Monthly Archives:February 2012

Cosfest X.2 & Singapore's WCS 2012 Qualifiers

28 Feb , 2012,
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The WCS contestants - Section 8's going to Nagoya!

Cosplayers and Japanese pop-culture fans alike were in for a treat when Cosfest X.2 hit D’Marquee at Downtown East last weekend.

Touted as a follow-up to the success that was Cosfest X, this year’s event saw special guests from Korea that included Internet cosplay celebrity Eki Holic, the Korean ACM (Asia Cosplay Meet) champions, and an exclusive CURE fashion runway that saw some 150 local animanga cosplayers take to the stage for a chance to make it to the catwalk in July’s Cosfest XI.

Day 1 also featured the Singapore Winds Symphony Youth Winds playing songs from popular titles such as Legend of Zelda and Final Fantasy, but it was the World Cosplay Summit qualifiers on Day 2 that proved to be the real highlight of the convention.

The competition witnessed four of Singapore’s very best cosplay duos taking centerstage, to vy for the right to represent Singapore in the international World Cosplay Summit in Nagoya later in the year. The teams re-enacted scenes from popular series Sousei no Aquarion, D.N.Angel, Black Rock Shooter: The Game and Samurai Warriors 3, with team Sousei no Aquarion, comprising Section 8’s Raistlin and Aya winning out with an impressive display of lights and theatrics.

Check out the WCS vids, courtesy of our partners in event coverage – Operation P.Ani.C!

This year, we’ve also had the great pleasure of interviewing some of the WCS contestants, as well as Cosfest organizers Takahan and Stephanie Snowheart, so look out for the videos soon.

Also, don’t forget to check out our Cosfest X.2 Photo Album on Facebook! Our convention spies were hard at work, and while Crimson and Angelus were busy backstage, they’ve managed to get some great snaps of all and sundry!

We’ve got to say kudos to Singapore Cosplay Club for a job well done, and we’re definitely looking forward to XI this July!

Mark Torres Invades! Singapore

23 Feb , 2012,
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Mark Torres's Infestation 2 Launch - Promo Poster

Turtle Power’s hitting Singapore this March, and Invasion! Toys & Collectibles will be playing host to the artist that’s bringing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to life in IDW’s latest comic series – Mark Torres himself.

Mark’s the man who jazzed up IDW’s TMNT and Zombies vs. Robots with his rockin’ art style, and he’ll be at Invasion’s Funan store next month to commemorate the release of his latest work – Infestation 2: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Fans who’ve put in their pre-orders will be happy to know that Mark’s doling out personalized sketches. He’s also packed 20 exclusive Batman vs. Zombies prints, and these come with a one-of-a-kind sketch as well. How’s that for a treat?

We also got wind that Mark’s Turtles have left their “mark” around town, and that the first 10 lucky folks to track down at least one of them will get a prize at the launch.

Simply look out for stickers like the one below, and take a snapshot of yourself with the sticker. Next, upload it to Invasion’s Facebook page to qualify (don’t forget to Like the page, and tag both Invasion! and yourself on the photo first!).

If a photo’s already been uploaded, subsequent uploads will not be taken into account, so if you want something nifty, you’ve got to ‘stake your claim’ quick!

You can also check out Invasion’s Mark Torres event page or email them for more details.

Look out for nifty stickers like this one!

Invasion! Toys & Collectibles presents Mark Torres

Date & Time: 9 Mar (Fri) – 5pm till 9pm and 10 Mar (Sat) – 2pm till 5pm

Venue: Invasion! Toys & Collectibles, Funan DigitaLife Mall, 109 North Bridge Rd, #05-36, Singapore (179097)

Check out Mark Torres’s artwork on DeviantArt here.

Spotlight On: Angelus

14 Feb , 2012,
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Cosplay isn’t just about Japanese anime and manga. Characters from American comic-books, games, movies and novels have been a staple at major conventions since the 80’s, and with the resurgence of the Western wave on this Little Red Dot, the trend’s been gaining ground.

This month, we train the Spotlight On Singaporean cosplayers who’ve braved the Western front, and since we’ve received numerous requests from fans wanting to know The Neo Tokyo Project’s camera-toting, cosplaying part-time warrior better, we’re kicking this series off with an interview with Angelus. 

