Monthly Archives: May 2006

Anime North 2006 & Miscellanous Canadia Lore

Kujian Cosplay Group

Toronto was like, the dark evil twin universe of The West Side. There were just too many odd things that happened outside the con-chasing chain of events while we were there. It started out when my friend told me that his two WoW guildies, natives to the locale and playing our tour guides, share names with myself and our third in the party.

I guess this is the second time I’ve been to Toronto ever, and it was pretty close to what I remembered a long time ago. Things has changed for the better in a lot of ways but I just went to different places this time. I could’ve spent a couple more days there, for sure. Maybe we’ll save that for a future visit. AN alone was more than enough, and plus what outings we did it was actually a packed day-and-a-half.

Going to try to do this con report slightly differently–hey, like a Character-Driven Narrative? I think that makes more sense this time around, partly because the three main characters (in this story) all had different agendas. Maybe I’ll toss it up like an anime website. Plus some fictionalization, yay!


Anime North is this growing convention up in Toronto annually. It used to be this pissant little thing (like most cons) but where can the sizable Toronto population get their convention fix? Most East Coast cons are way down by VA or below and what little offering in the NY Metro area has been lackluster at best, leaving those Canucks in the cold. Toronto is a pretty nice city in its own right and the huge Asian population there demands some kind of anime festivity.

But why am I, an American, going to AN? Plus two others no less? We’re about to find out.


  • Zekmyr
    The main character in the story; in a lot of ways only because his disposition is neutral. Friends with Omo and Ming for a long time IRL. Somewhat of a new anime fan, as well, making that POV even more sympathetic?
    The lead antagonist/female interest in the story. Concert musician from Japan. Has a posse.
  • Ming
    The fearless ranger and master of Canadian Lore. No “About” or “Eh” escapes his well-trained ears. Plays a raid-happy rogue in World of Warcraft in his second life. Well-connected with Canadians.
  • Omo
    The mastermind behind the plot, yours truely. KOTOKO fan and scores high on anime convention lore, at least he thinks so if such things exists.
  • Lord of All Evil
    The Inside Man. Little is known about this mysterious character.
  • Sinbios
    The Resident Comic Relief Maid Boy.
  • SS
    Plays the straight guy for Comic Relief, RL friend of Sinbios.
  • Hayama
    Silent yet infamous clutch comedian. Master of screen cap blogging and free porn game fans.
  • Ed
    Clutch translator of stereotypical proportions.
  • The Random Security Guy
    Nice con volunteer. A true fan. Bilingual and wants to get on in with LOAE.
  • Ex-Military Ops
    Ex-Military people. Communicates with hand signals. Comes with sunglasses.
  • The Geneon Guy
    Fan at heart but now a corporate interest. Master of rock paper & scissors.
  • The Crazy Fangirl Party
    This group of 4 fangirls, ages 16-18, is inseparable entity of MSN handle stalking glompers.
  • Go Nagai
    Old school anime con guest. Pimp.
  • DJ Izumi
    DJ and Master spinner of anime video/audio. Evil Man Maid.
  • The Good Twins et al.
    Ming’s guildmates and our tourguides.

Story & Episode Synopsis

Episode 1: KOTOKO’s harbringers came by and foretold of great fun and fortune and excitement. Like all good intelligent people, Ming and Zekmyr are skeptics of all harbringers, let alone this one. Omo tried hard to make it work–but most of the episode flashes back to a shared experience between Zekmyr and Omo a year ago with KOTOKO. Just what it was is unknown…

Episode 2: After some off-the-screen shuffle Ming mysteriously becomes pro-trip and Zekmyr joins the power of three on this journey. With mild panic at the national border all was well. Most of this episode features dreary landscape of western Pennsylvania.

Episode 3: Down but not out, the trio makes landing at the appointed hotel at the appointed time. Toronto is the land of free wifi and Omo makes contact with the Inside Man. Secrets and money were exchanged. The party ends the night at the inn with a shocking reappearence of KOTOKO, but she did not notice(?)

