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Poll: So, who’s your favorite µ’s member?

µ's MembersWell, it’s been something like over 9,000 years since our last poll, so I figured now would be a good time to have another one. And, in the spirit of yesterday’s Cool Find (which you really oughtta check out if you haven’t already) today’s poll is yet another one of those “Who’s your favorite (blah)?” polls… this time, we will be deciding which of the 9 μ’s members shall reign supreme! (coughUmicough) So vote away! Please, only one vote per human, no fancy browser/IP hiding/VPN/etc. tricks, etc. blah blah, you get the idea.

So who՚s your favorite µ՚s Member?
Honoka
Umi
Kotori
Maki
Hanayo
Rin
Nico
Eli
Nozomi
NONE! I hate all this Love Live crap! Begone!
WTF are you talking about?!
View Result

Cool Find: Love Live! School Idol Festival – a really cute (and fun!) rhythm game for iOS and Android

ILLSIF Intro ScreenUnfortunately, due to further scheduling conflicts, and a suddenly-very-flaky computer (random spontaneous crashes, makes it really difficult to do stuff like record/edit audio and video) I still haven’t been able to get our AX 2015 coverage online. I’m hoping to have the computer problems sorted out soon, so that I can at least finish posting AX pics and video (not sure it’s worth it to do our usual audio recording at this point, since we’re now 2 months past the event itself, but I may change my mind.) In the meantime though, I have yet another Cool Find for you! So pull up a chair and stay awhile and listen as Uncle Donald spins another of his famous long-winded yarns before actually getting to the point of this whole article, as he is wont to do.

When the whole DDR craze hit, I was just entering my Second Wave of Anime Fandom, having recently come back from a (less than stellar) attempt at getting a higher education, and with very little to do except mope about town while taking computer classes at the local community college and working odd jobs. It was then that I reunited with some of my old disreputable friends from school (yes Scott, I’m talking about you :) ) and where one day, as we were randomly shooting the breeze, I happened to start talking about my first love, he turned to me and said “So, you like that kind of stuff, huh? Well you really oughtta check out this ‘anime’ stuff… here, you can borrow these…” And the rest, as they say, is history.

(Man, less than a full paragraph in and I’m already rambling… Time to get back on topic… er, off topic… before getting back on-topic… whatever…)

Where was I? Right. Late 90s/early 2000s. I was pretty much locked into the anime fandom by that point, and had started branching out into other things like JRPGs and video games in general. I started going to anime cons right around this time as well. Back then I remember DDR machines popping up pretty much everywhere you went — arcades (those few that remained by then, that is… sniff), pizza parlors, bowling alleys… I think even my community college rec room had one at one point. And when the home release came out, it instantly became a staple of anime con gaming rooms across the land.

But I never really got into the whole DDR craze — but not for the reason you think. It’s true, I’m ordinarily not the kind of person to do something as embarrassing as gyrating wildly in front of complete strangers; but with enough persuasion (mixed with a little alcohol, and maybe a Klondike bar as well) even I could eventually be convinced to debase myself in such a manner. No, the real reason for my reluctance is an entirely practical one: I hate con funk — not just on other people, but especially on myself — and nothing does a better job at generating con funk than stomping around wildly and vigorously, as one tends to do when playing DDR. (This is why I almost never visit an anime con’s game room nowadays. Oh God, the funk. passes out and dies)

As for home-based setups, it’s true, a home-based DDR setup would eliminate (or at least greatly reduce) the con funk factor, since (A) there are generally less bodies around to cause con funk, and (B) when you’re in your own home, you can more easily control your own body odor (e.g. changing your shirt or taking a shower.) But I never really had either the money or the physical space to get a DDR setup (or any of its uber-popular spiritual successors like Guitar Hero and Rock Band.) (I also didn’t have enough friends to play it with… sniff… but that’s another story.)

