Hibari’s Hi 8: Top cosplay photos of 2015

Akemashite omedetou!  After an unexpected break, I’m back to recap highlights from the past year.  We’re going to start with a Hibari’s Hi 8 Countdown of the most viewed cosplay photos I took in 2015 according to Flickr.  I didn’t count panels since the focus is on the presentation and not the costume.

8. Tharja, Fire Emblem (Novachan) – AnimeFest 2015
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7. Star Lord and Gamora, Guardians of the Galaxy – Dallas Fan Days 2.0
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6. formal Green Ranger and Deadpool plus friends – AnimeFest 2015
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5. Daryl Dixon, The Walking Dead (Kevin Lewis) – All-con XI
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4. Major Motoko Kusanagi and Batou, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – Anime Matsuri 2015
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3. Kim Possible and Shego (AnnaMaria Bryant and Kyatto) – All-con XI
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2. Sailor Cosmos (Meg Griffin Cosplay) – AnimeFest 2015
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1. Frankie Stein, Monster High (Kyatto) – All-con XI
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Me review on NekoPOP

I reviewed Jin Akanishi’s full-length album Me, released this past summer, for NekoPOP.

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Akanishi opens with the sweet “Let Me Talk To U”. The child’s voice in the beginning is a reminder that this party guy is a family man too, and the inclusion of banjo gives the song a homey feel. The next song, “Good Time”, makes a perfect summer party anthem with its catchy beat and cheerful lyrics. “Miss California” is an instance where Akanishi has clearly been listening to a lot of American Top 40.  The whistling and guitars resemble the intro to Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger”.

Click here to read the rest.


Listening to:
“Let Me Talk to U” by Jin Akanishi

Me / Jin Akanishi
Jin Akanishi

The Mary Baskett Collection of Japanese Fashion

Last year, a special exhibit featuring items from the Mary Baskett Collection of Japanese Fashion opened at the Crow Collection of Asian Art.  The former Curator of Prints at the Cincinnati Art Museum discovered three Japanese fashion designersIssey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons, and Yohji Yamamotoon a business trip.  She began collecting and wearing their clothes, and in 2007, her collection made its debut in Cincinnati.  Although the exhibit has already closed in Dallas, you can enjoy some of the pictures I took and a bit about each of the designers.
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From left: Comme des Garçons A/W 2009/2010 dress, Yohji Yamamoto x Cyborg 009 A/W 2012 wool sweater and underdress, and Issey Miyake A/W 2010/2011 132_5 Dress

All three are well-known today for being fashion innovators, melding traditional and avant-garde, East and West.  When their designs first appeared in the 1970s and 1980s, Western critics were shocked by the oversized silhouettes, raw edges, and monochromatic palettes.  They introduced the Western fashion world to Japanese aesthetics and new techniques and have been fashion powerhouses ever since.

Issey Miyake made his debut in 1971 in New York and is known for experimenting with layers and space in his designs.  He created the infamous black turtlenecks that Steve Jobs wore, and he developed a new method of pleating fabric that made garments easier to wear and launder.  After “retiring” from design in 1997, he focused on textile technology, leading to the creation of A-POC (A Piece of Cloth).  Over a decade older than 3-D printing, this customizable  garment emerges from a piece of cloth that is cut into the finished product, no sewing required.
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This is an example of Miyake’s A-POC with the cloth transformed into a skirt.

Founder of Comme des Garçons, Rei Kawakubo founded the company in 1973 and is involved in all aspects of it.  Her clothes challenge the ideas of fashion and beauty with their raw edges and bulky shapes.  Until the late 1980s, she stuck to mostly black to bring focus to form and structure.  Comme des Garçons often changes styles each season, as Kawakubo constantly reworks her ideas.  This eccentric designer is thought to be one of the inspirations for Edna Mode from The Incredibles.
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The dress on the left is from the 2005/2006 Broken Bride collection and is a collaboration between Kawakubo and Christian Astuguevieille.

