Friday, March 28, 2014

Pro±Con 2014 Plans

Hello again!
Last year I wrote a blog entry that included a small convention I found three days before it was held in my hometown. Well, it's that time of year again and I'll be returning to Pro±Con again!
It will be slightly different than my average con, though. Why is that? Because instead of attending the maid cafe, I'll be working in the maid cafe! I'll only be working there for an hour, though. I have to take the time to get changed to participate in the costume contest, which seems to be a lot more organized this year.

Please come see me at the maid cafe, okay? <3

And the costume I'll be entering into the contest? I'm bringing back my Dark Woods Circus Miku (Deformed Diva) cosplay! I've been working on a blog post explaining the process I had to go through to return it to glory so hopefully I'll get that out very soon! I put a lot of work into it an I hope that it shows. Wish me luck, please! I can't wait to see everyone else's amazing costumes that I'll be participating beside. It makes me oh so nervous but it's so intriguing! The last time I was in a serious costume contest, some of the contestants and I shared techniques and it's a really fun learning experience.




I have high hopes for my time at the convention this year since I'll be participating in so much of it now that I know it exists! 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Cosplay Wednesday: White Mage

Hello! It's not Wednesday anymore; I forgot to post things up because I was working on a costume for a convention this weekend!

For Anime Weekend Atlanta 2013, I decided to take the route of comfortable cosplays. I wanted an easy cosplay to make since my other two were going to be time consuming. I had been wanting to do the Final Fantasy Tactics White Mage cosplay for a couple of years now; it was the design that I always liked best in the game.

The costume itself was very easy to make. It did require a lot more thread than I anticipated though (Since I was originally going to glue the triangles down but ended up sewing them about twice over. I also wanted to go with a brown staff instead of blue, just for aesthetic reasons. It was also a nice choice for a summery day; The fabric was really light and because of the structure of it, the air flows right through! (I would hate to wear it on a winter day though, yikes!) I also forgot my gloves in the hotel room, so I'll probably be taking more pictures of this cosplay sometime!




Reference

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Cosplay Wednesday: Beach Queens Kuroneko

It's cosplay Wednesday again! I hope you're used to me posting pictures on Wednesdays now!
The weather outside was really warm last week. I prefer the cold weather, of course, but I couldn't help but to feel like it was swimming weather! It got me in the mood to post up some older pictures of a swimsuit cosplay!

To be honest, I whipped this costume up a couple of days before the convention. A friend and I had an exchange about having a swimsuit photoshoot! Well, I love to play around in pools and I decided it would be the perfect chance to cosplay one of Kuroneko's alternate outfits. I love Kuroneko a lot as a character; I think she's extremely cute in the way she behaves!


Of course at the time, there was only one swimsuit costume of her's that was 'official'. It came from the Beach Queens line!









Unfortunately, inner tubes don't like to be painted so this was more difficult than I planned for it to be. I'd love to return to this costume after a few repairs though! 



Sunday, March 16, 2014

Journey to Japan (Part 2)

I woke up the next day much earlier than I have in years. It was about five in the morning and I thought I could get back to sleep, but the day ahead was exciting me too much. Instead, I showered and made myself presentable for the day. Spending the rest of the time updating friends and family about my adventures the day before, it eventually became time to set off towards Tokyo for a day of cat goodness.

This would be my first time on a train in Japan. The trains are notorious for being on time by the minute, and it held true for nearly all of the trip. The only times they were off was due to snow or incidents (Which could include a number of different things going wrong.) The train was pretty quick and arrived at Kawasaki, in Kanagawa, in no time. Here, I would have my first taste of Ikumimama's famous animal donuts! I got a tiger (pumpkin flavored), cat (plain), and shiba inu (chocolate glaze). They were really tasty. My only advice is that if you don't like almonds, don't eat the ears. The outside is crunchy like cold chocolate is crunchy and the inside is a little more stiff than a western doughnut but I understood that they would be different than western doughnuts when I planned on having them. I had these alongside the hot banana cocoa I had picked up from a vending machine in the train station. It was a very interesting drink; it tasted like someone had melted a chocolate covered banana and marketed it as a drink.