But when portable game consoles came on the market, and decent rhythm games started showing up there, that’s when I finally started getting in on the genre. True, you didn’t get the same kind of physical exercise as you did when playing DDR, but playing a rhythm game on a portable device was still just as fun, and the lack of physical exertion meant that there was little to no con funk potential involved. It also could be done solo — while most rhythm games had a multiplayer component (either using a console’s built-in wireless networking, or the tried and true “hand your console off to the next player” method) most games could be played single player, where your “opponent” is either the computer, or yourself (i.e. beating your own score.) One of my all-time favorites is the K-On! game for the PSP. I played the heck out of that thing, that is, until my PSP broke. I also discovered that, contrary to my beliefs, I was actually a pretty decent rhythm game player (which was another reason why I didn’t really feel like getting into the genre in the first place.) No, I can’t pull off those m4d 1337 Hard mode Full Combos you see on the YouTubes, but I have gotten to a point where I can consistently get high ranks on easy and (most of the time) normal, and have even managed to low-rank on an Hard level song every now and again.

Fast forward to today. Nowadays, just about everyone is carrying around a device just as powerful, if not more so, than most portable game consoles. Yes, I am speaking about smartphones and tablets. And developers have taken note. Even longtime mobile gaming holdout Nintendo has started putting out mobile titles. (a moment of silence as we mourn the passing of Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata) Mobile gaming is big business, and just about everybody wants in on a piece of the action. This brought about a huge explosion of mobile titles, including – yes, you guessed it – rhythm games. A rhythm game is a perfect fit for a touchscreen device like smartphones and tablets — tapping on-screen buttons is even easier than dealing with actual physical gamepads, plus the quick nature of rhythm game play sessions (most rhythm game songs are in the 1-2 minute range) fits perfectly with the short play sessions typical of smartphone gaming (e.g. you play in brief spurts when you have a few minutes, waiting for the bus, in line at the grocery store, etc.). Unfortunately many of these titles are only available in the Japanese app stores. But even if you could buy an app on the Japanese app store (which is certainly possible, there are companies that can help make that process (relatively) easy for both iOS and Android users) there is still that language barrier to overcome. We now have some great companies like JAST and MangaGamer that are localizing PC and console content. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for mobile games. Which is why we rejoice on those few occasions when a developer sees fit to bring their title to a wider audience outside of Japan. Such an event has happened recently, and it is based on none other than that über-popular multimedia franchise that has pretty much dominated the Internets lately, Love Live!

In case you’ve just woken up from a years-long coma, or been living in a cave in the Himalayas or something, Love Live! is a ridiculously popular multimedia franchise, consisting of manga and light novels, anime, a hit movie that recently came out in theaters, and a metric crapton of music CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays. It tells the tale of high school student Honoka Kosaka who, when she hears the news that her beloved high school will be closing soon due to lack of applicants, decides to form an idol group, µ’s (pronounced “Muse” — and no, I’m not talking about these dudes) to try and generate interest in her school and attract new students — and maybe, just maybe, win the nationwide Love Live! idol competition. It’s pretty much the only thing the people I follow on Twitter have been talking about recently, and so I finally broke down and watched the anime — and I liked it! Cute, lovable characters, a down-to-earth and heartfelt story, pretty and shiny animation and above all else, some really catchy music. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you can be persuaded to step outside your comfort zone even a little, you should watch it — you might just like it.

Well the latest property to join the Love Live! franchise is none other than Love Live! School Idol Festival, a rhythm game put out by Bushiroad and KLab on both iOS and Android. And – good news for all us non-Japanese speakers — not only did they make the app available in non-Japanese app stores, they went one step further and localized (translated) the app into English, Chinese and Korean. So now everyone can play along!

