Cover Illustration by Veronica Solomon 12forever.blogspot.com
MAKE LOVE NOT WARCRAFT. Probably everything that we would write after this line is just marginalia. A mere end note to that particular episode of South Park about the monstrous MMORPG (massively multi-player online role-playing game) philosophy, but also about the emotional bonding of father and son as gamers and clan-members. Now, this issue of the Romanian Otaku magazine is not the usual pageant to the multi-billion gaming industry, hyped by fans and full of saucy reviews. Its not even a memorial to the game designers and the cult names behind the games. As i found out it is more about welcome spin offs, uncounted for communities of artists and enthusiasts getting inspiration from games and the nature of play. It is not about victories decided by scores only, or just about familiar insomniac life styles. It is more about deliberate playfulness - the readiness to play with everything that is given to you, be it characters, ideas, issues, hardware, puppets, bento food boxes, microchip sounds or pixelated designs. It is about those who enjoy toying around with cultural icons of the gaming universe. Nothing is left untouched or unchanged, transgressing the limits of a fairly conservative milieu. We will get to meet Sado Masio (Mario) or LEGO Stimpy. Some of the best representatives are probably pixel megacity planners like EbOY from Berlin, real modular maniacs and an inspiration for many. On the sound spectrum Blip Festival from NY gathers some of the best 8bit-, microchip-, chiptune-, microtune-, gameboy musicians up to date. Costume playing is also a precision game - tailoring the right stance, posture and attitude. Well, some have come incredibly close to mastering their own favorites - they've become characters! As for the manga section, I let you decide and no spoilers ;) MEGATRON
Table of Contents
Exhibition ............................................................. 004 Pisica Patrata, Whaleless, Totoro Forest Project
Recommends ..................................................... 047 Anime, Movies (JP/USA), Games
Pictoplasma the beginning ....................... 012 by Veronica Solomon
Cosplay ................................................................. 056 Youko Nakajima (Twelve Kingdoms), Kuchiki Byakuya (Bleach), Mikan Noyamano (Air Gear), Mugen (Samurai Champloo)
A Play Of Dolls .................................................. 014 by InkaMon Art Instalations ................................................ 017 Suzana Dan (Romania), Iwona Liegmann (Poland), Hush Monkey Studios (USA) Bento lunches ................................................... 026 exclusive interview by Cristian Botea Gadgets ................................................................. 028 by Reactive J-Rock ................................................................... 030 Dir en grey’s Uroboros by Irina Georgescu (Rhea)
A World Out of Order ...................................... 060 the Postmodern Pattern in Samurai Champloo Anime Series by Ruxandra Târcã Adrian Florea – Lego Ambassador ......... 062 exclusive interview by Otaku eBoy ........................................................................ 068 exclusive interview by Bogdan Gorgãneanu Nullsleep .............................................................. 074 exclusive interview by Otaku 2 Player Productions ..................................... 078
Virtual Worlds Unplugged .......................... 034 by Mădălin Găgeanu Kyle Downes ....................................................... 038 A Short Visual History of Videogame , NES Coffee table
Manga, Comics .................................................. 080 Jump! • art by Between • story by Between & Inkamon; Hamster Serial Experiments • art & story by Inkamon; Dialogues#2 • art & story by Ciubi; Cain & Abel Chapter 4 • art by Asra • story by Ruxi; Uşuraticii • art & story by Nae
Illustrations ....................................................... 041 Jessica Fortner (Canada), Michal Sycz (Poland), Mykola (Ukraine), Natalie Ratkovski (Germany)
EDITOR & WEB DEVELOPER: Otaku Entertainment DTP: Afaceri Prospere // CONTENT COORDINATOR: Bogdan Gorgãneanu // CHIEF EXECUTIVE: Ana Maria Oana // EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Ruxandra Târcã // ART DIRECTOR: Veronica Solomon // RESEARCH MANAGER: ªtefan Tiron // EDITORIAL OFFICE: Alina Alexa, Cristian Botea, Mădălin Găgeanu , Irina Georgescu // WEB SUPPORT: Costel Chirica // CONTACT: email@example.com // Copyrights of the individual, manga/comics works, illustrations, photos represented in this magazine are the property of their respective creators and are acknowledged on page 127.
Made in Stalin / Kronstadt / Brassó / Braºov
Alexandru Ciubotariu undergroundbd.blogspot.com Romania
Square Cat means street-art. It means Romanian street-art. And it means high quality Romanian street-art. This art form fits equally the walls of the buildings that need the square-cat to avoid falling down in the collective indifference, and the elegant walls of a gallery. Usually, during winter, the cat doesn’t get out in the streets; therefore we must go to the gallery to meet it. This is also a test period. The selection of the works is made by the author of the square-cat – Alexandru Ciubotariu – who gathered his recent works, together with inedited sketches and drawings, all of them representing various facets of the same character, the Square Cat. Regardless if it’s about stickers a few centimeters small or mural paintings of tens of square meters, all of them are reduced to miniature sizes, in order to increase their value and also to go back to their original form, as all the sketches are very small. Whole works or details, still alive in the streets or long cracked by time, all of them are now in the gallery.