Our resident geek chick’s gained international acclaim as ‘Asia’s Lady Mechanika’, and her comic-book cosplay has been featured in numerous geeky resources around the globe. She’s also a walking font of nerdy know-how, and she’s unashamed to admit that getting into pop-culture was what turned her life as an underachiever around.

Cosplay has encouraged her to hone her skills in costume creation, stage performance and prop-making, and also inspired her to examine the photography profession with fresh eyes.

What’s her story, and what’s it like being one of a handful of Western genre cosplayers in Singapore? Let’s find out.

Angelus as Lady Mechanika, from Joe Benitez's Lady Mechanika.

Crimson: Western cosplayers in Singapore are a rare breed. How did you get your start? 

Angelus: My first taste of putting on a costume and acting the part was at LARP (Live Action Role-playing), not a convention, but I’ve always been fascinated by cosplay. The cosplay bug really bit seven years ago, when I was invited by Movie Mania to perform at a Star Wars themed event as Princess Leia, and I haven’t looked back since.

Crimson: What do you think sets Western cosplay apart from it’s Eastern counterparts? 

Angelus: I think people harp a little too much on the differences, and forget that they’re essentially two sides of the same coin.

Western cosplay is drawn from comic-books like those published by Marvel and D.C. of course, from computer games like World of Warcraft, and movies like Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, while Eastern cosplay emphasizes manga and anime like Bleach and Naruto. These are all pop-culture products.

I find comic-books appealing because I’m a classically trained artist, and I can appreciate the techniques used by the pencillers, the inkers, the panellists. Western comics also feature strongly defined female protagonists, and I look to them as role-models for me to emulate.

Ultimately, cosplay is reflective of how much passion you feel for a character, right? Why does it matter what country or region it originates from?

Angelus as Psylocke from The X-Men/Marvel vs. Capcom series.

Crimson: How did pop-culture transform your life?

Angelus: I’m dyslexic. It’s a learning disability that makes reading and writing difficult, and that’s why I dropped out of high school. I hated studying because I just couldn’t keep up.

It wasn’t until I watched Star Wars Episode 1 in 1999 that my interest in reading was rekindled. I was fascinated by the Star Wars universe, and I wanted to learn more. In a sense, that was the catalyst. I spent my weekends in comic shops, reading about Coruscant and Naboo and Tattoine, the Jedi and the Sith.

Eventually, my eyes started to rove to the adjoining shelves and the comic-books on display and I discovered a trove of strong, female characters that were an inspiration to me and I resolved to cosplay them.

Crimson: And their traits started to rub off on you? 

Angelus: That’s right. I was drawn to characters that were ambitious, confident, tough – everything I wasn’t, and more often than not, these were characters that possessed few superpowers, or no superpowers. They made their own luck and their way in the world through their own strength, and that really struck a chord.

I realized that being disadvantaged just meant I had to work a lot harder to get what I want.

Crimson: It sure looks like all that hard work paid off. 

Angelus: And it’s all thanks to cosplay. When you don a costume, when you put yourself into the shoes of a character, you just can’t help but feel a little larger-than-life.

For me, it’s like therapy. I’ve learnt to express myself better – certainly better than I ever used to. The activity’s given me voice, and I hope to show aspiring cosplayers and cosplay novices that it can do the same for them.

Crimson: Let’s talk a bit about your cosplay plans. What can our readers expect to see in 2012?

Angelus: For me, 2012 is going to be the “Year of Benitez”. I’ve always admired Joe‘s work, and since debuting Lady Mechanika at STGCC (Singapore Toy, Games and Comic Convention) in 2011, I guess I’ve found a comfortable niche.

I’ll be cosplaying Executive Assistant Iris, The Magdelena, and Witchblade this year, and I’ve also got two World of Warcraft costumes on the back-burner. One’s Valeera Sanguinar from the World of Warcraft comic-books, and the other’s Alexstrasza the Life-Binder.

Alexstrasza’s almost done right now, and I’m just putting on the finishing touches before I schedule a photo shoot. I might do an Eastern character too, if I have the time.

Angelus (left) as X-23 from The X-Men/Marvel vs. Capcom series.

Crimson: An Eastern character? That’s a first. 

Angelus: It’s Dr. Chika Tanaka’s Zodiac form from Madhouse Studios’ Iron Man, so it’s not exactly ‘Eastern’ Eastern. The character’s story is compelling, and her armor includes a combination of hard, soft and organic parts. It’s going to be an exciting project to work on.

