Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Made in Abyss

The upper fifth of the Abyss

I was really looking forward to Made in Abyss after seeing the PV for the show, and not just because it had the word "メイド" in the title. I wasn't overly fond of the character designs, but the exploration theme of the story was extremely appealing to me.

The ongoing manga for Made in Abyss is authored by Akihito Tsukushi, and started it's run in 2012. I did not pick up the title earlier because I believed it was aimed at a younger audience due to the character design. Despite its look, the story gets pretty intense and unrelentingly grim at parts, so is definitely not for kids.

If the anime hadn't come out, it's possible I might have missed out on a great story for a rather superficial reason. It think this has taught me not to make hasty decisions about manga solely based on a single criteria.

I'm not sure when the last time an anime of this genre was produced, but the first thing that pops to mind is Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, which dates back to 1990.

The first three episodes cover the first volume of the manga, and do a good job of setting up the background for the adventure that is about to unfold. The Abyss is a colossal pit in the middle of an island that reaches over 20,000m into the earth. The town of Orth (Ōsu) has been built around the Abyss, supported by an economy based on recovering and selling artifacts from the Abyss.

During an expedition into the Abyss, our heroine Riko finds the robot Reg. Instead of turning him over to the authorities, she asks Reg to pretend to be human so he can be accepted into the orphanage school in which she lives.

It is not clear if all cave raiders are orphans, but Riko's orphanage is essentially a training center for cave raiders. We learn that it is a profession fraught with danger, ranging from predatory beasts to foreign agents, and the ever looming "Curse of the Abyss" that can prevent you from ever returning to the surface world.

The Curse of the Abyss reminds me of an element
from Jeff Long's novel The Descent, in which
humans who spend an extended amount of time in
the sub-planet start to undergo changes in
physical appearance.

One day, belongings of the legendary Lyza the Annihilator are recovered from the Abyss. Lyza is Riko's mother, and a cryptic message saying "I’ll be waiting at the bottom of the Abyss" is found among the documents.

Riko takes the words as being personally directed to her, and accompanied by Reg, decides to go find her mother in the depths of the Abyss. I have high hopes for the series.

One other reason that I am interested this show, is that back in the day, I started writing an adventure for the BRP system based on exploration of a giant vent in the ground that was surrounded by a city that owed it's prosperity to the goods obtained from deep under the earth.

I didn't do more than flesh out the first couple of levels, but if I ever wanted to revisit that particular idea, I can pretty much adapt Tsukushi's material for the game.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

AX 2017

Once again, I've attended Anime Expo over the 4th of July weekend. This year, a Pre-Show Night with various activities was added on the eve of the convention.

We arrived at the L.A. Convention Center on Day 0 to pick up our badges and attend the Pre-Show. The line was pretty short, and moved rapidly so we were able to get our badges in probably under 10 minutes.

The queue to get into the Convention Center was not too bad, but I was held up a bit as a security team leader decided to use my cosplay prop as an example to explain to the screeners about what was allowable into the hall.

Once inside, I went to change into one of my maid uniforms. I was planning on trying out some poses with a nifty prop nodachi I modified to represent Konpaku Youmu's sword, Roukanken (楼観剣).

I was going to dress as Youmu the following day for a Touhou cosplay gathering, but hadn't figured out what poses I could do that would look good.

A surprising number of people asked me to pose for pictures, and it dawned on me that in all the time that I've been doing cosplay, I actually had very few pictures of myself dressed up and posing at conventions, so when the lady at the Cospix booth asked me to pose for them, I did.

I'll probably regret this, but below are a couple of pictures of my cosplay.

Yours truly

大根足 (-。-;)

On Day 1, we arrived early even though we already had our badges because of all the trouble we had finding parking last year.

A huge line formed for getting into the Exhibit Hall, but not wanting to be part of the waves of people flooding into the main hall, we went to the Artist's Alley instead, and wandered through the lightly trafficked hall in leisurely comfort.

In the morning we had entered the Convention Center through the parking garage entrance, but by noon, the crowds outside had grown very large, and they were only allowing access through the main doors.

I heard that some people had to wait four or more hours to get their badges, which seemed on par with last year. Certainly the line looked similar, with people in a winding queue along Figueroa from Pico to Venice and around the corner down Venice and back.

Even with badges, people had to queue again to get into the Convention Center. Luckily, we knew of alternative routes, and were able to bypass the lines to get in.

Anyway, the following are some pictures from the Touhou gathering.

I didn't like the way I looked in my Youmu cosplay. There might be some not so bad pictures of me out there, but I had wanted to shed about 10 pounds in the months prior to AX, but I wasn't able to do it.

In any event, I don't think I'll stray from meidofuku again (or maybe I'll stay away from outfits that look better on those with a narrow silhouette).

I skipped Day 2 because of other commitments, but went back on Day 3 to see the Fujino Omori panel. There were no photos allowed during the panel, and I couldn't find any pictures of Omori to add to this post, but I guess that's not too surprising since he came off as rather shy.

A special signing event was announced, so I bought a copy of Sword Oratoria for him to sign.

Omori seems like a very humble person, and he got all flustered when I greeted him during the signing and addressed him as "sensei".

The following are some pictures of cars from the Itasha Alliance.

Saw this car driving down Figueroa.

The most I can do toward having an itasha.

The following are some of the cosplay pictures I took.

Kotori, Rin, and Nico with LED skirts
(the lighting effect isn't captured by the picture)

Essradi as Celestia Ludenburg

Asuna, ALO ver.

Sinon, ALO ver.

Saber, Fate/Extra and Fate/Grand Order

Maid Saber and Jeanne d'Arc


Card Captor Sakura


Remilia Scarlet


Chaika Trabant

Mr. Data

The Dark Knight watching over the con

Though there was not much in the way of guests or panels that interested me this year, I still had a good time. I met and talked with a lot of great people, and was able to avoid many of the problems that I ran into last year. I'm looking forward to next year.