They are not the result of an ”all-night” activity, but the fruit of a few years of work. Of course, the gallery walls can serve as a training ground, so necessary for the artist who chose this method to express himself, leaving there a small print of the… square cat. A refuge from the streets in the gallery, then back in the streets again... Almost 50 works of Alexandru Ciubotariu – one of the most representative artists of Romanian street art and comics – can be seen now at Mora Gallery (Bucharest) in an exhibition called Square-Cat in Photos and Drawings. The photos and drawings made using various techniques – pencil, ink or marker – resume, on a minimal scale, one of Ciubotariu’s favorite subjects: ”Pisica Patrata” – a character created by the artist and represented in most of his works until now (stencils, drawings or graffiti). All these were exhibited until February 12 in a worthy context: one of the Mora Gallery’s walls will be covered by the artists with the very same famous character, the Square-Cat.
Giovanni Cervi & Res Pira whaleless.com Italy
Whaleless is an art project dedicated to those artists wishing to express their indignation, rage, shame, disbelief or concern about the slow disappearance of the fascinating giant marine mammals. Pollution, whaling and unacceptable fishing practices are only some of the causes that seriously endanger their survival. It seems that they are slowly but inevitably growing extinct, while the consequences of their gradual disappearance are impossible to predict. And yet we can be certain that the world’s ecosystem – not just the oceans’ but that of our entire planet – will be affected by this change. The world would not be the same without whales, which is why action needs to be taken immediately. Whaleless project was born 4 years ago on the pages of the Italian Pig magazine, created by the Italian curators Giovanni Cervi and Res Pira. The domain whaleless.com, which features by now over 200 artworks that the duo has since received from all over the world – ranging from the USA to
Hong Kong, from Russia to Venezuela – has since gotten hundreds of thousands of clicks: Whaleless was ready to begin its international exhibition tour. Starting at Strychnin Gallery London in July 2008, the exhibition has since traveled to La Rochelle and Florence, and will continue to travel over the next few years, trying to raise awareness upon this global environmental problem. Featured artists (among others): Ashley Wood, Catalina Estrada, Stuart Semple, Wayne Chisnall, Lee Baker, Arianna Carossa, Squp, Chris Bonobo, Ryan Obermeyer, Zaelia Bishop, Aurélien Police, Nicoz Balboa, Giuliano Sale, Silvia Argiolas, Kokomoo, Tamara Ferioli, Marie Luise Emmermann, Bethany Marchman, Jenny Bird, LostFish, Lisa Mei Ling Fong, Wade Furlong, Chris von Steiner, Barbara Canepa, Ansgar Noeth, Angie Mason, Karin Andersen and Zoe Lacchei. Whaleless is realized with the kind support of PIGMagazine (pigmag.com).
1 ZAELIA BISHOP – Children in a whaleless world 2 AURÉLIEN POLICE – Riding west 3 RYAN OBERMEYER – Sonar
Totoro Forest Project
Totoro Forest Project totoroforestproject.org USA
A Tree in My Garden Veronique Joffre verossignol.blogspot.com
When I create a drawing , I don't like to know where I'm going, I prefer to be surprised by chance, with the shapes and colours that i juxtapose that will create characters, settings and stories almost by themselves. I cut, I paste, I daub, trying with my pictures to carry people away, children as well as grown-ups! Through this picture, I tried to symbolize both the power of nature and imagination. I've made this very huge tree in this very little perched garden to show that nature is much more powerful than anything else and also to say that it’s very important to create and develop one's own poetic and dream world, because it's one of the only thinks we have to escape from our material world often so narrow and restrictive.. Children know it, but adults often forget. With My Neighbor Totoro, Hayao Miyazaki succeeded in showing that nature is the main inspiration for the imagination and that they are both the greatest creative forces of the world. I'd like to thank him for his incredible masterpiece.
PROJECT OVERVIEW The Totoro Forest Project is a fundraising exhibition/auction that supports the non-profit organization ”Totoro No Furusato National Fund”, which has the Oscar winning filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki as one of its biggest supporters. The event will feature more than 200 pieces of original art, especially created by internationally acclaimed artists in the fields of animation, comic books, illustration, and fine arts.
MOTIVATION Anime is one of the most influential forms of contemporary art. Among Japanese masters of animation, Hayao Miyazaki is undoubtedly the most popular and respected. The storytelling, visual approach and philosophical depth of his movies had a massive impact in the world of contemporary filmmaking. Many prominent animation and illustration artists in the world proudly recognize Miyazaki’s strong influence and inspiration in their own work. This project gives the artists involved the opportunity to voice their appreciation for master filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki and for the inspiration he has given them through the years.
