a bit of it) kinda misses the punchline.

Brandon Routh made for a horrible Dylan Dog. While he could pull off the look, his voice just ruined the entire experience for me. He didn’t have the neurotic intensity I’d come to expect of the character, and overall, like his other performances (in both Superman Returns and most recently, Scott Pilgrim), came across as lackluster.

Sam Huntington, who played Marcus, was by comparison the better actor. He was the right sort of whiny, the right sort of smarmy, and the right sort of annoying. Few can do zombies with panache, and well, Sam is it.

The camera angles and effects weren’t entirely bad, and director Kevin Munroe (who also did the Ninja Turtles movie in 2007) demonstrated a high degree of aesthetic competence. The feel of the movie was sufficiently gritty, and the action sufficiently creative to not be a total bore. It was evident though, from the creature effects, and some of the special effects, that this wasn’t a big budget movie (as if all the B-listers on cast weren’t indication enough).

All told, this movie makes for a doggone tale.

It’s just another entry in a long list of Hollywood B-movies about supernatural dicks and their adventures in undeadland. And while it doesn’t do the comic book it’s based off any justice (just read the comics, and you’ll know what i mean), it’s watchable, in the same way that movies like Big Trouble in Little China and Attack of the Killer Tomatoes are watchable.

It makes for an excellent time waster.

License 2 Play!

May , 2011,
Crimson
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L2P - Logo

License 2 Play (L2P), organized by SPH’s events wing Sphere Communications is back, and this time, there’s more than just a smidge of games and wanton consumer electronics.

L2P claims to be injecting the “Play” component back into this con with the introduction of CosGames, an East vs. West game related cosplay competition. I’ll be turning up at the event naturally (since it’s a gaming con, and I’m hardcore when it comes to gaming), making my final appearance in my Warlock Tier 5 costume.

So if you’re interested in getting some photos before I retire the outfit for good, you can catch me between 2 pm to 6 pm on Friday (27th May), 12 pm to 8 pm on Saturday (28th May) and from 12 pm on Sunday (29th May).

I’ll be very, very visible (I’ve got plans to ensure that’s the case) so look out for me, especially on Saturday when I’ll be pulling a full shift canvassing for votes from con-goers! XD

So till tomorrow, cheerio! XD

The Gantz Movie Poster Giveaway

23 May , 2011,
Crimson
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The Neo Tokyo Project’s Gantz Movie Poster Giveaway!

If you haven’t already noticed yet, I’ve got two theatrical sized Gantz movie posters to give away, and you can be one of two lucky owners of this sweet piece of swag. All you have to do is:

Step 1: Share a link to The Neo Tokyo Project on your Facebook or Blog page, and follow me on Facebook or on Twitter.

Step 2: Post a comment here, with a trackback to your Facebook post. You could also submit a screenie if you prefer.

Step 3: Profit.

The deadline for this contest is 30th May, and two lucky winners will get to walk away with a poster each. How cool is that?

This Pirate Will Never Get Old!

21 May , 2011,
Crimson
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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides - Poster Art

With Hollywood franchises, especially something with a decade long shelf life like¬†Pirates of the Caribbean, you’d expect its fourth installment to be all at sea.¬†After all, ¬†there’s only so much pirate-y dialogue, swashbuckling, and rum chugging you can stomach before it’s milked dry and the gags get old.

And that is why On Stranger Tides is strangely refreshing. With a new director (Rob Marshall, who did Chicago and Memoirs of A Geisha) at the helm, it baulks doing more of the same, injecting a fair dose of plot, some great character development, and *gasp* enough adventure into this tired ship’s sails to keep it seaworthy.

Picking up where Pirates 3: At World’s End left off, 4 opens in London, with the series’ iconic pirate Cap’n Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp, of course) traipsing through courtrooms, swinging from chandeliers, staring down royalty (well, King George), and generally careening from disaster to disaster before he gets shanghaied into joining the crew of Blackbeard’s ship, and suborned into leading the notorious pirate to the fabled Fountain of Youth.

