Friday, 29 January 2016

Review: The Visit

I was meaning to write this as soon as I watched this, the best M. Night Shyamalan film I have seen to date. He brought us great films like 'The Sixth Sense', 'The Village' and terrible films like 'The Last Airbender'. This film follows kids Becca and Tyler who go on a trip to visit their estranged grandparents. Their mother ran away from home many years ago and refused to make amends with them, however one day the grandparents request to meet their grandkids. So while the mum and her boyfriend go on a cruise the kids go to visit the farm.

It was a great start showing single mother explaining bits of her past to her children and not being able to come to terms with her childhood at the farm and struggling to talk about it. However Becca decides she wants to go in order to restore her mothers severed relationship with her grandma and pop pop. Armed with a camcorder the two kids happily travel into the stix where there is barely any internet or life.

Not being to keen on amateur filming this film however revealed lots of errie atmosphere where scenes worked out perfect from the kids perspective rather than the normal view - hiding the reality. The grandparents really have their quirks whether it be grandmas's senile ramblings, and odd requests fror Becca to get into the oven to clean it or pop pop always going into the mysterious shed out back.

One of my favourite scenes is when the kids decide to crawl under the house and play almost hide and seek but grandma appears and chases them out. This reminded me of scenes from the game Project Zero, crawling in close confinement and being unable to escape. When the kids mention this on skype to their mum she exclaims this is how she used to play as a child, passing it off as 'normal behavior'. With the mother condoning all the bizarre behavior I began to feel uneasy about the whole arrangement as Tyler does.

One of the rules of the house was never to leave your room after 9.30 as strange things occurring, noises, screams, scratching. Tyler encounters what looks like naked Grandmama crawling on the floor. Things don't add up and Becca reluctantly films the occurrences in the night and eventually gives in to Tyler's notion that something isn't quite right with their grandparents.

It is the day before they are to return home that Becca tells her mum to come pick them up early as something isn't right and puts the web cam on the grandparents standing outside, mum drops the bombshell of 'That''s not my parents." Yes they have been living in a house with two complete strangers lying about everything. This also explains the lack of photos and grandma trying to break the web cam. This has alarmed the kids and they pretend that nothing is wrong and try riding it out till mum comes to their rescue.

This film has some shocking scenes and a real plot twist and I urge you to watch the film for it's black comedy. Shyamalan has produced and written a well though out story and witty script for the children who steal the show. Also great baking is displayed and made me wanna eat cake till i bloated into Fat Princess. Recommended for people who appreciated 'Drag me to Hell'.

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Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Review: Dragon Ball Z: EXTREME BUTODEN

The caps lock in the title was to signify the manly screams of the Dragon Ball franchise. If you are new to the DB series then you have missed out on a long history of shounen manga spanning over 325 chapters which was then adapted into anime (dubbed into several territories over the world) and then into  games and animated movies.

The story follows  a child on earth is found to have incredible strength and later grows up has a family and searches for the mysterious Dragon Balls which bring your wishes to life. Later, aliens arrive and believe his is a missing member of an alien race and Goku is one of a rare breed of Saiyans.  Dragon Ball Z follows Goku’s adult life and his son Gohan and his other companions.

Dragon Ball Z Extreme Butoden is set at the start of the DBZ saga which follows the direct anime adaptation you may have watched on TV many years ago. It is in the form of a 2D fighting game.

Story mode takes you through the DBZ story where you play as Goku and and engage with the villains and fight one round which dictates the story.  The moves are pretty straight forward and are virtually the same for every character except signature moves for certain characters. It’s almost impossible to lose whilst playing as Goku. Later in the game you switch characters and become young Gohan which makes things tricky.

All in all with the complete story mode including Hercule’s long winded story within , it can take up to 45 minutes to complete and then you have unlocked the majority of the game options.

You can also use old cheat codes from the snes days including unlocking Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan Vegeta, players can enter the following code on the title screen: XAB↓→↑YAR↓→↑A→R.

In total there are 25 playable characters and a few more available in Z-Assist that you choose ton come in to battle to help fight. The list includes Chi Chi, Bulma, Launch but the list does not include any Super Saiyan forms even have the Super Saiyan 3 versions. In comparison you have more assist character to choose from which seems to be rather odd.

Adventure mode is a bit more experimental as you can choose different characters and change the story but it is a but more technical than the story mode as you have conditions to meet.

You also have 1v1 mode and you can mix up your team which is standard for a fighting game. The best way to compare it is to Street Fighter, where you use your specials according to the character but proceed to button bash and occasionally if you jump up you are flying which doesn’t change the fighting style at all.