HOW? Hayao Miyazaki has been actively supporting the effort to preserve Sayama Forest for more than ten years. This 8750 acre park in the outskirts of Tokyo is also known as Totoro Forest. It's in these woods in fact that the concept for the film ”My Neighbor Totoro” was born. In the past few decades, the forest has been subject to urban development. Only continued support to the Totoro Trust Fund can help preserve this much needed island of green in the midst of Tokyo's urban sprawl. We intend to donate the entire proceeds of the project to this worthy cause. This event can also be a symbolic gesture, sending a strong message to the world in terms of environmental and social awareness. Imagine artists from all over the world coming together to donate artwork to help conserve a forest they have never seen. (source: totoroforestproject.org)
THANK YOU Hayao Miyazaki (Japan) OTAKUMAG.COM
Totoro Forest Project
Born and raised in Tokyo, Dice moved to NY in 1993. After graduating from the School of Visual Arts in 1998, he started his career as a staff illustrator for Lucas Learning Ltd. in San Francisco. Two years later, Dice moved back to NY to work for Blue Sky Studios as a visual development/color key artist on their blockbuster film projects such as Ice Age, Robots and upcoming Horton Hears A Who. After his long adventurous 7 year run at Blue Sky Studios, he has recently accepted the new challenge to join as an art director at Pixar Animation Studios. Tell us a little bit about yourself… I started my career as a staff illustrator for Lucas Learning Ltd. in San Francisco. Two years later, I moved back to NY to work for Blue Sky Studios as a visual development/color key artist on their blockbuster film projects such as Ice Age, Robots and Horton Hears A Who. In 2007, after my long adventurous seven-year run at Blue Sky Studios, I was invited to join Pixar Animation Studios as an art director.
Daisuke Dice Tsutsumi simplestroke.com USA
Why did you start the ”Totoro Forest Project”? I saw the news about the problems that Totoro no Furusato Fund was having last year. I felt like we had to do something. There are so many people in
TOTORO OF THEIR OWN Daisuke Dice Tsutsumi (USA) Our next generation may face this situation where kids have to build their own TotoRobot to protect the ever diminishing life of earth. It may not be the same Totoro we used to see in our childhood, but as long as there is hope, we will always find a way to find him because Totoro lives in all of our hearts.
the animation/comic/illustration field whose work was heavily influenced and inspired by Miyazaki’s work and I literally felt we owed him for all the inspiration. I happened to be going back to Japan around that time and planning to visit Studio Ghibli and I mentioned the idea to them to get their blessing. As soon as I came back to the States, I brought my friends Enrico Casarosa, Ronnie del Carmen and Yukino Pang into this mix to organize this charity auction. What kind of a feedback did you received in Japan, during and after the project? I have to say it was a minimal publicity in Japan at first. Even though it was about this forest in their very country, we couldn’t get the media in Japan to be excited about this event as much as the media outside of Japan. It was only after the successful event that generated a good amount of funds that Japanese media decided to publicize this event. Of course, people who found out about this project were so impressed though.
How can you describe your experience, your feelings after the project was over? We raised roughly about $200,000, a sum that went beyond our expectations. Still, we are more impressed that the buzz around this project was HUGE all over the world. It was our mission to raise awareness upon the Sayama Forest in Japan, and also upon the fact that the artists can do so much when they are united through inspiration. The response was really overwhelming. There are so many people from artists to fans, from students to school teachers, from environment activists to art collectors....from all over the world. I believe it is one of those things that everyone always wanted to be a part of or thought about initiating. It would be our dream if this inspires others to do their own good cause project like this. What will happen next? Will you continue the ”Totoro Forest Project”? Regardless how much we care about the fate of Totoro Forest, I personally feel there are tons of other things that we, as artists, can bring to the world. Maybe there’s something we can do to help realize something similar, perhaps better and bigger. I certainly hope we can use this precious experience setting up this project for something down the road in the future.
PICTOPLASMA is about to celebrate its 10th year of existence. The all acclaimed character design festival has been traveling to distant lands last autumn and now it is back home to its birth town - Berlin. But you can find this information, and what the about to begin conference is all about, on the Internet at www.pictoplasma. com. What was I curious about, were the roots of this phenomenon. I paid a visit to their headquarters as I was invited and promised a story. So I got to talk to the â€?mastermindâ€? behind it all- Peter Thaler.
PICTOPLASMA the beginning
Meanwhile, the online fandom grew also, and grew restless. So the idea of a conference was just natural. The need for a face to face meeting, for a chance to play together, was unanimously felt. Organized in 2004, it turned out to be a success, but it also was unable to accommodate the large number of interested people. It was at this time that Mr Lars Denike became involved. Coming from cultural studies, his approach was somehow different and it added a greater consistence to the whole experience.
