All posts by flotsky

Manga on the iPad

Whilst I may have a bit of a wait for a digital version of Pluto or 20th Century Boys (the Manga I am reading voraciously at the moment), there are options available already to access some Manga on the iPad. NTT Solmare have been publishing individual mangas as apps on the iPhone for some time, and have now brought out their first iPad HD release, Always By Your Side/Solaruru. Their books are translated into English for the UK/US market, and anglicised so that the books read left to right, rather than the traditional right to left.

I’ve tried out this first release (it was only 50p, their usual price seems to have been about £1.79), and having read it, it’s a very simple tale of a ghost appearing in a school, and befriending a girl. There isn’t much to the story, I wouldn’t recommend it. And the translation is a little clunky, the text seems to have been placed in rather large font onto the page with little care. However as they’ve published 120 iPhone mangas, there is the potential they could publish something interesting to the English-speaking market in future. So I would suggest having a look at the iPhone/iPad stores, and searching for “NTT Solmare” to see if anything takes your fancy there, if like me you’re looking out for digital manga.

MCM Expo May 2010

This past Saturday found me at the MCM Expo in London, a massive collection of Manga and Anime exhibitors, cosplayers, comic authors, game previews and more. It takes place at the Excel Centre in London’s Docklands, and your first experience of the day is being surrounded by cosplayers on the DLR. I had been to last years show, but even so this in itself is a wonderfully bewildering experience. Perhaps even more fun watching the reactions of the other commuters on the train wondering quite why they are sitting next to a kid with foot-tall spiky hair and a four foot long sword.

Once inside the centre itself, you join the world’s longest queue to change your ticket for an wristband. It is fun being in the queue, seeing all the fantastic and not-so-fantastic costumes going by, but I could have had even more fun if they’d sent me an wristband instead of a ticket and let me go in straight away.

Inside the exhibition hall was a bewildering array of stalls full of everything Manga one could wish for. Being old and weary from my ultra queuing, I headed to the back of the hall for a nice sit down, which happily co-incided with the second half of the industry panel on anime. Very interesting to hear the British industry perspective on the state of the industry and their potential market for anime, which seemed to be a blend of slightly beligered mixed with a pleasing amount of optimism. An interesting question on their take on the Digital Economy bill brought a lot of responses, including the very memorable response on downloading from Manga UK: “People are used to doing it everywhere. today you’ve got people hanging around in costumes outside who won’t pay for a ticket, yet the organisers still have to pay to look out for them in case a fucking 10 foot carrot decides to top themselves”. On a more serious note all of them seemed refreshingly up to date and knowledgeable about how the Internet relates to their world (which from a business point of view hasn’t always been the most up to date always), with one of them pointing out “we have to offer as good a digital service as the pirates to succeed”. this holds so true in most areas of digital business, if it is easy to steal your service, you have to compete by making your legitimate business at least as easy, comprehensive and enticing to use as your pirate competitors (see iTunes for how mainly to do this).

I then moved on to watch an exhibition match by the wrestlers of the FWA, which was a pleasant surprise for me to see, especially as I thought they had gone bust a few years ago. They had, but this was them back together again, and hopefully heading in the right direction.

The important business for me of the day was making the most of both the great stock of the main publishers, and wandering through the comic village where many indie authors and artists sell their own comics. The latter is a great place to discover and browse comics you just might not find otherwise, and I picked up a good few new ones to try. I also picked up several volumes of Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys and Pluto, my favourite mangas at the moment.

Along the way I met up with some friends and had a good time touring round, chatting and enjoying being pointed towards new anime to try.

A good fun day in London all round, may well nip along to the next one in October.

UPDATE: Posts on the expo from other people I met up with there, Tim Maughan and Andrew Proom. Also met socialistgamer and Sheentaku.

Sci-fi London 2010 Manga All-Nighter

It is Sunday evening, and I’m now still processing all I saw last night at the Apollo cinema in London. A fantastic night of entertainment, liked some of the films, didn’t like others, but the overall evening, and the organisation deserves mentioning as being wonderful, everyone that set up the night deserves props for the hard work they did to make it such a good night.

Okay, props done, lets get to reviewing what I saw there. Let’s get the disclaimers out the way now, I really am not an expert on Anime, I’m just reacting to these films as a cinema goer, what caught my interest, what didn’t.

Redline

Blimey this was good. Redline is the ultimate car race of the future, held every five years. If I’m being harsh, it minded me of Rollerball, in so much as the races are everything, and the rest was filler just getting you to the races. But feck me they were stunning. Visual treats drawn in an amazing fashion, with a earbleed soundtrack, echoing through every inch of your soul. Nothing subtle about this, all action, all entertainment. Loved it.