Episode 4: The new day was indeed new. Inside Man botched (but not his fault) so the party expended some of the local currencies in pursuit of underaged (yet legal) booties and badges. Lines were to be waited, free Full Throttle kept things upbeat and security guards confused. The episode ends as a cliffhanger: special KOTOKO tokens were needed to obtain entry to the Concert; will Hayama pull out something to help the gang when Sinbios and SS failed?

Episode 5: Plenty excitement is to be had when the three secure three of the last thirty Concert tokens. To that end, we split up and did the usual convention thing: dealer’s room. Advance reports from Hayama indicated a poor offering, and it was so. However expectations varied and Ming and Zekmyr nonetheless scored good loot. Omo grows wary, however, and tension is to be had. The group was brought together under the magic of clay dragons.

Episode 6: Lore of the Con says that lines are to be waited, so Omo split off in anticipation of KOTOKO’s coming. Zekmyr and Ming continued to chase underaged booties. Sinbios and SS meet with Omo. After a time Hayama returns to swap info with Omo, but resulting a partial mission failure as line waiting got slightly botched.

Episode 7: The line. Yep. Lots of pics but mostly line. Just line. A line. Inside man swapped more info. Anticipation. Line. At the end of the episode we slowly build up to the start of the concert. Inside Man guaranteed us front row seating. The Crazy Fangirl Party makes their debut.

Episode 8: Lots of jumping, pumping in the air, screaming, chanting, and adoring KOTOKO. And a lot of KOTOKO, too. A chat with The Random Security Guy kicks off the show with some honest to goodness words about fandom. Ex-Military Ops makes a showing too, just to expend budget. There was also glomping, tickling, being called names and not able to recognize people’s faces. Shouts to sit or stand? Glowsticks? So much in the climax episode.

Episode 9: Managing to lose the Crazy Fangirls at the post-concert exedus, the trio also managed to lose a chance to get KOTOKO swag. There were a lot of waiting but we scored autographs!

Episode 10: Recoperated and relocated–Inside Man goes to get drunk post-concert. We aim to not get outdone. Ming returns triumphant, as he usually does; Zekmyr and myself took it safe. The Good Twins et al. are great locals, and even offering us the meat market scene with their guidence. The food was good, girls hot, costs were sensible, and LOAE is a funny drunk.

Episode 11: Things come to an end. There were exchanges of thankfulness and hopefulness. More nice Chinese food was had. KOTOKO makes her last appearence at the panel; Zekmyr and Omo both won hoodies! Alas, goodbye Canada. Thanks for all the Hikkikomori encouragement!

Episode 12: The way home was much like Lando & Chewie in Episode Six. Except they just have to go very fast where as we have to go very fast and slow down when we see cops. We made record time, nonetheless, and had more fancy foods.

Episode 13: Happy end–the three celebrates the end of their vacation with a movie and meeting more friends in the local area.


Now Printing? Whatever. Check this website periodically for updates.


Samurai Champloo Hoodie (free!)
About a bijillion KOTOKO concert flyers (except I don’t have them anymore) (free!)

Yes, I didn’t buy a single merchandise at this con. First ever.

Links & Props

Big thanks to AN itself: its staffers and organization. To LOAE I owe my …something. I guess a future IOU if he needs legal advice or something. A <3 to KOTOKO and the guys who made it possible. A \o/ to the fans. Zekmyr and Ming both deserves lots of prop for good sports that are willing to spend more than 24 hours out of a long weekend on the road.

Speccing Idolmastery

It’s expensive. So expensive.


It makes me want to cry. Chasing after these real things are worse than chasing after tornados or hurricanes, but probably more plesant. It costs airfare and pricy hotel spaces and friends and putting off what you ought to be doing for what you want to be doing. Sucks that they aren’t even that real. You can truely witness the awesome power of nature under a nice storm, but here you have a highly produced entertainer. Or someone who is only really good at what she or he does, and it just happens not to be a guest at an anime convention.