Of course, it’s not much of an adventure if there’s nobody else after the macguffin right? That’s why we’ve got the Spanish armada, and Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush, powdered wig and all) after it too, resulting in more than a few hairy moments and roguish antics.

Depp’s performance this time is no less animated than in his previous forays. Cap’n Jack is still a scoundrel through and through, though there’s also a certain maturity, and a fair bit of tension with the introduction of love interest Angelica (played by Penelope Cruz). There’s a bit of sauciness going on between the two of them, and while things don’t ever get racy (thanks to this being a Disney production), naughty things are implied, making it the cheekiest Pirates yet.

Ian McShane, who played the black hearted Blackbeard, made for an intense villain, while¬†√Ästrid Berg√®s-Frisbey wasn’t half bad as a mermaid with some actual lines.

The movie had its flaws, but these came in the way of choreography and the overall presentation. The swashbuckling scenes were decent, but not stellar (and in fact, it was the chase at the very beginning that only really appealed to me), and the melee scenes, whether between Blackbeard’s crew and the mermaids, or the three corner fight at the climax, were cluttered and chaotic. Rob Marshall demonstrated better control with scenes involving fewer actors though, and his framing of tight close ups proved impressive.

The score was, as usual, impressive. Hans Zimmer had a hand in it, of course, so hey, whaddya expect? The script, adapted from a novel with the same title, proved fairly pedestrian, but then again, Pirates isn’t all about script. It’s about spectacle, and that’s what it manages to deliver.

Overall, Pirates 4 proved a mostly entertaining film. ¬†It tickled my geek sensibilities, and if you’ve sat through all three Pirates movies and didn’t mind them, you’ll probably enjoy this one.

Also, if you’re starved for fantasy or period fare till Your Highness comes out next week, Pirates 4 makes for something to tide you over.

Warlock Pimpin'

19 May , 2011,
Crimson
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Here’s a little shoutout for you World of Warcraft addicts out there.

I’ll be joining License2Play’s Cosgames, a major cosplay competition featuring computer game characters next weekend, so if you’d like to get your photos taken with Singapore’s ONLY warlock (and also pick up some limited edition coscards), please drop on by.

It’d also be great if you folks could help me out by voting for me on Facebook. You can do so by following these¬†two easy steps:

First off, go to http://on.fb.me/j6f8vM and LIKE the Cosgames page.

Next, go to http://on.fb.me/k5Vrnz and LIKE my Warlock costume photo. XD

There could be some Facebook hiccups, so you might need to refresh your page a couple times before you can like the picture.

Also, here’s a workaround¬†for if you encounter the Like problem that seems to be so commonplace on Facebook these days. Like the L2P CosGames fanpage. Then go to my Facebook Wall, and like the photo through my Wall interface, or Like the photo on CosGames fanpage Wall (see enclosed image).

Thanks a bunch! XD

L2P, or How to vote for your favorite Warlock. XD

Cosplay Performances: Dazzling the Stage!

16 May , 2011,
Crimson
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So you’ve got a great costume, you’ve got your poses down pat, and you can even remember a pet phrases or two. You’d think that’s enough for you to strut your stuff on stage, and to dazzle the audience with a stellar¬†cosplay performance right?

The reality is, whether you’re just starting out in the competition circuit, or a regular face at cosplay events, performances aren’t just about looking good, preening, and posing for the cameras. Cosplayers are constantly upping the ante by playing up the WOW factor, creating spectacle through the use of elaborate props and complex technology, or hell, just by relying on good old fashioned showmanship.

While epic props and expensive theatrical effects might be out of reach for most of us, there’s one thing that’s invariably free, and that’s you, the star of the show. In this new, bi-monthly column, I’ll be discussing various ways we can level up our performances through the use of basic acting techniques and tools.