Ikebukuro


Visiting a book store and a 100yen store before taking a train towards the Seibu in Ikebukuro, I finally found myself looking at the KitKat store.

I think first I should say that department stores are very different in Japan. Here in the west, we separate our shops with rooms, four walls. In Japan, you usually don't have walls separating the stores in the big department buildings. You could walk into one store from another and not even know it! But it does make for a lot more space and therefor a lot more shops.
The KitKat store was no different. Well, except that it had a huge line! It was lunchtime, too, so we had lunch in hopes that the line would be shorter when we got back.

The lower floors are usually dedicated to food stalls. Since it was so close to Valentines day, most of the bottom floor was for chocolates and other Valentines day gifts. The second floor was to more meal like dishes. Some of the floors are dedicated to restaurants, and I stopped in for some Ramen. I'm not a huge fan of Ramen and this place didn't help it. You order your meal through a machine, much like a vending machine except you get a ticket. You take that to the counter and hand it over, they'll serve your lunch based on what you purchased. It requires no talking, which is really great for me because I can't speak the language. I had the first choice on the machine after it was recommended (apparently their most popular dish). It was thick cold noodles and a piece of pork on top. There was a separate dish for the broth, which you poured over the noodles. It didn't make things hot, it just brought everything to lukewarm. The noodles were very difficult to chew through! .・゜゜・(/。\)・゜゜・.

The meal was cheap though at about $3.

Then it was back to the KitKat store...Except the line was twice as long now! We decided it would be better to wait for Valentines to be over before trying to get in, so we left.

From here, it was a short walk to Nekorobi, the cat cafe.


Aisha
A lot of people I've mentioned cat cafes too have turned up their noses ("Wouldn't that be unsanitary?!") but it's really quite clean. It's not a sit down and eat cafe anyway. There's a single table in Nekorobi and two vending machines. One serves drinks and the other serves snacks and noodles. Once you pay the small fee to get in ($10 on a weekday, $12 on a weekend for the first hour ($3 more for each 15 minutes after that)), all those drinks and snacks are free. The focus isn't on those though, it's on playing and interacting with the cats. I met so many kitties while I was there and they all didn't have a care in the world.


You have to put up your things and wash your hands and change into slippers before you can even touch any of the cats though.  Kiyomori and Aisha were the two kitties that I spent the most time with. They were really sweet and we even got Kiyomori to play a bit! The people who worked there would make toys for the cats in downtime for them. I watched as the guy making each one tested it with one of their cats, judging how fun they thought it was, before finishing the toy and giving it to someone to play with the cats with.  There was this one cat named Bart who was in a bad mood; he wasn't ill tempered, no scratching or hissing or biting. He just didn't want anyone to touch him or to see anyone so he hid underneath the rug and it was really cute. Eventually people got him to play though.

Kiyomori

After I said goodbye to all of the kitties, I left for Akihabara. For those of you who don't know, Akiba is the place that many anime and manga and video game fans call home. It's filled with arcades, book stores, maid cafes, and general anime/manga/game stores. It also has a lot of electronics shops to visit. There's more, but these are the main attractions of the area.

 
Akihabara
Here, I got to visit my first arcade in Japan. They are several stories high and each floor is dedicated to a different kind of genre. The first floor was purely for UFO catchers (or crane games). It's not like just cheap plush toys that the company buys in bulk like it is over here. Instead, it's always something that has a name to it. Most of the stuff is from a video game or an anime. What seemed the most popular was Vocaloid stuff and Dangan Ronpa things. There are floors dedicated to fighting games, rhythm games, gambling type games, and the bottom floor is for women and couples only; It's the purikura (Photobooth) section! Here, you can take pictures and edit them to make you feel as pretty as you like. They also do costume rentals for free in most of the arcades I went to.