Every summer I hope “Okay, this year I’m cutting back on cons!” But for the past 5 years it just hasn’t quite worked out that way. To that extent I really just have to thank certain groups, like Geneon and Otakon guest relations to be able to deliver what I long to see.

The sad reality is that cons are time consuming and it cost a lot of money to go to them. It’s kind of worth it to take a vacation weekend every year, but 3? 4? I don’t know. Maybe I’m just a poor boy. But then again, it takes a whole weekend; rich people tend not to be free of a lot of those either.

This weekend (hopefully when you’re reading this) I’ll be at Anime North 2006 to enjoy a KOTOKO concert, and to hang out with friends. If I’m lucky I’d have scored some cheap Chinese food and met some new people. If I’m even more lucky I’ll truely, truely enjoy the convention. That is what I am after.

Partly Passionate Past

It is hard to part with the past.

Robin Sena

Especially when it makes a great story that others enjoy hearing. This is the story of Robin Sena for me. Often times when it’s playing on the screen, I just look blankly and smile. Thankfully I rarely see her on TV.

Oldies are goodies sometimes, when what the old stuff evoke isn’t some higher power brain function but a simple emotional response. It makes us turn into little kids. It’s quite different than what I think is “moe” or what is plainly attractive or sexy. This feeling is layered, seasoned emotion. You taste euphoria by remembering how it was euphoric. It’s like ABC gum, but the flavor never goes away. Or Star Wars: A New Hope. Or lazying around with some old friends doing nothing.

Or is it? I think when I rewatched Witch Hunter Robin last week as it was being rewatched by someone else (does that make me a mere by-stander?) I realized this show, vintage 2002, is really well done even by today’s standards. Maybe that’s just me watching my own DVDs for the first time (at least, the first time I remember it) and all I can mostly remember is my first impression from the off-air digisubs that made me a believer, but aside from the awkward lines here and there by the animator team trying to do Shokou Murase’s designs justice…it looked really nice.

I think all fans have memories like these that make them the type of fan that they are. Come to think of it, the gothloli fad was making its way just about then in Japan in force. Maybe I have this show to blame for my strange, elegant slant. In a way this is really the kind of idol-effect that I really need to be aware of. Naturally what I adore, I praise and follow…

It all makes sense. Genres are pioneered by massivly popular hits into the mainstream. Gateway drugs-type experiments open the door to greater differentiation and diversity (and more gateways) when they’re successful. We all have to thank Astro Boy? What and who is responsible for all the lolicon in anime? If we can trace it, that is.

Sitting Pretty & Slacking

Yurika Doujima: …
Robin Sena: …
Yurika Doujima:


HD does this regularly, and it’s rubbing off on me. I hope this is the only kind of thing that does, and the only time I do it. But here goes: an excerpt of my NYC Manhattan shopping guide or what I did last Saturday.

Golden Triangles Everywhere

Speaking of triangles, East 41st and 5th, 45th and Madison, and the Rockefeller Center are the points that form my main shopping triangle in midtown Manhattan. It’s not that you can’t get good stuff elsewhere, but these places are where you’re going to get anything authentic at all with a real selection in the city, AFAIK.

Personally I like the Bryant Park area–free wifi, a Chipotle near by, and the home of a freaking large library. On top of that, it’s conveniently located between Time Square and 15 minutes by foot to Penn Station. Well, most of midtown are all close to each other, so that’s not something that special–it’s like saying there are Starbucks near it (which there are).

Well, who am I kidding. I like it because Book-Off is right next to it. It’s nice when Japan’s largest used media chain opens a store in the middle of the city (inside a half-block of other Japanese establishments). And I stress “used.” You can actually pick up a lot of used English-language stuff there; all kinds of books and CDs. I was close to picking this up for $3 today, for example. Book-Off, despite its fair inventory, is very much hit-or-miss when it comes to looking for a purchase-worthy CD or DVD (let alone a particular one you want). Its main strength lies in its superb manga collection–easily the largest Japanese-language manga depository in the greater NY area. Nonetheless because everything is used, it is super affordable. God bless the First Sale Doctrine. I think almost half of my import CD collection is from Book-Off. I snagged nice CD sets or that super-rare Out-Of-Print CD more than once. I think I spent a good amount on artbooks as well.