Crimson: So what’s your dream cosplay?

Angelus: I’ve always wanted to cosplay my namesake from Top Cow’s The Angelus. When I first saw Stjepan Sejic’s cover, I was blown away, and scanning the pages of The Angelus miniseries only affirmed my interest. She was my kind of character.

It’s an ongoing project, and I’m taking it slow because I want it to be as accurate as possible, down to the last armored scale. The Angelus will be my magnum opus – the final costume I create before I step out of the limelight.

Angelus (right) as Mage (Tier 5: Tirisfal Regalia) from World of Warcraft.

Crimson: Here’s a question for the crafting inclined. What materials do you usually work with?

Angelus: Blue foam. It’s cheap and pliable, and a great alternative to rubber and vinyl sheets. I also work with Jumping clay, resin, cloth and metal.

There’s a misconception that cosplay (especially armor cosplay) is expensive. Sure, it’s high maintenance if you include things like make-up and all, or if you’re big on gimmicks like LEDs, but you can purchase what you need to make a suit of armor for as little as $50 to $60. That’s how much Alexstrasza set me back.

Crimson: Any parting words for our cosplay friends?

Angelus: Cosplay’s a lifestyle. It’s not just about putting on a costume, dressing the part and looking the part.

It’s about living loud, laughing proud and letting the passion that you pour into this hobby suffuse your life and the everyday things you do. Enjoy cosplay, enjoy life, and live it to the fullest. Nobody owes you anything, but you owe yourself at least that much.

And that’s that from our part-time warrior. If you’d like to connect with her on Facebook, here’s a link.

She also maintains her portfolio on DeviantArt, and you can check out her blog about her secret vice – as Singapore’s biggest Gambit fangirl and an unabashed autographs otaku – here.

Spotlight On is a new column featuring cosplayers in the local scene. If you’re a cosplayer and you’re keen to be interviewed, or if you know a cosplayer who might just fit the bill, we’d love to hear from you!

Drop us a note at INFO [AT] NEOTOKYOPROJECT.COM with the header Spotlight On, or leave us a message on our Facebook page and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!

Ani-Buzz: The Prince of Tennis

11 Feb , 2012,
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The (Classic) Prince of Tennis - Title card

We know our readers aren’t just big on comic-books, games and movies.

They’re anime and manga addicts too! That’s why in Ani-Buzz, we’re tracking down some of anime fandom’s cult classics by the greatest Japanese directors of all time.

We’ll also have a peek at hot titles each season, courtesy of the good folks at online anime portal

In our first installment, we’re gonna hit the hard courts with The Prince of Tennis, a classic sports story that’s making a comeback thanks to the hype surrounding it’s 2012 re-make.

Also called Tenipuri for short, The Prince of Tennis revolves around elementary schooler Ryoma Echizen’s journey to become a top tennis player, but before this young prodigy can make a mark in the Japanese tennis scene, he has to contend with resentful teammates and upperclassmen at Seishun Academy.

Giving new meaning to "you got served!"

Tenipuri’s about coming of age, friendship, rivalries and growth – staples in any sports story if you think about it, and the story’s pretty standard fare. It’s rife with the over-the-top action and exaggerated (sometimes absurd) moves that define the sports genre, but unlike it’s contemporaries at the time, it does boast a fair amount of research.

Tennis fans will appreciate the creator’s use of jargon like “western grip” and “spin”, and while the art style might seem a little dated, it’s hard to forget that Tenipuri’s characters, especially the namesake protagonist, had once set the hearts of fangirls pounding in its heyday.

It’s an enjoyable watch, thanks to the quality work of the Production I.G. team, and both the OP and ED sequences were pretty jazzy.

Personally, I didn’t fancy the snippets of recycled and redundant footage that dogged the episodes, and there were some minor discrepancies in the subtitling, but it’s nothing an average viewer might notice otherwise.

Princess Bride reference, or pure coincidence? You decide.

Ultimately, it’s an evergreen title, and you’d probably want to give this series a go if you’re a fan of the sport. It’s also something worth reminiscing if you grew up with anime in the early 2000s.

Verdict: 3.5/5

Check out The (Classic) Prince of Tennis, airing now on Check out the Prince of Tennis on page and on Facebook for more information. 