(Originally posted on Parallax Play)

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Wednesday, 20 January 2016

The Japan Foundation: The World of Shojo Manga

Manga itself is Japanese comics which cones in different genres, Shounen for boys and Shojo Manga for girls’ or ‘girls’ comics’– is a genre of Japanese comic books that has a history spanning many decades in Japan.

Shojo Manga – often translated as ‘comics for girls’ or ‘girls’ comics’– is a genre of Japanese comic books that has a history spanning many decades in Japan. Shojo Manga features stories following girls falling in love, whether it sweet love stories, anguished romances and girls facing real-life issues in different genres. So the stories could be set in a fantasy realm, space, period drama  or based on mythical times.

We had Associate Professor Nozomi Masuda, Konan Women’s University, from Japan, come to talk to us about the subject and importance of Shojo manga, at Foyles bookshop in the heart of Westend. Tracing the origins of Shojo Manga from its beginnings in girls’ magazine as an extra, journeying to full anthologies. One thing that has stayed the same was the significance the genre in Japanese society, and what it has been expressing over its diverse and complex themes over the years.

The styles started very traditional in water colour, characters were drawn as very Japanese, dark hair, lines for eyes and no contouring on the faces to mirror the Geisha image. This soon evolved with Western influences, character faces grew less round, more shaped, noses thinner, skin colour changed from porcelain white to a healthier peach glow. Most importantly the eyes, grew large which was iconic to Western images and then the hair color grew lighter from browns to golden blonde.

Following the presentation from Professor Masuda, Retro Shojo Manga artist Eiko Hanamura, one of the pioneers of Shojo Manga, came on stage and led in conversation by Comica founder, Paul Gravett, and Professor Masuda. Together they discussed Hanamura’s work, reflecting on her illustrious career of over half a century in the Manga industry and how much creativity she had. She starts by saying she was an artist who could not find any work so a friend recommended her to become a manga artist it's all the rage. She tried and people loved her art but she really didn't understand the appeal but carried on. Thus began Hanamura’s commercial art domination. There were set rules to follow to begin with. 

She was given a summary and the girls almost always had a novelty theme 'Nurse in love or 'Air Hostess long lost love'. Even though she followed these cheesy story-lines for a while she was able to pitch her own ideas such as having detective stories which was received very well and given full volumes dedicated to them.

 She also talked of her shock as the phenomenon of Shojo Manga grew and grew and she was attending parties with all the top artists and yet not feeling as one of them. She didn't understand why people loved her art so much, it was being featured on covers of note books, stickers and recently now brought back collaborating with makeup brands. Hanamura not only had a flair for art but fashion also and explained they didn't have tv or fashion magazines, it was what they made it and all her designs came from her imagination and her outfits were creative and very bright.

She recalled a story of her and her daughter going to the Louvre as one of her art pieces was showcased there, she felt embarrassed it was surrounded by amazing art pieces but people came up to her and commended it and she was invited to exhibit again. This time they wanted the whole show for her art alone. Humbled and again so modest about her work she shrugged "Why do they want to see my art in France?"

After the audience got a chance to ask questions, one which really aroused contemplation was 'Why is it early shojo manga characters had large eyes with star patterns ?'. Hanamura paused and said 'That's a good question.' It was a period where girl had big dreams and the stars represented the hopefulness in the youth of that time. Now the stars have dissapeared from shojo manga eyes, perhaps the dreamy nature has gone?

I was interested in finding out what Hanamura though of contemporary shojo manga. She responded with, since everything is all digital (rather than hand drawn as her manuscripts were) the faces all tend to look the same by each artist like cut and paste. She then lamented on a lot of her original art being lost and having no copies and that would literally be it, starting from scratch.

At the end she was given a standing ovation and people were invited to stay have a drink and some snacks and meet and greet with other fans and Ms Hanamura herself. A few hardcore fans had conversations with her and the translator and Ms Hanamura was suprised by the positive comments on her work and overwhelming want for her work translated into English. It was a amazing moment to shake hands with a lady who inspired so many ladies dreams, influenced childhoods, filled people with beautiful dreams.

This was one of the most engaging talks from the The Japan Foundation I have attended and I look forward to the next guests they invite to talk in future events. Join their mailing list for more information.

For more adventures into the cat kingdom, conventions, Japanese culture and gaming follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2016

The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme 2016 has kick started the year with some great movies for people to watch to educate themselves in Japanese culture. This years theme is IKIRU: The Highs and Lows of Life in Japanese Cinema.