As a rhythm game, it’s fairly typical of the genre. There are 9 spots on screen where you can tap (corresponding to the 9 members in the idol group µ’s.) As the song plays, circles will start flying down the screen towards one or more spots, timed to the beat of the music, and you must hit the corresponding button right when the circle hits the correct spot. If you timed it right, and hit it dead-on, you get a Perfect score; if you’re off by a little, you get a lesser score, and if your timing is way off (or you miss entirely) you actually lose points. You have a certain amount of Stamina which goes down every time you screw up. If your stamina goes to zero, you fail. But if you manage to plow through the entire song (accurately or not) without completely draining your stamina, you will clear the song and get a final grade, based on your performance, how accurately you hit the notes, how long your longest combo was, etc. Usually you’ll see single notes coming down the screen, one at a time. (Although sometimes they will be in quick succession, one right after the other, so pay attention!) Sometimes you will also see a pair of notes with horizontal bars through them; these need to be hit simultaneously. A note with a trail behind it needs to be pressed and held until the trail ends. And there are notes with stars in them that, if you screw up on those notes, you lose even more points than you would if you screwed up on a regular note. Songs are available to play in Easy, Normal, Hard and Expert modes. (Although I’d avoid Expert and maybe Hard mode, at least at first, unless you’re an android or something.)

But there’s another portion to this game too. Your idol unit is composed of cards, which you get as rewards when completing songs, or you can “scout” (i.e. random draw) for them using friend points and Love Gems, which you win at various stages throughout the game. Most cards are “normal,” meaning they have no special abilities; but there are also Rare, Super Rare and Ultra Rare cards that you can get that give you special bonuses or powers when placed on your team, such as a chance to increase your score or relax the timing or recover lost stamina periodically; with enough of these, you can survive and clear even Expert level songs. Cards can also be leveled up to increase their stats and special abilities. In this respect the game has kind of a Pokémon aspect to it (“gotta catch ’em all”) or something like Magic: The Gathering or similar type of collectible card game.

Finally, there’s also a visual novel-esque component to the game — as you play with a card in your team, you increase your “bond” with that card, and when you’ve maxed out both its level and your bond, you unlock that character’s story, which you get rewarded for viewing.

(This description is somewhat oversimplified (not to mention kind of lame, now that I re-read it) so you really should check out some of the resources below, especially the videos – they do a much better job of explaining the game mechanics than I.)

The game can be played alone, but there are regularly occurring “events” (usually about two every month, lasting about a week apiece) where you can compete against others (in sort of a tier/ladder type format) and win some cool prizes, including unique super-rare cards. But regardless of whether you play it alone or go gonzo and dive headfirst into each and every event, you’ll have a lot of fun. The game works well even on older devices, the graphics are shiny and cute, and the songs are catchy as hell. You’ll recognize a lot of them from the anime, as well as the various music CD/DVD/Blu-ray releases if you’re familiar with those.

Get it today for iOS and Android – it’s free! (Yes, there are in-app purchases – you can buy Love Gems, but you really don’t need to, it’s pretty easy to get them in-game without paying a thing, sometimes as easy as just logging into the game.) And if you like, feel free to friend me up! My friend code is 767074992, and provided that I still have enough space on my friends list, I’ll be glad to friend you back.

Need help getting started or learning how to play? This guide on the LLSIF subreddit (there’s a subreddit for everything apparently) is very helpful, as is this guide by Twitter user @sproutella. Finally, YouTuber ErynCerise has a great series of videos on how to play the game, build and optimize your teams, play the various types of events and so on.

🎵 Music S.T.A.R.T!! 🎵

Android app on Google Play

Continue reading Cool Find: Love Live! School Idol Festival – a really cute (and fun!) rhythm game for iOS and Android


Otaku no Podcast is now on Patreon; become a Patron & help us bring you a better blog & podcast!

Patreon Support ButtonI’ve been putting out this blog and podcast for over 8 years now, and in that time, I’ve had a lot of fun, met a lot of really cool people, and even managed to learn a thing or two. But it’s also left me with one major regret — not being able to bring great content to you on a regular basis.

The reality is that, unlike some of the big-name podcasters out there, I cannot make my living off of the podcast alone. Which means that, in order to keep a roof over my head, put food on the table and pay those oh-so-pesky bills that tend to show up regularly, I have to keep up a Real Job™ just like the rest of you. This leaves me with very little spare time in which to do the podcast, and almost no money to put towards it (remember those pesky bills?) And this really upsets me.

But as I was thinking about this the other day, an idea suddenly hit me: why not do the trendy thing and crowdfund? It seems that every day more and more anime and video game projects are jumping on the crowdfunding bandwagon, and for the most part they have been quite successful. So, never one to shy away from the latest trend, we’ve set ourselves up a Patreon campaign.