From East 41st it’s a brisk 5 and a half block uptown to the reincarnated Asahiya. In 2003(?) Asahiya’s old storefront in Manhattan closed down. However when it reopened mid-last year, I didn’t find out until earlier this year; a pleasant surprise it was indeed. The new Asahiya is located off Madison, which is way better than their old location off Mulberry, right next to Grand Central. That said my last shopping spree I took a different path, so we’ll revisit Asahiya after I hit up Kinokuniya.

Kinokuniya at Rockefeller Center has been a landmark for many years now. The walk up 5th from 41st takes you through some of the more glamorous shopping areas in midtown, which includes both a CompUSA and a Best Buy; two Borders; plus God-Knows-How-Many caffeinated beverage vendors and apparel stores. That said, Kinokuniya is much like Borders; it seems kind of lame to get your anime/manga/music fix there. Well, it’s not so bad. Kinokuniya is the largest corporate B&M vendor out of Japan after all, and being such a flagship symbol in midtown they’ve recently (well, for a couple years now) retooled their store to have a strong anime media focus. Well, it is a fad in the States, right?

That’s all good for me. Kinokuniya has probably the largest import artbook selection now (and as hard as I looked, never a copy of Flamboyant; but they have a couple of those coveted(?) Sphere++ for $47 a pop…). Blah. What’s more interesting is that they do make an effort to stock at least all the latest jpop hits, plus some of the more mainstream offerings (which made the Joe Hisaishi fan I shopped with splooged quite a bit) like a healthy dose of new game music and anime CDs from shows on the air (I didn’t know Re: Surface was used in Yakitate Japan! for example). Plus what you’d expect from a Kinokuniya in terms of Japanese manga and books, it also now carry a healthy selection of domestic anime and manga.

Kinokuniya still is a good place to shop despite their ridiculous prices. At the least, if not only because Asahiya charges more. However, when I was looking around at Asahiya, I felt the need to take a couple pictures just because they were total Kodak moments. First, I found a new copy of Masami Kobushi special edition. That may not be a big deal, but to me it is about as shocking as seeing your favorite musician’s picture on the wall of a restaurant you’re patroning for the first time. And it’s not just a picture, but it’s a picture of your favorite musician in a pose with the establishment’s owner. Complete with autograph.

I think I might have downplayed that analogy by quite a bit, but you get the idea. It’s way notable than finding the new Eureka 7 albums there (which was quite notable)–I didn’t know The Best Of came with a DVD (and ZOMG, goodies); and I was nigh close from buying OST2…I guess eventually. What’s probably just as shocking was seeing this. I guess this makes me an official Nana Mizuki convert? Or just to make the truthful statement that pirating mp3s make me end up buying them? Something in between. I guiltily paid for it, with little comfort knowing that the copy of Love and Bubble I picked up at Kinokuniya was $3 less than the one at Asahiya.

The other photo-worthy statement was just something words cannot describe. Typically all three of these stores are inhabited by native Japanese. You get the whole “Irrashaimase! Konnichiwa!” treatment as you pass through the door (at least in Book-Off). The cashier hands you your receipt and credit card with two hands and I get mistaken as a Nihonjin more than once. It’s often that Japanese housewives visit these places for leisure while their kids stew around at the children’s literature section. It happens that there’s a small TV playing Laputa (raw, btw) at the children’s literature corner at Asahiya, and there was a little boy about 3 feet away from the screen watching it. The TV was set up so it was embedded into a display so it looks like a part of a tree, and the display was set up to be a corner piece between two shelves. There are some carpeted steps (think of a swimming pool’s wading steps) leading up to that tree display. The boy (about 4′ tall) was kneeling on the middle step.

It was just messed up. Alas, words still fails to describe, but I tried. It’s a fateful reminder that worshipping materialism and anime is no good, even in fact that’s what we do often times. Don’t get too deep into it, even if culture programs us to!