It was the year 1999 and there was a classic animator who has had it with animation! He felt the need for some essence, for less substance and more meaning. At about the same time, the World Wide Web opened up for commercial purposes and everybody was addressing everybody. And, as the language was a barrier, a new kind of vocabulary came into being – an emotional one, character embodied. This sudden population of the virtual world was very much appealing to Mr. Thaler and he started collecting the symbols and signs that had eyes and tails, and sometimes teeth and fur. After a while, a large library summed up on the Internet, and, consequently, a network of enthusiasts around it. Among them, a publisher appeared, and not long time after, in 2001, appeared also a book- the first Pictoplasma album. It was sold out a long time ago, now... In 2003 another one came out of print, as the collection grew more and more. Sold out even faster than the first one.
PICTOPLASMA the beginning pictoplasma.com Germany
This is the brief story of an international success powered by an army of two and occasional enthusiastic sidekicks, co-funded by one cultural institution in Berlin – Hauptstadtkulturfonds and attended by more and more people from all over the world, who come to Berlin or wherever else to truly play and celebrate diversity and alikeness altogether. A more consistent story about the game, scenery, players, atmosphere... in our next issue. Veronica Solomon
At the moment I dropped by, they were in full fever of preparation for the event in March – the largest conference since now. I was expecting to see a whole bunch of agitated people running about in a designish studio, but I was wrong – there were only five people, three of them not in the permanent staff, the space was basic and the time limited ...
2005 was the year of the first Pictoplasma Animation Festival, a much different animation than the one he parted from, Mr Thaler assures me. Of course, it all evolves around characters, and their features and seeing them in motion... Characters in Motion is the name of the DVD and booklet that came out the same year. That you can still find on their web shop. A larger conference followed in 2006, together with a beautiful black book: The Character Encyclopedia; afterwards, another Animation Festival and another Characters in Motion issue in 2007. In 2008 they went to play in somebody else’s backyard and held the conference in the USA and Argentina.
A Play Of Dolls
If you think of puppet theatre and also of Japan, the word Bunraku comes in mind immediately. But this term is in use only since the late 19th century, because of a small performance hall that managed to resist almost a century long, an obscure period for the puppet theatre, and preserve its tradition to pass it to the modern society. The hall was opened in 1811 in Osaka, and in 1872 it was relocated to Matzusima and named Bunrakuza after its first owner Uemura Bunrakuken. In 1909, the term Bunraku was generally accepted as the name of this particular art form and adopted by the Shochiku entertainment industry. The history of the art of the moving dolls though, starts a lot earlier. The first records of kairaishi and kugutzumawashi – both meaning ”doll manipulators” – date from the Heian Era (784-1185). These were itinerant performers, walking the country with a box attached to their neck as a stage and handling hand sized puppets. By the 13th century, puppet performances were called ningyo joruri, since the puppeteers paired with the formerly itinerant joruri chanters. Joruri was a style of story telling accompanied by shamisen music. This more complex art form, the ningyo joruri, was now to be found in the vicinities of shrines. In the 16th cen-
tury, performers were called to entertain the imperial court and military leaders, and once the capital moved to Edo, they were welcomed under the patronage of the Shogun. The plays were, at that time, mostly about legendary heroes and historic braveries. It was in the merchant city of Osaka, however, that the golden age of ningyo joruri occurred. It began with the association of the famous chanter Takemoto Gidayu with the playwright Chikamatzu Monzaemon, known as the Shakespeare of Japan... . They opened the Takemoto-za theatre in 1684, together with the producer Takeda Izumo. At first, the performances consisted of jidai-mono, historical drama, as that was the tradition. In 1703 Chikamatzu pioneered a new genre: the sewa-mono – domestic drama, with the play called Sonezaki Shinju (”The love suicides at Sonezaki”) written after a real occurrence from only a month before. As this new theme was developing, the old school historic drama began to feel the need for deeper psychological weight. One example is Kanadehon Chushingura - the story of the 47 ronin - perhaps the most famous bunraku play. These subjects captured the interest of the town’s people to the point that others committed suicide in hope that their love will become immortal, and the puppet theatre gained
The relationship between bunraku and kabuki was, over the years, not only one of rivalry, but also one of beneficent influence upon each other. Kabuki actors began to mimic the puppets’ movements, adding a unique style to their performance, meanwhile the puppeteers strived for realism. This led to numerous innovations as moving eyes and mouth and the increase in size of the puppets. The most important change was the use of three puppeteers for each main character: the omozukai - principal operator controls the head and face mimics with his left hand and the right hand of the puppet with his own right hand, the hidarizukai operates the left hand, and the legs are operated by the ashizukai. The great art of these puppeteers is that they are able to move as one, giving the puppet life-like expressivity. Unlike any other puppetry style, Bunraku has its operators on the stage along with the puppets. Traditionally,
they wore black robes and hoods that made them symbolically invisible. Nowadays most skilled omozukai appear in front of the audience with their head uncovered, and even dressed in white or a ceremonial suit. The same, the tayu - chanters were originally hidden from the public, but in 1705 Gidayu chanted in open view, and after a few years both the chanter and shamisen player were seated on a platform at the right of the stage. In modern times it happens that several chanters and musicians are being switched during the play, a revolving platform being needed for this. The golden period of Bunraku reached its peak at the middle of the 18th century. It was then when there were created the three greatest classic plays: Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami - ”The Secret of Sugawara’s Calligraphy”, Yoshitune Senbon-Zakura - ”Yoshitune and the Thousand Cherry Trees” and Kanadehon Chushingura – ”The Treasury of Loyal Retainers”. Soon after the mid century, the popularity of puppet theatre began to wane to the total ruin of a lot of theaters, including Takemoto-za and Toyotakeza, being revived only in the late 19th century. It was then that Bunraku-za came to be known, and soon Hirokoku-za was founded in its vicinity. Again,
(C) Stéphane Barbery, flickr.com/barbery
enormous popularity. To add, in the same year, one of the best chanters at the Takemoto-za left and made his own theatre, in the same district Toyotake-za. The competition between these two theaters led to an ever higher level of art, and thus to more appeal for the public. That in the disadvantage of the kabuki theatre.