Patreon is similar to the other crowdfunding sites out there (Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, etc.) except it is specially geared toward creators of episodic and/or periodic media-type content – books, music, TV shows, movies, YouTube videos, and, yes, podcasts as well. Rather than just a simple one-shot contribution, Patreon contributions are regularly reoccurring, either episode-by-episode or month-by-month. The idea is that if you support your favorite project on Patreon (such as Otaku no Podcast) you in essence become a patron of the arts, similar to how, in the olden days, artists, sculptors, painters, musicians, etc. would find themselves a rich benefactor who basically supported them in exchange for them creating works of art for them.

Similar to Kickstarter, etc., there are multiple levels of funding available to choose from. You can donate any amount, as low as $1 per month; but if your donation meets or exceeds a certain level, you get certain perks. For example, donate $1 or more (the base amount) and we will add your name to the Patrons’ Wall, a new section on the Otaku no Podcast website where we’ll put the names of our wonderful supporters. (Not much there now, so don’t bother going to it yet.) Donating $5 per month or more will not only get you a spot on the Patrons’ Wall, but we will also announce your name and publicly thank you on an actual podcast episode. And so on.

“But what about the ad banners?! What about the affiliate links (Amazon, etc.)?!” you might say. Unfortunately these just don’t generate the kind of steady source of income that I would need in order to bring about the improvements I’d like to make around here.

What sort of improvements? My first priority is to get some more regular content — both blog posts and podcasts (audio and/or video — and for that I’d need to bring on some guest bloggers and co-hosts. Ideally I’d love to be able to pay them, either a regular monthly “salary” of sorts, or to pay them for each contribution (article, guest apperance, etc.); or at the very least I’d like to be able to buy them an anime/game/whatever for them to review, etc. I’m also looking to fix up the website. It leaves much to be desired; it definitely needs some work behind the scenes (improving the code, loading speed, etc.) And we could use some new artwork for both the website and the podcast itself (album art, etc.) – ideally, I’d love to be able to commission some custom stuff (that we would legally “own.”) And — this may be pie-in-the-sky, but one can dream — maybe, just maybe, we might be able to afford equipment upgrades; or maybe even give us an actual travel budget, so that I could start bringing you coverage from the other great anime cons and other Japan-related cultural events out there (or find people to go do that for us.)

So please, become a Patron today and help support this blog and podcast. You can help us out for as little as a paltry $1/month. There is no contract or anything like that; you can change your contribution level, or even cancel entirely, at any time. And if you’re not up for a regular monthly commitment, there are plenty of other one-time ways you can help out – by purchasing products from our various affiliates, or with a donation. All of those can be found on our How You Can Help page. Finally, if you are unable or unwilling to help us monetarily, we would still appreciate your help in other ways as well; spread the word about us, post about us on your blog or on forums and so forth, and rate and/or review us in the various podcast directories (e.g. iTunes) and app stores. However you choose to help us, we very much appreciate it. You guys (and gals) rock.


Cool Find: Misheard Song Lyrics, Anime Style!

Meet a Mega BearWhen listening to music, it’s not always easy to pick out what the artist is actually singing, even under the most ideal circumstances (i.e. when a singer isn’t shouting into his mike like they do in death metal or whatever.) Back in the good old days, one would have liner notes which often had the lyrics printed on them. These days, of course, we have the always-on, always-available Internets, and thanks to various websites we can instantly look up a song’s lyrics. Still, there have been some pretty humorous misheard lyrics over the years, one of the most famous being from Jimi Hendrix’s song “Purple Haze,” where he sang “Excuse me while I kiss the sky,” but which most people humorously misheard as “Excuse me while I kiss this guy.” The popularity of misheard lyrics continues to rise, because some of them can be pretty damn funny. You can look through quite a bunch of them at the apporpriately-named website Kiss This Guy.