Stan Lee's Romeo & Juliet: The War

6 Feb , 2012,
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The star-crossed lovers, from Romeo & Juliet: The War.

Romeo & Juliet’s been on the big screen. It’s also been adapted into an anime, and now, with comic legend Stan Lee’s sci-fi re-envisioning of this tale, it’s also a graphic novel.

Set against a backdrop of glowing neon, naked steel and harsh concrete, Romeo & Juliet: The War infuses this classic tale about star-crossed lovers with cybernetic warriors, genetically modified ninjas, and plenty of action splashed across 146 gorgeously painted pages.

The Montagues and Capulets are super soldiers – the progeny of two rival scientists charged with defending the Empire of Verona against its enemies – and while lasting peace has been brokered beyond the metropolis’s borders, the rivalry between these two factions run deep, and all it takes is a spark to ignite a new kind of conflict.

It is against this backdrop that The War unfurls, playing out the tragedy in three acts.

Check out the paneling for the fight sequences.

Nothing spells "love" quite like laser beams and explosions.

Skan Srisuwan and Studio Hive lend their creative talents to this volume, and the result is simply drool-worthy.

The futuristic city is rendered in brilliant detail, the character designs are exquisite, and the combat and conflict that exemplifies The War shines with fluid dynamism and a kinetic nature that synergizes perfectly with the invigorated art style and staccato paneling.

Mind you, if you’re hoping for a soppy love story in this rendition of Shakespeare’s classic, you’re out of luck. I can count the number of pages where the titular characters whisper sweet nothings to each other and kiss on one hand.

That is, of course, not to say that there’s no love in this epic space opera. After all, Romeo raids the armory and lays siege to a cathedral in the explosive finale, and all for Juliet. It’s a novel approach, to say the least, and I’m not ashamed to say that I found it vastly superior to what the Bard had come up with.

A really great read. Now, they just need to turn this into an animation or something.

Underworld Awakening

2 Feb , 2012,
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Underworld: Awakening - Poster Art.

You’d think that after 3 movies, the Underworld franchise would go to pot. After all, there’s only so much you can do with vampires, werewolves, and their perennial war in the shadows.

And then suddenly, humans come along, and you realize that hey, they’re really trying their damnedest to milk the franchise.

Now, don’t get me wrong.

I appreciate Underworld’s latest iteration Awakening for all it’s juicy bits – the fluid choreography, the intense sequences, the gorgeous Kate Beckinsale as Death Dealer Selene – but like it’s earlier installments, this film remains mired in hackneyed World of Darkness tropes and a water-thin plot that only just manages to pass muster.

With the elders all but dead and all order crumbling, vampires and werewolves alike are hard pressed to fight against a new enemy – the humans they’ve herded and victimized for centuries.

The public has discovered the presence of the “Infected”, and their reaction is anything but friendly.

Selene and her hybrid beau Michael (played by a faceless extra this time) are caught in the resultant purges, and when the huntress wakes up from her cryogenic sleep, more than a decade had passed.

Breaking out from the medical facility where she’s held, she discovers that it’s a different world out there, that her erstwhile beau is dead, and that her only link to the past is Subject 2, the daughter she’d somehow conceived during her twelve-year torpor.

And get this, that’s just the setup. The next half of the story has, predictably, Selene doing what she does best – dealing death with twin guns blazing as she embarks on a quest for some answers.

Plot aside, the show manages to plod credibly forward thanks to Beckinsale’s powerful performance. It’s a shame Scott Speedman (who played Michael Corvin in Underworld 1 & 2) had to give this one a miss though.

Directors Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein have to be commended for their aesthetic choices in the creation of this film. Awakening was decidedly gorier, darker, and more in keeping with the genre than it’s previous incarnations, and hopefully, that’s something we can expect in Underworld 5 (coming soon to a theater near you).

The way Selene tears through Antigen guards during her escape in the initial half of the show was bloody brilliant (pardon the pun), and it only gets better as the show progresses.

Ultimately, Awakening’s not all that bad if you watch it for what it is – a supernatural action thriller – and leave the grey matter at the door.

Old-school fangboys will also appreciate the fact that vampires and werewolves in this movie can actually kick-ass and kill stuff, and that’s always better than just looking pretty and sparkling in the sun, no?