A Play Of Dolls
Today, Bunraku benefits of the government support since it was declared in 1955 Important Intangible Cultural Property and again in 2003 was added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
... AND THE ”MASTER OF PUPPETS” An extremely playful figure in the area of puppet manipulation is the animator, director and producer of stop motion films Kihachiro Kawamoto. He is maybe the best modern heir of the bunraku legacy... Multiple awarded at international contests and festivals, successor of Osamu Tezuka at the Presidency of the Japan Animation Association, he remains unknown to most of the fans of Japanese animation. His story is one of constant struggle and sustained efforts to get his visions onto film. As it happens to all non mainstream projects, most of his films were self-financed, sustained by commercial works he was doing in parallel. He was initiated in the handcraft of doll making as a young boy, by his grandmother, and it remained a hobby that became a means of earning money when he found himself unemployed with an architecture diploma in his pocket, after the Second World War. Together with a couple of friends he established a company that made illustrated children’s books with photographs of puppets reenacting the stories. His life changed when he first saw a Jiri Trnka film... he knew then that he had to make puppet animation. There was only one stop motion animator that time in Japan: Tadahito Mochinaga. Kawamoto found him and became his apprentice. Ten years later, he wrote a letter to the great Czech master... The response came six months later. It was an invitation to study with him in Prague. Kawamoto spent one year and nine months in the communist Czechoslovakia, in harsh scarcity, but encouraged by the people’s warmth; in the end, as he himself declared, he had understood what a puppet was. He was 40 years old. Back home, the market was even tougher than
before. There were a lot of freelance animators, not many of them making a living of it. There was a request for animation in television, but that did not apply for puppet animation, since stop motion is a laborious technique. He managed to overcome the hardships, to earn his living from commercial jobs and make his individual works. He did what his master advised him to do: sought inspiration in the Japanese tradition and cultural heritage. Out of these he created films of extreme sensibility and subtle poetics, such as HanaOri - ”Breaking of Flowers is Forbidden”, Oni - Demon, Dojiji - Dojoji Temple, Kataku - ”House of Flames”, Tabi - ”The Trip”, Shijin no Shogai - ”A poet’s Life”. His first feature length movie was Rennyo to Sono Haha – ”Rennyo and his mother”. He won several international prizes. In Japan he is best known for the design of the puppets used in the long running TV series Sangokushi, between 1982 and 1984. A great international acknowledgment came for him in 2005, as he was the subject of the Special Retrospective Tribute at Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. The same occasion he premiered his second feature film: Shisha no Sho ”The Book of the Dead ”, which was greatly acclaimed. In 2007, a DVD called ”The Exquisite Short Films of Kihachiro Kawamoto” was released, receiving excellent reviews. INKAMON
(C) Stéphane Barbery, flickr.com/barbery
a positive competition arose leading to a high level of refinement in performing and again to a wave of interest for this art.
Suzana Dan (Romania), Iwona Liegmann (Poland), Hush Monkey Studios (USA)
Suzana Dan Romania
Honorable fanatic collectors, Here lie the remains of the product of your most pervert and wonderful dreams. I dedicate this monument to all the nice and sick minds, to the carpet of synapses overfilled with thousands of hidden thoughts for HER. Those professional mourners of the traditional fairy tales, with an exceptional experience in all weeping duties (see the White Snow tale), the dwarves watch over Sleeping Beauty. Her open eyes reflect the sky and generally the little existential questions: Who are we? Where are we coming from? Where we are going? Is there life after death? Do I look nice? And her forever frozen smile shows us the fact that she really was a nice and kind creature. The unforgiving fangs of destiny interrupt her glorious existence; they passionately eat out her arms and legs, soiling her dress and hair. Oh yes, listen to this hymn, this IE ILIE and cry. And after that, watch the sky, watch the infinite blue. Her eyes are mirrored in it. She is with us. Will be forever with us. SHE. Play it again. Repeat it. Never forget her. Never forget her. Never forget her. Never forget her. Never forget her. Never forget her. Never forget her. Never forget her. Never forget her. Never forget her.