I also got to go to plenty of other stores; mostly book stores. But don't let them fool you, they have a lot of merchandise that aren't books as well. If you're a Touhou Project fan, this place is heaven. Touhou is huge in Japan and it shows. A lot of the products that I saw mentioned that they were sold at comiket, either last year or up to a few years before. Most of the things you'll see are doujin (self published manga/artbooks/games/music) as far as Touhou goes, but there will also be a lot of keychains and card holders. Other places will carry more Touhou music CDs than you could ever listen to in your life. Of course, the official manga, guides, games, and music CDs are always an option. Of course, if Touhou isn't your thing, there's plenty of other anime and game goodies to be found!


Lot's and Lots of Touhou

And Even more Touhou

And I ended my day with a dinner of curry (again) from CoCo Ichibanya. Mine was a plate of beef and veggies prepared as amaguchi (sweet). If you don't like spicy things but want to enjoy curry, then order the sweet version. If you do like spicy, though, their scale goes up to ten. Don't choose ten thinking this is western spicy because the spice levels are much different! Things in the east tend to be spicier than what a lot of people in the states are used to.
Curry is very tasty though, and CoCo Ichibanya's is my favorite Japanese curry so far. <3

I had to rest up when I got back though because the next day we would journey to Sendai to stay in a huge Japanese style house for the next few days! 


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Rumia Cosplay

It's Wednesday! That means another set of cosplay pictures to be put up!

This week I got to go out and take some pictures of my Rumia cosplay! I decided to take some creative liberties on it and really make it my own style!

Character: Rumia
Series: Touhou Project








Thursday, March 6, 2014

What Am I Listening To? #1

Music is kind of a huge part in my creative processes. I listen to music that inspires me when I sew, write, and sketch to help keep me inspired in what I'm doing. I decided that I'm going to occasionally do posts with samples of music I've been listening to. To help keep things organized and loaded well, I'll be putting a break in this post, so you'll have to click on it to read the entire thing!




Starlight Vision is a song that I found while I was in Japan playing a music game called Groove Coaster. I'll probably write more on this in one of my Journey to Japan posts, but I wanted to post it here since I fell head over heels for this song!



A track from The Elder Scrolls Online, a beta which I've been playing for a bit now. The soundtrack is really lovely and sometimes I stand in game just to listen to it.


I've also been listening a lot to the themes of the Scarlet sisters:




Sasami Cosplay

I know I just posted, but I'm going to go ahead and try to start updating the blog with some of my older costumes to fill my new version of the cosplay tab. 
Sasami is from Sasami-san@ganbaranai. She's filled with the power of a god; she's also a lazy shut-in. 
This was the perfect opportunity to walk around a convention in pajamas. I wore this costume for Anime Weekend Atlanta 2013 on a Friday. It was soooo incredibly comfortable. You can't really tell it here because of the lighting, but the pajamas are an orange/pink fusion color (a little bit of a salmon shade). 
This was also an incredibly fun photo shoot because I just got to play on computers and lay in a very comfortable bed.










Reference

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Journey to Japan (Part 1)

Japan has always been one of those places I wanted to go but never thought I'd see. I had given up on the idea several years back. My family isn't very well off in money, to put it bluntly, I grew up poor. Poor people have too many unfulfilled goals due to money. Goals become dreams, dreams become wishes, and eventually we resign ourselves to the necessities of life. Japan was one of those wishes I had put away.

I read so much on it and there was so much that I wanted to do there. All you can eat sweets cafes, the alternative fashion 'Harajuku', and of course maid cafes. Years of this reading filled my mind with ideas of what to do and what to see, but in the end they became just wishes for me.

So when I got the word that I would be going to Japan, I was too stunned to be elated. I couldn't believe it.