Well, anime songs (the songs used during the opening and ending credits of just about every anime under the sun) are not immune to this phenomenon, even though they’re (mostly) sung in Japanese, which most of us Westerners don’t speak. You’d think that not being able to understand the language would hamper one’s ability to find “kiss this guy” style moments, but in fact, it seems to be the opposite – our brains are terribly good at pattern-matching, picking known patterns out of otherwise unintelligible fields of data; and as it turns out, the sounds of the Japanese language can sound humorously similar to certain English phrases. A recent RocketNews24 article points out YouTube user AzukanoAMVs, who recently put together an absolutely hilarious video of just a few examples. Check it out on YouTube or via the embedded player below the cut. (Warning: somewhat NSFW. Also be warned, these are really freaking hilarious, don’t have soda/food/etc. in your mouth when watching them, or else you risk splattering your monitor/walls/coworkers/etc.!) The RocketNews24 article collects some examples, including what the original Japanese was supposed to say (translated into English as well.) For the other examples, you can find the lyrics of the songs at a site such as Anime Lyrics

Thanks, guys and gals at RocketNews24 and AzukanoAMVs. You totally made my day.

Continue reading Cool Find: Misheard Song Lyrics, Anime Style!


We’re back from Anime Expo 2015; coverage to commence soon

Anime Expo 2015 logoThis is just a quick update to let y’all know that, yes indeed, we are back from AX, and survived more or less unscathed. As always, the con had its ups and downs, but on balance we had a great time as always.

Ordinarily, we get together to record our giant review/wrap-up/opinions/etc. podcast session of Doom on the weekend right after AX; however, this year, that was impossible, as San Diego Comic-Con was held the weekend after AX — which is somewhat unusual, Comic-Con usually happens more towards the end of July — and some of our esteemed panelists were unavailable since they attended Comic-Con as well. (Hopefully they have large reserves of stamina and/or a large supply of energy drinks.) We hope to schedule our wrap-up podcast within the next week or two, though this is always difficult considering everyones’ busy schedules these days. Rest assured we’ll get our group podcast review recorded and out the door as soon as we possibly can.

In other news, I’ve had a chance to review the photos and videos that I took, and they all came out beautifully. For once, I managed to not take over 9,000 photos! Unfortunately this was for a kind of lame reason; I accidentally left all but one of my camera’s memory cards at home. But the good news is that since I now only have a few hundred photos to cull through, rather than thousands and thousands of them, there is actually a good chance that I’ll be able to find the time to go through, edit and post them. Look for those to come out over the next few weeks. Unfortunately you’ll have to go to our Flickr page directly for those; the Flickr gallery on our own website quit working a couple of WordPress updates ago and I haven’t been able to find a replacement that I like as much as our old one. For our videos, you’ll likewise have to check in to our YouTube channel directly as well.

And finally, keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook, we will post announcements when various bits of our AX related media (podcasts, photos, and videos) goes live.


Cool Find: Waifu2x – a cool image processing tool to help upscale (not just anime) image files

Waifu2x DemoIf you’re a fan of anime (and one would hope that you are, since you’re here reading this blog) then you probably have a rather large collection of anime-themed graphics files sitting on your computer and/or smartphone/tablet. Perhaps you’re using them for desktop wallpapers or a photo screensaver, or as forum avatars, or to jazz up your blog posts, or maybe you just like to sit for hours and stare longingly at your 2D waifu. (Come on guys, admit it. Confession is good for the soul.) But, odds are that many of those images are fairly low-res. (Actually this is somewhat less true nowadays, thanks to more powerful and cheaper CPUs and HD quality source material; however there are still quite a few lower-resolution images to be found out there.) And trying to view those low-res images on today’s ultra-high-res monitors is an exercise in pain and frustration. You could upscale them in a graphics program, sure, but that would end up turning a nice-looking, if small, image into a giant smeared blob of yuck that’d make you want to tear your eyes out. (Ok, I admit this is a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s true that upscaling a smaller image does make it look grainy and blotchy and pretty nasty.) So what is a red-blooded image-loving otaku to do?!