And in our inaugural Cosplay Performances column, we’ll be talking about performance preparation and planning.

Preparing for a Cosplay Performance in 4 Easy Steps

1. Understand The Event

Before you sign up for any cosplay contest, it’s important to figure out if your favorite outfit’s right for the event, and whether it’s going to win big props from the audience. This is especially pertinent if audience appeal is a significant aspect that impacts your final score.

You wouldn’t want to dress up as a character from some obscure anime when you’re doing something at E3, for example, and hamming it up in front of a bunch of videogame nerds.

2. Suss out the Judging Criteria

The quality of your cosplay performance is a defining factor for any competition, but some competitions place greater emphasis on other components, such as online votes through Facebook, Audience polls, and the like.

The World Cosplay Summit, for example, devotes 100 points (fully a third) of its criteria to the performance (it’s further broken down into additional criterion), while License 2 Play’s Cosgames attributes only 20% to the performance (with an additional 20% for character portrayal).

Knowing just how much of your final tally is attributed to the performance component can help you prioritize the amount of effort you should put into executing it. It also helps to find out the expected duration of your performance, as this will impact your script.

3. Wise Up to Your Competition

Every cosplayer brings something unique to the stage. The question is what? It’s important to know who you’re up against, which outfits they’re wearing, and what they’re capable of. Know what they can do, and what you can do different, or better.

Identify your own strengths in relation to the competition, and play it up during your performance. If you’re agile and acrobatic, and can actually handle a sword, pick a character from an action anime and stage a sword fight.¬†If you’re a Vocaloid who can actually croon a tune without going off-key, please do so.

Or hey, if you’ve got a talent for carving a live-sized animal sculpture outta ice ¬†in under a minute, why the hell not?

4. Know the Set

Even if you’ve got a great cosplay sequence planned, replete with flashing strobe lights, smoke effects, and fantasy monsters projected onto a backdrop, you’ll never know if the event organizers can deliver. Or the stage could be simply too small, and swinging your seven meter long buster sword around would just play hell with the backdrop.

It’s always a good idea to call ahead to find out the size of the stage and the facilities available, or hell, just do a bit of research. Typically though, you should have no troubles getting access to a sound system (and sometimes a video screen), so plan your performance with that in mind.

Once you’ve got these four items taken care of, you should be well on your way towards putting on a kickass cosplay performance.

In our next installment, we’ll talk about scripting, and how telling a good story endears you to the audience.

Cheerio!

Mary Sue! I choose you!

14 May , 2011,
Crimson
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Drizzt Do'urden - Gary Stu much?

It’s been awhile since I wrote an actual article focused on storytelling and narration, but after being exposed to so much bad fanfiction (and horrible writing in general, including the work of a local comic artist) in the past couple months, I thought it prudent to think long and hard about a new piece.

And this one’s dedicated to Mary Sue.

Who, you might ask, is this individual? She’s no less than the quintessential girl of destiny (her male counterpart’s called Gary Stu), and the macro cosmos practically revolves around her (or her becoming a part of the macro cosmos, or her being chosen by something beyond the macro cosmos, or something to that effect).

She’s the character that can do no wrong, who gets all the guys (and beds the hunkiest guys), who can snuff out vampires, zombies, aliens, robots, dinosaurs and what have you with the flick of a finger, and puts the villains to shame with her nobility and charisma and sheer awesome (it’s likely she beds the villain too, if he’s male and hunky).

Simply put, Mary Sue is the bane of good writing – a collection of hackneyed, overrated character tropes and plot devices thrown together into someone (or something) that’s either blonde, blue eyed and busty, waif-like, gothic and tattooed, or short, moe and presumably deadly.

But what’s wrong with hackeyed tropes and plot devices, you might ask? Afterall, anime, manga and videogames is rife with generic heroes of the spiky haired, sword wielding variety and effeminate villains with snowy locks to die for.