Running  from 5 February to 26 March 2016, the first stop is London ICA, the ICA is particularly one of my favourite cinemas as they are tucked away in between Charring Cross and Piccadilly on the outskirts of a serene park. Inside a home to art exhibits, cafe, trendy bar, walk in gift shop and comfy cinema screens for lots of independent films.
The Japan Foundation added two anime's to the list due to popular demand and here are the titles:

Anthem of the Heart

We follow Jun Naruse a young girl who believes her words have caused unmeasurable trouble. She is one day visited by a mysterious ‘Egg Fairy’ who casts a spell on her preventing her from speaking, stopping her from conveying her emotions. When she enters high-school, Jun is asked to join a musical – a group which turns out to be an unexpected mix of students all suffering from emotional trauma just like Jun. Through the key themes of friendship and music can will Jun be able to find her voice again?

A charming story from the creators behind the smash hit movie, Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day. The creative team of director Tatsuyuki Nagai, scriptwriter Mari Okada and character designer Masayoshi Tanaka return with a completely original animated film which was a huge hit upon its domestic theatrical release in late 2015, touching many hearts across Japan. (Distributed by All the Anime)

Miss Hokusai

A animation from the Keiichi Hara who, who's film, Colorful, the Japan Foundation screened previously. (Watch the interview with Keiichi Hara here.) Set in early Edo period, this animation brings to life the story of O-Ei, the daughter of the ukiyo-e master, Katsushika Hokusai (globally famous for his piece The Great Wave).

Based on the original manga Sarusuberi by Hinako Sugiura, an adaptation which Hara, a huge fan of the series, called ‘a dream come true,’ the film brings Sugiura’s comic and worldview to the big screen, creating a wonderfully detailed recreation of Edo life through combining hand-drawn 2-D with 3-D techniques. The film scooped three awards at the 2015 Fantasia International Film Festival in Montreal, including the Satoshi Kon Award for best animated feature film. (Distributed by All the Anime)

Here are also a few that have taken my fancy:

Uzumasa Limelight

An award-wining film telling the admirable story of Seiichi, a ‘kirareyaku’ actor whose main job in samurai movies is simply to be killed-off by the lead star. When the studio where Seiichi works decides to discontinue its samurai epics, Seiichi finds himself at a loss but hope arrives in the form of a young woman named Satsuki, who soon becomes his disciple.
Using Charlie Chaplin’s Limelight as an underlying theme, this film pays homage to the unsung heroes of Japanese movies filmed in Uzumasa film studios (Kyoto), Japan’s Hollywood. The semi-autobiographical performance by real-life kirareyaku, 71-year-old Seizo Fukumoto, who is said to have acted out 50,000 on-screen deaths, earned him the best actor prize at the Fantasia International Film Festival, Montreal, in 2014, with the film also winning the festival’s Cheval Noir for best film. (Distributed by Third Windows Film)

I'll Give it My All...Tomorrow

Fed-up forty-something Shizuo (Shinichi Tsutsumi) quits his secure job to become a full-time slacker, embarking on a reluctant pursuit to follow his true dreams. Despite now spending most of his time hanging around the house in his underwear playing video games and working part-time at a fast-food restaurant, Shizuo eventually comes to realise his true passion in life: Manga! Without much preparation or any skill, Shizuo starts working on his masterpiece…

Adapted from Shunju Aono’s popular manga series, this comedy by Yuichi Fukuda (the director behind HK: Forbidden Super Hero) follows the mid-life crisis of a loveable lazybones trying to find his calling. It will no doubt delight many aspiring manga writers of all stages of their lives! (Distributed by Shochiku)

Starting at the prestigious ICA London from 5th February - 11th February
Find the full list of movies and anime on the Japan Foundation website.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Review : The Danish Girl

This film has been rumored to receive many oscars, starring mainly Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander. Redmayne already famed for playing Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor, the BAFTA Award, the Golden Globe Award, and the Screen Actors Guild Award.

The Danish Girl is fictitious love story very loosely inspired by the lives of real Danish artists Einar Wegener and Gerda Wegener. We follow the lives Einar and Gerda's both artists within their own rights evolving in their careers and the interesting aspects of their personal life.

Einar is a famous landscape artist who often props up his wife for which she resents him as she believes she can be respected as an aertist without his recommendation. She focuses on portraits and one day she asks Einar to do a favour for her to wear stockings and ballet shoes to help her complete her ballerina painting which triggers a series of emotions in Einar.

Einar is not social-able and loathes art parties, even for his own work and would rather reside in his work or privately with his dominating wife. It is her dominance that brings to light Einars hidden side. Upon wearing one night a satin under garment she unearths a dark secret Einar has been keeping locked within his heart for years.