I live in a place where we don't have to worry about just having the necessities. I live in a place where going to Japan is a few years of saving away.

There was quite some time in between reserving the plane ticket and actually getting on the plane. I filled it with planning on what I needed to take with me. The south is a warm place mostly. In fact, here where I live is a lot warmer than a lot of places in the south. I should say before I go on, I love snow. I think I've said this a million times. I used to see snow at least once a year when I lived in the upstate, but now that I'm by the ocean, I never see it. The trip was planned around Sapporo's Snow Festival (Yukimatsuri). It was a dream come true. A festival dedicated to snow?! Well, I'd have to pack warmly. Again, living where I do, I don't have very many warm clothes anymore. This meant shopping for fleece tights and a nice new coat for Christmas (You can see it in my Christmas post of this year!)

And of course, with packing my clothes, I had to choose what clothes I thought best represented me. Here in America, it's very usual to see people many dressed down everywhere. T-shirt and jeans, sweatpants, things like that. In Japan, it's very different. Everyone who goes out always looked like they had somewhere to be. It ranged from school uniforms, business suits, blouses with skirts to alternative fashions and street clothes. What I mean to say is that everyone tends to have a little more style than just casual clothing.

As the last few days closed in for our departure, it was made sure that my kitties (Drift and Sabby) were going to be taken care of. We had someone stay in and keep watch on the house.  Leaving my kitties was the hardest thing I had to do, but I knew I would be back in three weeks time. Maybe I looked crazy when I kept telling them I'd be back in three weeks and to be good and hugging them like crazy before I left, but it needed to be done!

Then the day arrived that I would be leaving for Japan. Driven to the airport and after going through security, I was officially on my way. Of course, we had to stop in Miami to transfer and stay the night in Dallas, but this was all part of what needed to happen in order to get there. We left Dallas early the next morning and finally boarded the plane. It was 13 hours from Dallas to Narita airport. I slept for most of it, honestly.


Fast forward those 13 hours later and there I was, staring at my first set of vending machines in Japan. For those of you who don't know, vending machines are more than just common in Japan. They're nearly everywhere. You'll have several machines for each block in the cities. These vending machines don't just vend soda, though. Unlike our American counterparts, these vending machines will serve you tea, coffee, soda, juice, soup, non-carbonated soft drinks, milk; they even have hot and cold drinks in the same machine. Ever heard of a vending machine that can serve you a can of hot chocolate?

Then off to the first hotel I'd be staying in. It was still in Narita, not too far from the airport. I still hadn't seen a city yet; it was mostly trees and road between the hotel and airport.

The view from the Hotel room. It included an Italian restaurant in a garden.

It was getting pretty late by the time we arrived, so I spent some time getting to know my hotel room.

Some things I noticed:
- I'd be sleeping on a futon bed thing. (When I refer to futons, it will not be in reference to fold out couches but the soft bed mats that a lot of Japan uses). This one was a futon on a fold out bed type thing.
-The toilet seat was heated and had all kinds of buttons to use for the bidet.
-They provide you with not only soap and shampoo like most hotels I know in America do, but also combs and toothbrushes.
-Of course they had yukata for you to wear after you bathed or showered.


This was a western style hotel and it showed, but at the same time ( and I'll probably say this about other things as well) it was just a Japanese take on western style.

It wasn't long before I realized that it was dinnertime. Luckily through all of my sleeping on the plane, the time change didn't bother me very much, but my stomach was upset from the switched mealtimes. Basically, I had no appetite for the first few days.

We headed out into town and eventually decided on a curry place. I had been really excited to have curry in Japan since I really like curry. Unfortunately, again, I had little appetite and didn't get through my curry katsu. (Katsu basically being fried pork or chicken or another meat depending on which you order)


The last thing left to do was to go back and make plans for the next day. It seemed like cat doughnuts, cat cafe, and the KitKat store would be in my future. (A very catty day).