Iwona Liegmann liegmann.art.pl Poland
Playing around with toys and all sort of children targeting products, Iwona Liegmann unravels their hidden twisted nature: ”At a closer look, my toys are little beady monsters, attracting a viewer with their garish colours and meticulous finish.” Multiple internationally acknowledged, this polish-german artist has a very unique approach in her art, combining ludic intuitive gesture with an assumed social and psychological criticism. «The possibility to transgress and question boundaries (juxtaposed opposites, overlapping universes), and an intellectual and artistic provocation. This provocation is usually playful and ironic, crossing the thin line dividing kitsch and high art. I want to amuse people and make them think. I like to provoke and entertain, but nevertheless deal with serious problems. My art is about ”here and now”, current and yet universal problems, like cruelty to animals, bonds between mother and child, the body. I hope I manage to talk about such things without unnecessary pathos or harshness. For me, art is an important element of our daily lives (and also a way of interpreting them), not some sort of sacrum, which we should contemplate with respect and keep well away from kitsch or folklore. My main artistic challenge is to reveal and preserve the provincial charm of my surroundings.»
Hush Monkey Studios
Hush Monkey Studios hushmonkeystudios.com USA
Almost a decade ago two Cincinnati based artists named sLip & Iffy began to develop an idea for an online based art gallery. The artists wanted a different way to display their art. They felt that any local art gallery would only display their art to a select few. the Internet opens the door to infinity. Ghost Monkay Studios was created in January 1999. sLip & Iffy were constantly working together for new and innovative ideas for the development of the website.
CART ART One of my favorite series of art as of yet. These are what I am most known for and have gotten the most reconition for. The idea just hit me and I became obsessed, I couldnâ€™t stop making. I have a good feeling that Iâ€™ll be making more in the near future
1 MEGAMAN, 2 ZELDA, 3 4 GAMES IN ONE, 4 DUCK HUNT, 5 FINAL FANTASY, 6 MARIO, 7 PACMAN, 8 CONTRA
Jacket Lunch Box
Tomoko Obata jakeben.blog111.fc2.com Japan
What is your year of birth? I was born 1976. I'm 32 years old. Where do you currently live in Japan? I live in Tokyo. What kind of school did you attend? I studied space design at the art college. What do you exactly do for a living? Previous and current work youâ€™re doing, aside from the bento boxes, of course. I am working as a designer ever since I graduated from the university. And I make sales promotion tools and publishing. I made Jacket Lunch Box just as a hobby. Are you working alone or with someone on Jacket Lunch Box ? I am working on it alone. Tell us, how and why did you start the Jacket Lunch Box ? Last year, RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE made a come-back at the Coachella Festival. I really wanted to see their come-back live no matter what, so I decided to go. However, a lot of money is needed to go from Japan to America. In order to gather the money for the trip, I stopped eating out and started making bento lunch-boxes. In Japan there was a craze about making kyara-bentou, where different characters are depicted on the lunch-box, so I thought I'd try too. But, instead of characters, I thought I would do something linked to the music I like. So I made the battle of LA RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE bentou box.That was the impetus of the whole story. Also, why the name Jacket Lunch Box? The kyara-bentou craze in Japan comes from abbreviating character-bentou. So I named it jyake-ben from the shortening of the Japanese jacket no bentou. Since in my work I used mostly overseas artists, when I created the blog I thought about the English name Jacket Lunch Box, and that's how it began. Seeing what you do, I can tell two things, you like rock music and food. What are your favorite bands (Japanese and international)? International: RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE;
Favorite: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nine Inch Nails, Ben Harper and many others; Japanese: Yasuyuki Okamura, Theatre Brook, Yousuii Inoue many others. Where does your passion for music come from? When I was 10, I started listening to all kinds of music. It was an interesting age, when all kinds of genres emerged. When I was 20, Japan also started having fully-fledged rock festivals. I started loving music more and more after I went to such festivals. What influence did music have in your life? Music is part of my life, it is what rocks my feelings. When I create a lunch-box themed on one album, I listen to that album while I make it. Therefore I can concentrate while I make it, and just because I like the music, I can create the lunch-box as well. Which one was the easiest and which was the most difficult to make? easiest: Anthology Sly & the family stone. I didn't have time, so I made it in 15 minutes. most difficult: EVIL EMPIRE RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE. It needed a lot of ingredients, so it took a lot of time. I think this has struck the minds of many, do you eat those bento boxes after you make them? (Or do your friends or family eat them?) During weekdays I make them for my own use, and eat them myself. During holidays, sometimes I make them for friends. How do you decide what cover will be the next one youâ€™re going to make? I choose the covers based on upcoming live shows or new albums of musicians. Also, I make jackets of my friendsâ€™ favorite artists for their birthdays. I can't make jackets that use mixed colors, or covers that use blue, since I don't have blue colored ingredients. Also, I can't reproduce covers that use pictures which are too close to reality (too detailed), because they are too difficult. By the way, do you like foreign food? Yes, I also like Italian food, but I prefer Japanese food. And finally, what would you recommend the Otaku Magazine team to eat? I make Jacket Lunch Box based mainly on rice. However, this jyake-ben is based on a Japanese dish called okonomiyaki. It is part of Japan's food culture, and since I'd like you to taste okonomiyaki, I would recommend you to eat that.