Blogging 203 – Informational Virology and Introduction to Memetics


Life exists in more than just the mechanical – it exists as information as well. History is important as well as memories; not only these things constitute the sum of our existence as a civilization and as each individuals but it is a thing unto itself. People who shares your memory lives on in your memory when they pass away in a very sensible way. Generations after generations may have come and past but they leave their fingerprint on everything they’ve touched for the next generation. Indeed, humans live to express, to communicate with the world and each other. It is an innate desire to produce something original and imaginative. The same fundamental force of nature applies to writing. It’s one of the primary way to express, and people have done it for millennia. It’s important to realize that the moment you put your idea into words and wrote those words down, it is just the first step to breathing life into them. In today’s mass-media-saturated world, it is easier than ever to breath life into ideas. Take William Hung for instance…

But I’m jumping the gun. If you’re familiar with this train of thought you should know what I meant. Ideas live, good or bad. How it lives and how long it lives are other kinds of questions. Below, we’re going to focus on how it lives, through the study of memes, trolling, and the meaning of…meaning. How do these things help a blog is up to you to apply them. Hopefully I’ll have some simple examples to show you.

Memes. What’s so fascinating about the modern use of the internet and the World Wide Web is the proliferation of memes. I think we can trace them back in the days when most people use the internet for email and usenet. IRC had a big hand at growing some of the key memes we still see today, such as l33t-speak and other memes that exists in form. Email and usenet memes tend to exist in the substantive, OTOH, as chain letters, things you email your friends because it’s a funny read, or even simple pyramid schemes.

That’s not to say, though, that meme didn’t exist or proliferated prior to the internet. What is special, however, is the internet’s ability to connect people not by geographical proximity but by thought proximity. When you look up something on the internet, odds are you are also thinking about it. Perhaps you are even interested in whatever you’re looking up–news, sports, a TV show, whatever. Odds are the funny email that got forwarded to you was sent by someone who thought you would apperciate it, or because you’re on a mailing list regarding something you are obviously interested enough to sign up with in the first place.

Memes, in short, are mind viruses. It’s a bit of a stretch to call them viruses, when in reality they are unitary ideas existing sort of like a virus–they sit just like every other idea on the text of a website. But when an “infected” person reads it, it triggers something which evokes this (relatively uniform and consistent) idea. When two people infected with the same meme communicate this trigger, they both will relive the meme. Furthermore, a meme by nature is replicative. Ideas by nature is diffusive and grows from person to person. A real meme, however, exists not just within the medium of communication (say, a sentence), but it becomes, in some ways, the medium itself (such as an allusion). Someone who doesn’t understand the meme, when confronted with a meme trigger, would ask for clarification and explanation, and the meme is passed on.

Memetics (the study of memes) is a relatively controversial and new area of study. For the most part academics look at it through the parallel of memes as organisms to microevolutionary mechanisms for biological organisms, but we don’t really need to go there. For our purpose we need to simply recognize that ideas that share much similarities tend to be accepted by people who already share other ideas that are similar (see memeplexes), and some memetic traits makes them more or less acceptable by other people, as well as changes the likelihood of replication of the meme both in terms of how fast it spreads and how long it’ll stay with us.

In detail, even if you and I are inundated by information everyday, only the ones we find interesting we end up remember, and fewer still are the ones we tell others about, or use in our writing. Schools and education is remarkable in that it innoculates us with a set of fundamental memes, from the ground up. However outside of that, and any self-learning that you do, not much will stick. What make these memes stick? What makes them worth propagating? How do different people measure this calculus in their heads?

Understanding memes is just one way to look at this age-old question, but understanding this framework yields some interesting answer to the same age-old question. We now turn to some real applications: Just what makes a good idea viable idea? Or in our application, how should we editorialize in the meta?

