Thursday, August 15, 2013

Piano Cover: Rage On (Free!)

Once upon a time, there was an innocent little YouTube video, put together by Kyoto Animation to demonstrate its awesome new water-animating skillz. Unfortunately for video-kun, who just wanted some peace and quiet, the Internet was taken by storm. Legions of fangirls and fanboys celebrated KyoAni's foray into the world of delicious manservice, and dubbed the content "Swimming Anime." When it was finally discovered that Swimming Anime wasn't, in fact, a real show but only a demo, the resulting cries of grief and frustration were deafening. Overwhelmed by the pure volume of fan reaction, KyoAni finally relented, and announced that their new show Free! would begin airing in July. Cue the Internets going wild.

Or something like that.

The butt-slap that started it all.

Along with seemingly everyone and their great-aunts, I began watching Free! when it began airing in July (which was marginally awkward since I was visiting family in China). I don't know what I expected from the show, but one thing's for certain: KyoAni certainly didn't shy away from the fanservice, and Free! has been chock-full of shirtless dudes and near-yaoi moments. I really admire shows that are unapologetic about the content they're showing, and Free! is about as unapologetic as they get. With all the ridiculous female fanservice in the anime market, Free! comes off as almost tongue-in-cheek in the way it reciprocates it on the men.

I guess I should mention the backlash-from-dumb-people that the show got, but I'll direct you to my friend's blog post for all matters concerning that bit of controversy.

Oh, what's that? I'm supposed to talk about the music at some point?

To be honest, I can't say the music in Free! is the best I've ever heard -- though the ending sequence might be the most absurd (-ly awesome) I've ever seen -- but I still wanted to give the OP a try. The rock style of the song isn't the type of music I'm used to arranging for piano, but whatevs. :P Here is my attempt at covering the opening for the Swimming Anime:

Rage On (Free! Iwatobi Swim Club OP): Piano Cover

Date Completed: 2013-07-27
Software: Audacity, Sony Vegas
Number of Takes: 18
Instrumentation: Piano

Although I doubt Free! will find its way onto my best-anime-of-all-time list, it's definitely been an enjoyable ride so far. If you're curious, give it a try; I'd be interested to hear what you think! Here, have some Matsuoka Gou for good measure. :P

See you next water time (wut),


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Cosplay Interlude: Anime Central 2013

About three months ago (yayyy for being on time), I had the pleasure of attending Anime Central 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. With nearly two years (lol) of anime experience under my belt, I found this con experience even more exhilarating than Animazement 2012. The more shows I've watched, the more I enjoy and can identify with everyone at these conventions. Or at least, that's a pretty convenient excuse for me to watch even more anime. :P

As always, I went to this anime convention with a group of wonderful friends, and we decided again to attempt some group cosplays. After juggling numerous options for the full-group cosplay for the five of us, we finally settled on the fantastic 2010 show Katanagatari. In particular, we decided to cosplay characters from the Maniwa Ninja Corps, a group of hapless villains (of questionable degrees of actual malice) who inevitably get slaughtered over the course of the show's twelve episodes. For my character, I chose Maniwa Kamakiri, the mantis-themed ninja of the Insect Squad who meets his fate during episode 4.

Kamakiri's costume was definitely the most intricate I've ever attempted; completing it involved the help of several friends and multiple late nights, and it was definitely often a struggle. Nonetheless, I was able to pull off something passable in the end, and I've definitely learned a lot about cosplay (and particularly sewing) in the process.

(1) Maniwa Kamakiri of the Insect Squad: the green guy on the left.

(2) Some concept art of Maniwa Kamakiri. The final design was a little different.

(3) My Maniwa Kamakiri costume. Photo credit to Chou-Wa.

Unfortunately, Katanagatari wasn't quite as popular as I thought it might have been, what with the re-air and all, and there weren't a ton of people who recognized us. Nonetheless, we scheduled one photoshoot for the group with Chou-Wa Photography, whose photos can be seen here. However, the best part of the Katanagatari-cosplaying experience was undoubtedly the meetup. Although we'd arranged on the forums to meet up with another group of two Katanagatari cosplayers, it still didn't prepare me for the excitement of actually meeting other cosplayer-fans. (I think there was an even greater sense of camaraderie since our source material was relatively obscure.) We took a ton of fun photos, and were even lucky enough to receive a free impromptu photoshoot from the amazing M1photo, who was himself a Katanagatari fan. You can see the photos from our shoot with M1photo below.

(4) The whole Katanagatari group! Photo credit to M1photo.

(5) Compilation of individual character shots. Photo credit to M1photo.

Apart from the Katanagatari cosplay, I also put together a costume from the horror anime Shiki in a two-person group. (Photos for that costume are still pending, but I'll put them up as soon as they're sent to us.) Cosplay aside, however, the highlight of the convention was certainly the Kalafina concert (see my review). I've been fond of Kalafina ever since I heard the Madoka ending song Magia, and seeing them perform in person was nothing less than magical.


As always, I'll end this post with a bit of photo-vomit. I didn't actually take too many pictures this time around so there aren't many, but feel free to check out my Facebook album here if you're interested in seeing the complete set.

(7) Our cute lil' Maniwa Corps headpieces. :)

(8) Super Sentai Gokaiger!

(9) Our whole group! Cosplays represented: Shiki, Adventure Time, Shingeki.

(10) Ergo Proxy!

(11) The cuteness of HomuHomu knows no gender boundaries.

(12) Artist working live on chalk art. T'was ridiculously impressive.



(15) Some R&R with the Maniwa gang.

(16) A Mirai Nikki group! #represent

(17) Katanagatari photoshoot, in which Nanami MURDERS US ALL ._.

(18) Mufufufufu

(19) The completed product of the aforementioned chalk art. Beautiful.

(20) Mahou Meganekko Madoka Magica XD

That's all, folks! Don't forget to say hi if you're a fellow Anime Central 2013 attendee!

Until we meet again,