Einar is in fact struggling in a battle within himself as he has been unable to impregnate Gerda and has been suffering stomach cramps every month and having nose bleeds...similar to ladies periods. These motions tied in with a series of cross dressing antics bring to life Lili Elb, his alter ego if not his true self. Gerda after witnessing an emotional infidelity ends up supporting her husband or Einar's cousin as they introduce Lili to others through her mental anguish. After many diagnosis of perversion, schizophrenia they finally find an american doctor willing to preform a groundbreaking surgery on Einer, making him a transgender pioneer.

This film delved in deep into a persons psyche and I was quite suprised at how important art was and how art as a profession which meant everything to Einar was a reminder of Lili's past life. Einar the painter was now Lili the muse. What Gerda awakens in her husband, his true self Lili she now awakens Gerda's artistic potential. Gerda's portraits of Lili sell like hot cakes, and are exhibited in Paris and yet all Gerda longs for is her husbands embrace which is forever lost.

This film is for thinkers and I would not recommend for anyone under 18, my friends walked out very pleased with the film, I walked out feeling empty and sad. Happy or tragic ending, you can decide.

To follow my adventures at conventions, and to read my anime/gaming reviews and see general cat photos follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
^_^ Aisha Anime

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Pokemon: Symphonic Evolutions

For the first time in the Uk we had the themes from all the Pokemon games from the the first Red and Blue generation to the newest X and Y. Performed by the acclaimed Royal Philharmonic concert orchestra and conducted by Susie Benchasil Seiter.

All brought to us by the creative team behind The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses concert tour have joined forces with The Pokémon Company for a follow-up centered around one of the most popular game series in the world to the Hammersmith Eventium on the 20th December.

There were lots of attendees cosplaying as Pikachu, Pokemon trainers (including myself) showing their love for the series. The merch stall was bombarded by queues to get a t-shirt for £20 and poster £15. If you bought the poster you got to get it signed by the composer and some of the orchestra.

Some of the themes played are from the games listed:

  • Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue
  • Pokémon Yellow
  • Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver
  • Pokémon Crystal
  • Pokémon Ruby and Pokémon Sapphire
  • Pokémon Emerald
  • Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl
  • Pokémon Platinum
  • Pokémon Black and Pokémon White
  • Pokémon X and Pokémon Y

The highlight was the sing-a-long for the Pokemon opening to the first anime series, sadly a lot of the audience didn't know the second verse but the loud singing when the chorus came. Alot of my friends came than I expected, they were in the closet but at the end of the day it was apart of my generations childhood and I talk about Pokemon with pride in regards t watching it on TV and playing all the games.

A great event to enjoy for gamers and also people who appreciate the games and great orchestra music. I have attended the Zelda concert and not being the biggest fan but walking out in utter awe for the talent of musicians capturing the magic of the games. This concert was nostagic and emotionally moving, the feels achieved by the ending themes and footage edited together were wonderful. 

For more information on future tours check the website:

To follow my adventures at conventions, and to read my anime/gaming reviews and see general cat photos follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
^_^ Aisha Anime

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Hyper Japan Christmas Market 2015 Highlights

Photo by Storm Stewart
Hyper Japan Christmas Market 2015 had so much to offer, so much that a lot of the great acts were lost in the mishmash of updates but one thing was for sure there were great music acts such as; Lacroix Despheres, WING WORKS, TRy 1, Kuli Kala and the newest metal sensation Lady Baby.

Tabacco Dock being famed for having a large venue with endless rooms had a massive room dedicated to the Ai My Maid cafe where the maids and butlers served food and played games with people on the day. Before the cafe had officially opened they were greeted by a large queue of curious people who were new to the concept and left with a better knowledge of novelty cafes and with t shirts from their new range.

Being a visual kei fan it was refreshing to see Lacroix Despheres, preform (interview coming soon). After bumping into them on my way to the food stalls, I was amazed to see the transition from everyday to kitted out rocking their opera on stage.
Lacroix Despheres