Trolling is just one of the many ways people use to pitch their ideas. However, a troll’s primary distinction is to rile up a reaction, not so much to pitch an idea. The subtle troll thus is one who shapes a meme through creating that allergic response a normal person has against trolling. It’s partly why Rush Limbaugh or Jack Thompson get their minutes of fame. More importantly let’s see how a memetic framework explains the power of trolls.

There are several ways why trolling is a powerful way to send out your message in a nutshell. Crafty writers all do this when they want your attention (the first and foremost element of a good blog is one that people pay attention to). It’s an easy way to take a carefully constructed counterargument or lateral attack and make it entertaining and effectively communicated (both are helpful to make your ideas interesting and easy to understand). An emotional response is also highly memorable (for a lasting meme) and it tends to get people talking about it (fast replication).

On the other hand trolling is only best in moderation. Excessiveness has its place but generally it only works if you are already building a memeplex (ie. preaching to the converted) or expressing it for its own sake (artistic). Otherwise it is likely to be not taken seriously (people will forget it over time) and it gives other competing memes more leverage over it (basically, makes your idea much less persuasive). Another way to see how trolling works is in a Marketplace of Ideas framework: the way you market your idea (trolling) should be tailored to who you are selling it to. You can make more people buy a less worthy idea by marketing it better, than a more worthy idea; and alternatively you can market wrongly and cause the same effect, as well.

One of the important lessons about trolling is knowing your audience. Anyone who is an experienced writer can tell you that. It makes all kinds of sense. Don’t troll if your readers are looking for affirmation. Do troll if your readers are looking to hone their edges. Make your memes meaningful and on the same wavelength as who you want it to click with.

With that we’re coming back to the heart of it–meaning. To people who are looking at simple means-ends communication (for example, “how to fix my computer”), that is easy stuff. But for people looking for more, it becomes an increasingly complex if impossible task to give them something really meaningful in such a package that they not only understand it, but apperciate it. Education is valuable to society because it provides a format to obtain meaning to the questions people have. Religion and culture are valuable to society because it gives meaning to asking those questions. Friends and families are valuable because they help you answer those questions.

But don’t get me wrong. Meaning is optional. An evolutionary perspective would say that a meme that survives best is a meme that makes the person who it inhabits lives and teaches the best. In that way memes that relates to happiness, health, and relationships easily are the most successful and popular memes. Anime bloggers stand zero chance.

But do they? Medical schools, for example, teach all kinds of information that only highly educated and qualified individuals receive, and these doctors practice those information for people’s better survival and physical well-being. However very few people, relatively, knows any detail about doing a hysterectomy (the 2nd most common surgery for women in the US). Many more knows who William Hung is. Why? Is William Hung more meaningful? Not by any means.

However the fact remains that knowing how to do surgery is something droves of intelligent people would toil over for years (in med school and residency) in order to be able to actually practice it. In that sense, these med students and residents are asking a different question than those who knows about William Hung. Is logetivity and physical well-being more important? In the long run, no, obviously. But in the short run, it is fairly irrelevant.

In that sense, a successful blogger answers the right question. The answer is meaningful only because the question makes sense. I can talk about how wonderful Jesus is all day long, but it means little to someone else; however if someone ask me about Jesus I can answer their question and there is some meaningful communication going on. In other words, the blog needs to connect with its reader on a much more fundamental level before a meme can successfully be transmitted. Remember the very beginning of this dissertation? The internet is a powerful tool in this regard precisely because it allows people who are already in the ballpark to look for other fans in the same. People who stumble on your site are likely already asking the same questions you are asking. Take advantage of that.

At the end of the day, looking at memetics tell us that sound writing advices from ages past are likely to last simply because they work empirically, but a theoretical confirmation helps us apply these techniques better. Importance of network, especially, is highlighted by looking how memetics affect your audience base. It seems that when it comes to blogging, word-of-mouth or comment-linking seems to be the better form of dissemination of memes rather than, say, Google. In the ever differentiation of blogs how we ask ourselves and how we ask of our reader becomes the key in defining a blog being what it is, as an editorial ultimately asks questions. Trust your readers, and they’ll likely to trust you back if you have something to offer everyone.