Well guess what, Japanese Github user “nagadomi” has come to the rescue with a truly awesome piece of (free!) software. Waifu2x is an image processing app that uses some pretty freaky cool technology to upscale image files while preserving line detail and shading, and vastly reducing graphical glitches/artifacting. It does this using “convolutional neural networks,” a technology that even I can’t wrap my head around (and I work in the technology industry!) Basically (and this is in extreme layman’s terms) a neural network is a way for a computer system to “learn” a particular task, similar to how the human brain “learns” by forming neural pathways. Specifically, the convolutional neural network that Waifu2x uses is specially designed to simulate the way we process visual information; which explains why it’s so good at what it does (processing image files.) What exactly does it do? It is designed to optimally upscale images while preserving the strong lines that an animator uses when drawing characters’ features, etc., while minimizing artirfacting and digital noise. And the results are, in a word, stunning. Don’t believe me? Check out some of the sample images on the project page on Github. In the words of one Redditor, “[T]his performs unbelievably well on images with clean linework and shading, creating near-perfect upscales.”

And lest you think that this piece of software is a frivolous waste of time and energy, there are people using it for other (non-anime) tasks as well. It is, after all, an image upscaler, and the neural network can actually “learn” to process different types of images. One enterprising individual is using it to upscale traditional Japanese artwork that is not available in high-quality scans, only small reprints in a book. There are even some enterprising souls that are using this to upscale video as well.

Unfortunately, all this computational awesomeness comes at a rather high cost. These heavy-duty computations are too much for even the beefiest of CPUs, and requires a fairly high-grade GPU for its processing power; specifically, an NVIDIA GPU that supports the CUDA parallel computing platform and Compute Capability 3.0 or later. If you’re one of those hardcore gamers, then you’re probably set, so go ahead and download and install it! (it’s not too difficult, just follow the instructions.) But if your hardware isn’t up to snuff, fortunately the author has set up a demo site that you can try out with your own images.


Going to Anime Expo? Interested in Hatsune Miku? Then be sure and check out this exhibit!

Hatsune Miku Dreams of Electric Sheep Nucleus Art Gallery and StoreIn our recent episode on budgeting for an anime convention, we recommended that you should set aside some money for those “oh crap!” type moments — accidentally overspending on something, dealing with various forms of Travel and/or Con Drama (lost luggage, roommates you just don’t get along with, etc.) and so on. Well, another (more positive) reason that you may want to keep a little bit of extra money in your budget is that, while you’re at con, you might catch wind of some cool and/or fun event that happens to be in town while you’re at con, that you might want to take an evening to go and visit. Having a little extra cash on hand makes this kind of serendipitous event possible.

Case in point: if you’ll be going to Anime Expo, and if you are a fan of (or are even at least a little bit interested in) Hatsune Miku and/or Vocaloid in general, then you might want to check out this cool event hosted at the Gallery Nucleus, a mere 12 miles from the LACC. “Hatsune Miku Dreams of Electric Sheep” is an exhibit being put on by Crypton Future Media in partnership with Gallery Nucleus, and features an exciting line-up of original art featuring our favorite blue-haired, leek-wielding virtual diva, Hatsune Miku. The exhibit features a large and exciting collection of original art featuring Miku & Co. done by various artists, each depicting Miku in their own unique artistic style. This collision of worlds will no doubt surprise and entertain fans and curious onlookers alike.

In addition, there will be some merchandise available for purchase, including limited-edition prints, T-shirts, a gallery exhibition catalog (which includes a download card for a special Hatsune Miku EP) and many Snow Miku goods available for the first time outside of Japan. (Another reason to have some extra cash lying about.)

The exhibit will be running between July 2, 2015 – July 19, 2015 (just in time for Anime Expo) at the Gallery Nucleus, located at 210 East Main St, in Alhambra, which is only about 12 miles from the LACC (check out the route on Google Maps or in the map embedded below this post). It’s open Tuesday through Sunday from 12 noon until 8 PM (they’re closed Mondays.) The Opening Reception, which will be held on Jul 2 from 6:00PM – 10:00PM, will feature a Hatsune Miku concert screening (tickets are $5, must be purchased online and are limited to 200, so better act quickly if you’re interested.) Otherwise, the exhibit is open to all and is completely free and does not require a reservation. (though you will need to get yourself there, either driving or public transportation, hence the “why you might need to keep some extra money around” comment earlier.)

