Convention Recap: Akon 26 in Dallas, TX

First off, let me say “what a con!” I truly had a blast at Akon this year, so let’s recap the madness. It was about a 12 hour drive from Sioux Falls to Dallas. I actually really enjoy long drives, something zen about driving and gives me plenty of time to think about stuff.

I arrived at the con at about noon on Friday. Getting my badge was a painless process and I also met some of the con staff. I spent a bit of time checking out the con and getting reacclimatized to where everything is. I missed Akon last year. I also scored some autographs before my panel.

The time came for my panel on Friday night and it went really well. I got to show off my newly designed slides and the audience had a good time looking at some bad CGI and discussing what we all have and have not seen. (Picture of the attendees below)

I went to check out another panel, this one on podcasting, before taking off for the night and getting some rest before Saturday.

Saturday was a day full of panels and awesomeness. I met up with one of my friends and we attended a panel on translating manga. Little did we know, the panel head was also a translator who was going to be leading a Q/A session with Mitsuhisa Ishikawa, the “I” in Production IG. He displayed some unseen materials and promos from some of their works and answered questions about Production IG, the anime industry and anything else we wanted to ask. He was even so gracious to allow us to take a few pictures afterwards.


(Me on the left, Ishikawa on the right)

Production IG had some influential titles when I was first getting into anime. Ghost in the Shell was one of the first anime that I saw. This really was an amazing experience, and truly an honor to hear his opinions on the industry.

I attended a panel on voice acting, since I am looking for voice over talent. It was very informational since the panel was run by 3 different people and all came from different backgrounds, directorial, voice over for anime and voice over for gaming. Very cool stuff!

My friend and I grabbed a late lunch and checked out some more panels. One of which, was the Vertical panel on manga. They are the company that brought us the Flowers of Evil manga, which I highly suggested on this blog for just about anyone to read.

Sunday I allowed myself to be a little bit of a fan. I waited in line to get some Attack on Titan stuff signed by the voice actors. I went to the vendor room and picked up some merchandise, or should I say a mini library of art books. My love of art books may have to come in another post, but I picked up the following books.

Attack on Titan 1-4
These books contain the storyboards for several of the episodes and even show frame by frame drawings.

Kill La Kill
Admittedly, I haven’t actually finished this series yet but I had to pick up the book regardless. The show has such a unique style that I wanted to dive into behind the scenes content. I also haven’t seen this book anywhere before.

Terror in Resonance
I am excited for this show to be released at some point, but the overall design of this book was fantastic. I love looking at the background elements and seeing the hand painted detail. It even has a cool character flowchart to see how all of the characters are related to one another in the show.

Shinkai Collection
Speaking of sexy art books, the Shinkai book I picked up was fantastic. His artwork is simply stunning and again, the format of the book alone is worth a purchase.

I haven’t had a chance to really dive into all of these books, but as I get going through them I will get some comments or reviews of them up. I am eagerly awaiting Akon next year already.

And to the Akon staff, a big thank you for all of your work and planning!


Recent Viewing: Oblivion Island Haruka and the Magic Mirror

The only bright side of ever being sick is the fact that it allows one to sit under a blanket with juice and a stack of movies. On that note, I am going to provide a review of what I think is a must watch film called Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror. It’s a film that went rather under the radar in the states. I actually only heard of it due to amazon suggesting the title to me. So here we go!


Oblivion Island was released in 2009 from Production I.G. and licensed in the states by Funimation. First off the story has a very interesting plot/theme. The premise is, that there is a second hidden world which its inhabitants take neglected items in the human world back to their world. The main character, Haruka, sees one of these creatures (which look like a stylized fox) takes her keys that are sitting on a staircase. She decides to follow this creature and get her keys back. While in this world, she realizes that this must be where he childhood mirror she received from her mother as a gift must be. The quest for Haruka and the creature, Teo, begins in search for the mirror.

The settings of the film were very inventive. The portions that took place in the real world were all inspired by actual places. The creature world however had a cleverly built world out of borrowed items. For instance, there are several buildings that have surfboards for shingles. Many settings in this world have a feel as a cross over between a Ghibli film and a Pixar film. Lush ocean areas, islands and an underground are all scenes in Oblivion Island, even an underground moat made out of orange syrup. During certain shots of the film, it felt as if I was watching a video game due to the details in the environments crossed with camera angles.

One of my interests over the last year has been the use of CGI in Japanese animation, this film is almost exclusively 3D, which was one of the reasons I needed to see it. The film is very well animated and rendered. The characters skin does’t look plastic and the cloth and hair animate well. Nothing feels rigid or out of place that takes away from the film, Haruka moves around really well. As the other characters are as well. There was several shots that had a variety of dynamic systems in them, such as cloth, fireworks and more.

I thought the character designs were well done as well. They felt as if they were all from a video game which was really refreshing. Many of the characters wore masks, which were very unique and added to the mystic of some of the characters. The Baron character’s mask fits him very well, Haruka wears a mask at points that appears as its from a large baseball.

I highly suggest watching Oblivion Island. Especially if you are a fan of Ghibli and Pixar films. Overall the film has a very sweet story and well produced visuals. You can  actually watch the movie for free online here in either subbed or dubbed.


Recent Viewing- Loups Garous

I recently picked up a copy of Loups Garous from Sentai Filmworks that was animated by Production I.G. (Check out a clip of the film above). Loups Garous is pretty much your typical futuristic story with someone controlling a “system”. Based from a storyline perspective, it doesn’t really provide anything new and exciting. People have IDs that allow for you to be tracked and control your house, tv, etc. (basically a smart phone on steroids).

The conflict of the story revolves around the fact that someone is taking kids that lose their IDs. Since the world is constantly under surveillance, if you lose your ID the system can not track you and technically you don’t exist.

If you enjoy futuristic stories, conspiracy, and groups of people looking for ways to beat “the system” this is a decent title. If you enjoy UI design as well, there are many in this film with all of the touch screens and tracking. The film does have a pretty good sound track with a few catchy songs.

From an animation perspective it follows the current trend in Japanese animation. The characters are all hand drawn yet with other elements done in CGI. For instance, a futuristic city needs robots patrolling the streets, these robots are done in 3D. Also, since music has a part in the story, there are 3D animated characters that are on TVs and screens. Since these characters don’t exist in the real world, they animate them in a different visual.

There are many other areas in which they composite some really nice shots. Water has subtle waves that look really good and add a lot to the shot that have water in them. There are also various settings that are used created in 3D. While there isn’t really anything special about these things since there have been titles using these techniques for years, they are well done.

One things that kinda surprised me about Loups Garous is the art style in relation to the story. As you can see from the clip above, the characters are designed to look like a younger audience film. However, the story is darker than what the style would lead you to believe.

Overall Loups Garous was a decent anime film to check out. While it didn’t provide anything new or ground-breaking it did do the genre and animation well, which is just as important. New production update due out Monday.