The problem, at least locally, arises from one simple fact – that Singaporean comic and fiction writers are imitators and not innovators, and that rather than focusing on developing characters that are unique to the setting, they tend to imagine that all they need to do is to pull a genre mash-ups, toss in the odd detail, and somehow, they’ve got a winner.

In any traditional story, however, the hero is more than the sum of his parts. (In the case of Mary Sue, however many other non-Human parts she might be too).

It’s irksome to see a character show lackluster characterization, excel at every single thing the plot tosses her way, save the world (usually a few times), become Master of the Past and Present, and more often than not, a thinly veiled attempt by the author to live judiciously through his character (it’s called author insertion, folks).

So how might you avoid becoming the creator of something so manifestly terrifying? Well, for one, be daring, and above all, be idiosyncratic.

There are plenty of trope-worthy heroes out there with tragic pasts, heterochromatic eyes, ridiculously gravity defying hair, some funky talent that they suddenly become aware of, a cute pet/mascot that’s also probably the LORD OF DARKNESS, and to take the cake, memory loss. You don’t need to contribute to this already large pool.

That is not to say that you can’t use tropes in your writing. In fact, tropes help mainstream audiences identify with a character, and encourage them to draw comparisons with material they might already be familiar with. Used in moderation, and in new and unusual combinations, it can make for a truly memorable creation. Used in excess, however, you tend to sink into Sue territory.

If you’re already starting to see the signs, and you think that you might be culpable of literary homicide, fret not.

You can always run your character through the Universal Mary-Sue Litmus Test for a quick diagnosis.

Until next time, cheerio!

Gantz: Dead On Arrival

12 May , 2011,
Crimson
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Gants - Poster Art

It’s hard to dislike Shinsuke Sato’s work. He’s a great director, with a unique perspective to film making. Hell, he was responsible for The Princess Blade, one of my favorite Japanese movies of all time.

But this time, with Sato’s big budget adaptation of Hiroya Oku’s morbid manga Gantz, I was frankly quite disappointed.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The film¬†¬†stands up to scrutiny as a decent (well, more than decent) sci-fi flick, but beyond style, ¬†presentation and an eye candy cast (especially when they’re all clad in form fitting ¬†spandex), it’s a film that has little to offer to fans of the original story.

Like the manga (and anime), Kei Kurono (Kazunari Ninomiya) and Masato Kato (Ken’ichi Matsuyama) are killed in a subway accident after rescuing a hobo from the tracks. They’re transported into a featureless apartment, where they’re co-opted into hunting aliens by Gantz, a mysterious black sphere that needs a built-in spell checker badly, and sent out on a variety of missions, each more dangerous than the last.

But that’s where the resemblance ends.¬†Admittedly, it’s tough condensing the story of the initial few volumes (and the first 18 episodes of the anime) into 2 hours, but this attempt, it seemed, was rather sloppy. There was simply not enough time for characterization, so you ended up with a story that was as flat, and as much of a facsimile as the poor people picked up by Gantz were.

And talking about characterization, Kurono, ostensibly the manga’s biggest asshole, comes across as bratty and whiny, while Kato’s just a QQ emo kid with baggage. Kishimoto, on the other hand, isn’t so much a love interest as a third wheel. With the way the two male leads keep staring at each other, it’s obvious that there’s more bromance than romance going on.

At least the aliens, the suits, and the weapons were mostly true to form. That, coupled with the special effects (which were really impressive), strong action choreography, and good camera work, were the only things that kept the film going.

All in all, Gantz isn’t all that bad if you haven’t read the manga or watched the anime before. It’s respectable, and it ups the ante considerably for Japanese film makers, especially considering the flagging standards of its past few manga to movie releases. Without prejudices, it would have been worth an easy 3 out of 5.

But if you’re a fan, and were expecting something true to canon, then you’re out of luck. There’s only one thing you can expect out of Gantz – it’s a film that’s pretty much dead on arrival.

And that, of course, is the way the cookie crumbles. ūüėõ