Bleach 2.0

Not for me, bit weak. Mysterious bloke appears that bloke is a bit worried about, runs away, needs help to beat mysterious bloke, beats him in the end. Lots of battles, nothing outstanding in the animation, just didn’t engage me.
Musashi

This was odd, and in many ways very unsuitable for 4am in the morning. However it was very engaging for me, a documentary of a 17th Century swordfighter whose techniques laid the groundwork for what became the Samurai. Quite a lot of explanation of historic texts by essentially a Wii avatar. Strange, but it worked, because the source material was so engaging. When I have more energy tomorrow I’m looking up loads about this legend, because the detail just got to me. If you’re awake and up for a bit of learning, this will be even better.
Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works

Rubbish. Really bad. In wrestling, they have the term Spotfest where two wrestlers don’t link together a match, don’t work hard to draw you into an engaging match, they only concentrate on trying to do cool moves. This was a spotfest, but the spots weren’t that good. Everyone changed sides a hundred times. I’m told you need to know the anime to get it, know all the backstory, and this was entertaining fan service for people that know what is going on. Even with that in mind, this was just a load of spots, and ones that weren’t that good.

In summary, see Redline. Rocked my world.

Otakucookup – Green Thai Prawn Curry

400g Prawns (larger and fresher the better, shelled)
1 can Coconut milk
2-3 tablespoons Thai Green Curry Paste
1 lime
1 lemon
1 tablespoon Thai Fish Sauce
Small handful of cashew nuts
6 chopped spring onions

1) Fry the prawns for a minute in a little oil.
2) Squeeze in the juice of the lemon and the lime, and add the fish sauce, simmer them for a couple of minutes.
3) Bung in the cashews and the spring onions, and if you need an extra hit of spice, a little chilli powder too.
4) Now add the curry paste (2 tablespoons for newbies, 3 or so for if you’re used to it), and stir it well into the ingredients whilst frying for a couple more minutes
5) Finally add the coconut milk. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, and testing for taste towards the end once it is thickening up nicely.

Serve with white boiled rice.

This post is part of the #otakucookup as suggested by Tim Maughan of Tim Maughan Books, providing a useful service to hungry otaku everywhere.

Drop

I dropped my iPhone on the floor this morning. It is fine, I’m typing on it now. What occurred to me though was how underworried I was that it would be okay. I have dropped it before, on harder surfaces, and it was fine. I’ve got insurance. And it is close to being due for an upgrade.

In conclusion, I think I may be ready for parenthood.

Simon Cowell – Do More Evil

It’s always good to try and get yourself into someone else’s mindset. Try and see the world from their point of view. So today I was wondering What Would Simon Cowell Do? See, he took a little dent this Christmas, what with the Rage Against The Machine campaign. X-Factor stuff still earned him a pretty penny, but the public will have seen it as a small defeat for him, after so much success. Obviously next year, there will another attempt to do the same, it may even be a bigger defeat.

What to do? One could lick one’s wounds, take a pragmatic approach, be slightly more subtle. Just pick a better song than an insipid Christmas-ish one like they’ve done the last few years, that might work.

However I suggest a different approach. Balls out, pure unbridled evil, make a load of money, and essentially stick it in the face of the RATM protesters. Release every performance on X-Factor on iTunes the following day. I suspect it could potentially sell enough for him to have 12 consecutive number 1s, up to and including Christmas. He could take up all of the top ten in a week. I think it’s a horrific idea. However Cowell never went broke underestimating the desire of certain broad swathes of the public to buy any old tosh. Look at Robson and Jerome. They actually broke sales records.

Just imagine, rather than a world where RATM gets a surprise number 1, the British public has a load of half-arsed performances clogging up the charts for months. That would teach them.

Why I won't buy an iPad yet

Thought I’d ponder this a little while, give the product and the chatter a little chance to sink in. The iPad looks gorgeous. Pretty much a few weeks after I’d bought my iPhone, I knew I wanted the same thing, but somewhat bigger. I’m not a genius on this front, I know many people felt exactly the same. And now it exists, it looks right, and as one would expect from Apple, there are a few little twists that make it better than I imagined. Getting properly into the ebook reader market is one, an Amazon that works like the iPhone store is perfect. Price is another, if as it seems it comes in around the £400 mark, that’s a lot cheaper than I’d have guessed.

So why not buy one? Well, for me, the iPad is going to be a device I’d use sat in front of the TV. I’ve got an iMac for doing my own work, and for serious surfing. I’ve got a proper laptop for work. For the sofa surfing, I’ve got my trusty Acer Aspire One netbook. Now, the netbook isn’t the iPad, isn’t as lovely. But it does fulfill the same task very adequately, and I just don’t think I can justify it to myself on the basis of loveliness. If it breaks, and can’t be fixed, then I’ll happily buy it as a replacement, but there isn’t any other reason to get it yet. It doesn’t doing anything else over and above a netbook to me, so I’ll happily wait. By the time I need an iPad, it may be in a second generation. It may be cheaper. Most importantly of all, I’ll have the need for it.

Happy Birthday to Me

38 years old today. Great weekend to celebrate it, wandered round the Steampunk exhibition in town, then a nice walk around Oxford, followed by a cracking meal at Shanghai 30s. Scalextric was my main pressie, a fitting addition to a growing collection for a man of my advanced age.

Not really pondered too much the passing of time, tend to do that at New Year. This was more just mellow progression, like a smooth chord change, rather than the bells and whistles the change of year brings. If I’m looking for one thing though, did get thinking about getting out on the bike again, both for traveling to work, and for some trips further afield to take photos out in the countryside. Sounds like a plan.