Reactive baka.ro Romania
It’s the 21st century and all sorts of gadgets are being produced across the world; useful gadgets, useless gadgets, or really weird gadgets. It has become a life where sometimes we can’t get by without our gadgets, be it a mobile phone, a camera or a USB gadget like a flash memory. So, let’s see some of the many otaku gadgets out there.
SAMURAI UMBRELLA, SLASHING THROUGH THE RAIN DROPS! Well, even though the era of samurai has been gone for some time now, a lot of it still remains. Such as samurai clothes, samurai spirit (ok, maybe not as good as the one from the samurai era) and samurai swords. Gotta love their beauty. Well, if you can’t afford buying one, a real one, and you don’t like getting wet, you can get the Samurai Sword Handle Umbrella from ThingGeek. Just as the name implies, it’s an umbrella, with a samurai sword handle, equipped with state of the art push button opening and nylon ”scabbard”. Be sure to not sully you pride as a rain samurai, or you might have to commit seppuku and with this umbrella, it ain’t gonna be easy on you.
SPEECH BUBBLES, NOW THEY’RE NOT AS SILENT AS YOU THOUGHT Now we know that the difference between anime and manga is that manga uses speech bubbles to show us a conversation, the same for sound effects sometimes. But who are we to say speech bubbles can’t make noise? The the. company (weird name, right? according to them, it’s due to the team’s short attention span) made these interesting speech bubbles speakers. A set includes a left and right speaker, packed with 6 Watts worth of audio power. All we need to do now is record ourselves while reading speech bubbles from manga or comics, then play them while watching a slideshow of the pages. Surely, it’ll change our lives forever!
HELLO KITTY COURRÈGES By now, we’re pretty much familiar with Sanrio’s 35 year old Hello Kitty. her cuteness has traveled around the world , under the form of all sorts of products, from simple keychains and T-shirts, to mobile phones. In collaboration with Courrèges and Sanrio, the Japanese of Exemode have released a Hello Kitty point and shoot camera. No, the camera ain’t pink, yes, sadly, and it won’t make your pictures pink, that’s for you to do. But it does come with a 2.4 inch LCD screen, 4x digital zoom, it can also shoot videos, at 640x480 and it is SD compatible. Sure, it’s not a pro camera, but it’s definitely worthy of Hello Kitty enthusiasts who want to carry a small camera with them.
KINNIKUMAN WARRIORS USB Cube Japan released four USB gadgets based on 1979’s manga Kinnikuman (Muscle Man). The four are characters from the manga: Kinniku Man, Robin Mask, Wars Man, and Ramen Man. They don’t have much utility though, you just plug them into your computer and they do some body-sculpting, pushups more exactly. Maybe seeing one of the warriors working so hard will motivate you to also do some exercises? Or not.
EVANGELION UNIT 01 WATCH Now this is something for the Evangelion franchise loving fans out there, an Evangelion Unit 01 based watch, the EVA-W01, from Quad Elements. With a very neat purple design and a display that’ll make you think you’re almost piloting an Evangelion. Unfortunately, you won’t be getting to pilot an Evangelion any time soon, but you can always get this watch and wait for it.
ELIZABETH USB DRIVE AND MOUSE Elizabeth is a giant white duck from the Gintama series, and Quad Elements has been giving it some interest. That’s why they’ve released a USB drive, with 1 GB of memory (guess the giant duck didn’t inspire the guys to give it more memory) and a USB optical mouse, with the scroll making for a nice belly for Elizabeth.