Yohji Yamamoto debuted alongside Comme des Garçons in Paris in 1981.  He too featured deconstructed elements, asymmetry, and a monochromatic palette.  His influences include both traditional Japanese clothing and the Belle Époque fashions, and he designs with the idea of making menswear look good on women.  In 2003, Yamamoto teamed up with Adidas to create his sportswear line, Y-3.
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The middle wool suit from Yamamoto’s 2006/2007 collection consists of a jacket, bodysuit, and skirt/trousers.

Throughout the exhibit were quotes from each designer about their aesthetic, which tended to challenge conventional beauty and design. There was also an area for those who have been inspired to draw their own outfits.
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Listening to: “DON’T STOP” by Tanaka Alice

akai SKY interview on JRock247

Recently I was able to conduct an interview with akai SKY, whom I saw at AnimeFest.

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How does Chasing Lights reflect how each of you has grown over the course of ten years?

Ryuusei: Our recording engineer remarked that our songwriting had really grown since Heart, Attack! [their second EP, released in 2013]. I think we’ve really grown in how we develop our songs, particularly in the area of arrangement and with this release, adding different backing tracks. Individually, I think the individual parts we write have all gotten stronger and show more of our individual personalities.

Umi: We’ve built upon our previous experiences and tried some new things with Chasing Lights that we haven’t done before. Every time we do something, we try to make it a little bigger and better using what we learned from the process the last time around.

Click here to read the rest of the interview.

Listening to: “Break Down!” by akai SKY

AnimeFest 2015 cosplay and panels

I debated whether I should write up a report since I only attended late Friday afternoon and Saturday.  That time was mostly spent reporting on their concert and helping the Ladies of Power and thus didn’t really have much time to experience the cosplays and panels.  I had planned on going Sunday but was too physically exhausted.  Trying to work normally at your day job and do a con was not the greatest plan.

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Maybe next time I’ll join the party…

Friday was mostly to get registered and see if I could catch Arina Tanemura, one of the guests of honor.  The former happened very quickly while the latter was a no-go.  There was a ticketing system for the animation guests of honor, which makes sense considering anime’s and the convention’s steady rise of popularity, but it was not communicated well at all.  I did get to attend Stephanie Young’s panel, “The Vixen’s Guide to Voice Acting and Life”.  She did a great job of tying in her body of work to female archetypes in order to dish out a bit of life advice. As I said, Saturday was devoted to work, but first I had photoshoots.  The Metal Gear Solid photoshoot was a lot of fun.  Many of my peers comment on how old they feel at AnimeFest.  While that may be true, the Metal Gear Solid crowd definitely had a higher median age.

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This shot was dubbed “Evolution of Snake”.

If you missed the Ladies of Power panel, then you missed the opportunity to score some free prints.  You can purchase some at ladiesofpower.storenvy.com , and all proceeds with go to charity.  It was great to see people support female empowerment and to advise the younger ladies on how to deal with difficult situations that they may face.

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Lady of Power Meghan as Sailor Cosmos

The con made me realize how out of touch with anime I’ve been since I could not recognize many of the cosplays.  At the same time, there are always classics, like Sailor Moon and Pokemon.  Speaking of which, I’ve noticed a steady increase in the number of Eevolution cosplayers and art.  It’s really interesting to see people’s interpretation of the Pokemon.

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Umbreon, Sylveon, and Eevee by Emily Page

AnimeFest is experiencing some growing pains, which can be extremely frustrating.  However I do appreciate that they are taking the time to ask for feedback and that they have expanded their panels to encompass more than just anime (my friend Kyatto did a panel on whales that was very popular).  I also am very glad for the volunteers who are stationed to help out with the A/V equipment and give five minute warnings.  I don’t think I ever thank con staff a lot so here’s to those who keep AFest and other conventions together.

Click here to see the rest of my pics.

Listening to: “left to cry there” by DAZZLE VISION