One of my favourite random moments was walking into the hot dog eating contest and seeing a few of my friends on stage competing for the crown of sausage King (or Queen). Seeing the top three scores from three rounds being wittled down to three stop spaces which were 3rd 11, 2nd 12 and the winner eating a whooping 14 sausages, what a beat ! This was no other than one of my friends Arcadio (or Arcade as the host called him) and he was chuffed enough to get a free dinner than a prize on top which was a voucher for a free meal for two inn  a swanky restaurant in London. 
Arcadio ensuing sausage annihilation
Since I had consulted Hyper Japan to bring the newborn metal band to the UK as part to their tour, it was natural I went to the Ladybaby Uk Fanclub meet where I met up with fellow fans. There the founding members had made a birthday book for Rei. There was also a fan made banner which we all signed and and drew pictures on. One fan made birthday t-shirts for a limited number of members to wear and show their appreciation to Rei, sadly I missed out on the t-shirt but the fan gave me their single instead - I never have been so humbled by a kind gesture from a complete stranger. Thank you once again ! We also had one of the youngest members who later was lucky enough to go on stage and present Rei with a birthday rose - it was so adorable. Rei started crying from all the gifts the fanclub presented her. I stood proudly at the front with the other members cheering on the group. (More photos here)

Not everything went to plan at Hyper Japan like the fashion show which left poor fashionista Minori without a translator and poor organisation leading to models walking into each other on stage Let's see some of the good moments in this video including Sake Awards, fashion, stalls, performances and food.

Many thanks to Storm Stewart who Filmed and edited this.

To follow my adventures at conventions, and to read my anime/gaming reviews and see general cat photos follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
^_^ Aisha Anime

Friday, 8 January 2016

Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium

After a few years in existence and a fully booked schedule with a three month waiting list, I finally got tickets to Lady Dinah's Cat cafe. On New Years Eve I took a chance and waited in hope for cancellations and there were ZILCH so I waited for VIP tickets to turn into normal walk in tickets and an hour and a half later - success!

Whilst waiting we inspected the menu and were impressed with the selection of fine cakes including Red Velvet, Chocolate and Mandarin, Banana cupcakes and even some vegan friendly choices. Being near Bricklane they even sold beigals with special fillings exclusive tot he cafe.

The cover charge is £6 which covers the welfare of the cats and anything you choose to eat is added on top. So you could indeed spend £6 and play with cats for an hour and a half.

  • There are rules to protect the welfare and safety of the cats which included:
  • Do not pick cats up and carry them around
  • Do not wake them when they are asleep
  • Do not feed them human food
  • Turn off flash when taking photos

Apart from that you are welcome to walk around the two floors and play with the cats. There were a variety of toys, handmade and just household objects that each cat preferred. Queen of the roost, Mew enjoyed taking rides by siting on Bubble wrap or fabric and being dragged around the floor. However due to her being rescued from an unpleasant home she is very nervous about humans touching her head. So as long as you let her smell your hand you are welcome to give her a back massage and pat her bum.

A real surprise was seeing a cat tail sticking out of a cat house close to the ceiling and then see a ginormous cat plodding around sheepishly looking for snacks, Wookie had been predominantly asleep through my session and showed face when he was peckish. He was definitely one of the shier cats but a cute (but large) tabby.

Alice one of the black cats took turns going to ever table and jumping up for treats, she didn't stop till she ate them all. After she played with her favourite string toy, which when not moving - causes her to panic and meow. This was the sweetest thing seeing and hearing a cat cry because she believes it is dead. My cats normally get bored and walk off. Alice demanded attention.

The crowd were a mix of couples, families with kids and mostly females enjoying the company of cats lounging around or sleeping nearby creating a relaxed atmosphere to be in. The staff were more than happy to tell you the cat's names and toy preferences and how to handle them so long as they were sleeping.

The merchandise was quite personalised with postcards with the resident cats faces including Wookie, Donnie and Petra. Cat sweaters in the window perfect for Christmas and some mementos like badges, stencils so you can have cat faces on your coffee !

Unlike Japanese cafes than can have up to 80 cats in venues this cafe had a modest 11, which did as they pleased and looked satisfied with the humans bidding to their needs. Cats tend to sleep alot so I do recommend coming in the mornings and late evenings for more activity.

Book in advance on the website:

Find more of my photos here.

To follow my adventures at conventions, and to read my anime/gaming reviews and see general cat photos follow me on Facebook and Twitter.
^_^ Aisha Anime

Friday, 1 January 2016

Happy new year - 2016!

Art by Robo-Craig -
We have entered 2016!

Let's have a look at what had 2014 brought us?

  • More Conventions outside of London 
  • Regular cosplay meet ups
  • Two cereal bars 
  • New UK idol groups
  • More Japanese movies distributed in the UK
  • More Anime movies on the cinema!
  • The demise of the Silent Hill franchise.
  • The rise of Suikoden series
  • Pokken announced to release in the UK (date tbc).
  • Regular Mayamada events involving gaming and creativity.
This is only a selection of things that impacted my life, feel free to post your favourite or most loathed moments from 2015.

May the new year bring you a step closer to your goals.