Continue reading Going to Anime Expo? Interested in Hatsune Miku? Then be sure and check out this exhibit!


Well that was fast: Preliminary Anime Expo 2015 schedules are now up!

Anime Expo 2015 LogoMurphy’s Law strikes yet again here at Otaku no Podcast. (Seems to happen a lot around here.) Mere hours after we released our most recent episode — in which we talked about Anime Expo 2015 but couldn’t really give any details because the schedules weren’t out yet (and we didn’t think they’d be out until at least the middle of the month) — Anime Expo goes and drops a bombshell on us, in the form of the AX 2015 preliminary schedule.

(In the fantasy world inside my head, I am imagining the AX staffers crowded around their computers, listening to the podcast, when one of them (the leader, who, naturally, has adopted the Gendo pose) calmly intones, “So, they don’t think we can release an event schedule until way closer to the event, do they? Well we’ll show them! Mwahahaha!!!” complete with that little smirk that Gendo puts on whenever he says something devious. The reality, being much more boring, is that it was probably just nothing but coincidence. :) )

Anyway, yes indeed, Anime Expo announced that the preliminary schedule for AX 2015 is now available online for your viewing pleasure. With over 200 hours of programming already entered, this is definitely shaping up to be one awesome weekend — and they’re nowhere near finished filling in the schedule yet! Definitely keep an eye on it. In particular, this schedule does not include any autograph sessions, video room schedules, gaming schedules, or any event/guest/whatever that they haven’t yet announced. (Surprise 11th hour guest/programming announcements, anyone?)

Now for the bad news: there is not (as far as I can tell) a downloadable PDF version of the schedule as there has been in the past. Maybe they’ll make one available closer to the event; this is, after all, still early days. Also there is no word on whether the schedule will be made available through some sort of mobile-friendly format (hopefully Guidebook again… fingers crossed…) Again, I’m guessing that they’ll probably wait until very close to the final version of the schedule before releasing that.

However, they did set up a web portal where you can view the schedule, using the SCHED app, which they’ve used before in the past. As web portals go, it’s pretty decent. You can view the schedule in one of several formats: as a simple list of events ordered by time, as a list ordered by location (room) or as the traditional schedule grid. The events are color-coded to make identifying the various types of events (panels, main events, workshops, etc.) easy. There is a search function that lets you easily find a particular event or panel you’re looking for. And finally, you can create an account on the site, and mark down events that you are interested in, which puts them in a special “My Schedule” section for easy access. (Note: there are two ways you can register for the site; either by supplying a traditional email and password, or by using your Facebook account. I could not, for the life of me, get the email/password to work; I had much better luck going through my Facebook account.)

Go check it out today!


Episode #0046 – Anime Convention Budgeting 101

Podcast SymbolWhen going to an anime con, one thing you’re gonna need is money — lots of money. Hotels, travel, food, registration, main event tickets — they don’t come cheap. Plus, you’ll want to have some money left over to spend in the dealer’s room, right? Well, budgeting may not be a particularly exciting topic, and it may either bore you or make you run screaming for the hills, but it’s an absolutely necessary one, if you want to maximize your con-going enjoyment. And it’s not that hard to do either. In today’s episode, we show you how. Along the way, we dish out a few convention survival tips as well — Be sure and listen to our full episode on con survival tips too! We also take a look at the upcoming Anime Expo – our favorite con is right around the corner, and we’re seriously getting pumped about it.

Today’s Sponsor: Listeners like you! Help us bring this blog and podcast to you.

Today’s Theme: “Blue Field (ブルー・フィールド)” by Trident, ED to the anime Arpeggio of Blue Steek (aka Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio, aka Ars Nova.) Watch it on Crunchyroll. (and if you don’t already have one, be sure and get a Crunchyroll Premium Membership!)

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AnimEigo launches Kickstarter campaign to fund our namesake, Otaku no Video! (Updated)

Otaku no VideoCrowdfunding is one of the many unique and innovative ideas to come out of today’s Internet-savvy, high-speed connected, social media-saturated world. Crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo make it possible for a person or a group who have an idea for a cool product or service, but not a lot of money, to potentially attract interest and gain enough funding to turn their dream into a reality. It still requires a lot of effort — you still have to get noticed, which means you need to get the word out about your product — and even if you get enough backing, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to successfully bring your product to market — but a successfully crowdfunded project at least has a fighting chance at becoming reality.

Crowdfunding initially gained popularity with the tech industry, with tech-related products making up the first wave of crowdfunded projects; however now other industries are waking up and taking notice of these successes, including the entertainment industry, who have successfully crowdfunded several movie & TV shows, including a few fan favorites.

Now the anime and video game industries are getting in on the action too. It seems that not a day goes by when I don’t see some news article about some crowdfunded anime or video game or whatnot. Sadly, there have been a few notable failures; still, the successes are impressive. Well, the latest one of these to garner the public’s attention is one that is particularly near and dear to our hearts, since it involves a unique animated classic that just happens to be the inspiration for the name of this very blog and podcast.

Otaku no Video, created by the folks at Gainax, is an oddball but delightful animated tale which tells the story of Ken Kubo, a normal, average-Joe college student, who one day runs into an old high school friend, Tanaka, who turns out to be a hardcore otaku. Soon he and Tanaka start hanging out and Ken finds himself drawn into the world of the otaku, to the extreme annoyance of his girlfriend and other “normal” friends. Soon Ken’s transformation is complete, and he dives headlong into his new otaku lifestyle, with the ultimate goal and desire to become “King of all Otaku,” or “OtaKing.” Interspersed with the animated segments are a series of really odd yet humorous “real-life” interviews with otaku of various persuasions (all of whom just happen to be members of Gainax.) The entire piece serves as a delightful “mockumentary”-style homage to the otaku culture, and is also, in a way, an animated telling of the history behind the studio Gainax. (And yes, like I said before, it also serves as our namesake. “Otaku no Video” can be translated as “Geeks’ Video” — hence our name, “Otaku no Podcast,” or “Geeks’ Podcast.”)

Well, as it turns out, next year is going to be Otaku no Video’s 25th anniversary, and to commemorate this momentous occasion, AnimEigo announced that they would be crowdfunding a brand new Blu-ray release of Otaku no Video, just in time for its 25th anniversary. People who back the campaign will receive the “OtaKing Edition,” which includes the entirety of Otaku no Video, presented using a gorgeous new HD transfer of the film that was created for the Japanese Blu-ray release which shipped last year. It’ll include Japanese audio and English subtitles. In addition, the disc will feature four audio commentary tracks (Japanese with English subtitles) featuring commentary from various people involved with the project. The discs will not be region-coded, and will be available to ship anywhere except Japan. Their goal is US$40,000, and if the project exceeds its funding goal, AnimEigo will also throw in some additional “stretch goal” perks, including patches, art books, dōjinshi and more. AnimEigo has successfully funded a previous Kickstarter campaign — a rather nicely-done Blu-ray release of one of my favorites, Bubblegum Crisis — so I have high hopes that they’ll succeed in this venture as well.

The Kickstarter will go live at 10 AM Eastern time on Tuesday, June 2. I’ll update this post once the Kickstarter page has gone live. In the meantime, you can check out a video that they produced (which shows off the excellent HD transfer they’ll be using) at Vimeo or via the embedded player below the cut.

Update 06/02/2015: The Kickstarter campaign is now live! Their goal is $40,000; however after less than a day of being up, they’ve already amassed over $35,000 of that! This one looks like it’s in the bag!

Update 06/02/2015 only just a little bit later than the above update: They’ve met their $40,000 goal in less than a day! Amazing!

Update 06/03/2015 late evening: This thing’s riding to number one with a bullet – not only have they exceeded their $40k goal, they’ve almost doubled it – the kickstarter is at $60,900 as I write this, and there’s still 21 days to go, if you’d still like to get in on the action.

Continue reading AnimEigo launches Kickstarter campaign to fund our namesake, Otaku no Video! (Updated)