Irina Georgescu (Rhea) mostlyhorror.blogspot.com Romania
DIR EN GREYâ€™S UROBOROS Kaoru sits, his fingers strumming steel chords in a steady, nearly oriental rhythm, continuously, like a mantra, a beginning of complex layers to follow. The camera pans slowly and Kyo, face in his hands, whispers in drawn out loops, barely touching the background melody, the same word, unknown, mysterious. Shinya hits the cymbals and Vinushka begins. 9:37 minutes, a symphony in miniature, progressive then nearly arrhythmic, throbbing in frantic, loud and aggressive fibrillation, releasing in calm and pure acoustic, then starting again, up and down through whisper and scream and growl. Vinushka plays on. Launched in November 2008, Uroboros is Dir en grey's 7th studio album, the latest release of a band playing for 12 years, more than half solely in their native Japan, the rest spent in alternatively attempting to break into the larger, sometimes welcoming, most of the times skeptical international scene. The common collective frown is caused by the Other-ness, the language and cultural barrier and probably also by the whole Japanophile association that stems from that, through anime/manga in particular. There's a paradox here, because precisely this association granted them access into the wider scene in the first place. The band has nothing to do with manga or anime per se, but in Europe, around 1994, anime/manga oriented magazines, like AnimaniA in Germany and similar others in the rest of the continent (Poland, France etc), as well as TV stations beginning to broadcast popular series (Sailor Moon) managed to create a boom of interest in the genre and subsequently towards all things Japanese, including culture and, by extension, music. This boom was further aided by the development of various Anime conventions both in Europe and America and the Internet, through communities, forums and most notably the advent of services like Youtube. When the band finally came to Germany in 2005, it sold out all dates solely by word of mouth and indirectly helped spawn Germanyâ€™s own Japanophile simulacra with Tokio Hotel and Cinema Bizarre. Dir en grey formed in February 1997 in the Kansai area of Japan, uniting Kyo on vocals, Kaoru and Die on
Dir en grey - from left to right: Toshiya (bass), Kaoru (guitar), Kyo (vocal), Shinya (drums), Die (guitar)
guitars, Toshiya on bass and Shinya on drums. They released their first material, an EP MISSA in July of the same year, followed by extensive touring and promoting, quickly rising to fame and achieving to play a show at the world famous Budokan in November 1998, before their official debut album, Gauze was even released. It was released in July 1999 and Dir en grey managed to reach the top 10 Oricon (Japan’s Billboard) chart a few times during their career.
of the human emotional spectrum, the ”sadness and pain of the world”, folds and twists it around, then reinvents it all into a new shape. The past is there, reminiscent of the beginning, the early as well as the latter, the softer as well as the darker, the minimal and the baroque, all layered together in a strange narrative reel of sorts, flowing from song to song, embracing the present, looking towards the future, a ”Feast of the V Senses”.
From there on there would be a long but progressive road until Uroboros, through five more albums (Macabre, Kisou, Vulgar, Withering to Death, The Marrow Of A Bone), passing through various sounds and influences, through different styles, contrasting constantly, reinventing, opposing, and yet maintaining a certain aura, in theme and elements, both sonic and visual throughout, the more pop and punk influenced sounds of the first album gradually subsiding, giving way to harder, industrial (Vulgar) and metal, hardcore and metalcore influenced sounds with later albums (The Marrow Of A Bone).
”The inculcated Dogra Magra The pain of the mark and the one and only personality” (Vinushka)
The band cites their original influences to stem from the Japanese music of their time (D’Erlanger, X Japan, Color), in particular visual-kei, a highly expressive and visually flamboyant current coined as genre in Japan, and each member finds their own masters in artists as diverse as Nine Inch Nails, Bauhaus, Rage Against the Machine, or Al Di Meola, although today they refrain from pointing out a certain contemporary influence, wanting to create and follow a path entirely their own. Perhaps this potpourri of influences make the Dir en grey sound precisely what it is, indefinable, escaping label, perhaps best categorized into experimental artrock. Maybe that is the truest with their latest album. Uroboros began with songs being sketched out on tour with Deftones, then was born in the first months of 2008 back in Japan, with the members working separately, then coming together in the remaining months between a tour and a festival appearance. The resulting soundscape, a sometimes unexpected mélange of progressive instances à la King Crimson (of which the album cover art pays homage), weaving with metalcore, delving into tribal, oriental and even jazz, opens with the shamanic chanting of Sa Bir streams into an abrupt then languid sinusoidal to finally close with Inconvenient Ideal, partly an echo of the earlier album Kisou, partly ghouling into a new form altogether, 13 tracks later, completing the circle. Uroboros picks up the same framework of their former albums, the pain, anguish, all the dark sides
Dogra Magra, like Abracadabra, wordplay, or maybe, maybe making swift reference to a surrealist detective novel of 1935, in the vein of Edogawa Rampo, by Yumeno Kyuusaku, or to a 1988 movie by Toshio Matsumoto, a reference to madness, to genetic markings, of hereditary guilt, inbred sin. Vinushka is supposedly about sin, but in most of Dir en grey’s lyrics, the actual message is never spoken outloud, Kyo refusing most of the times to explain or stick to a sole interpretation, the songs themselves shift in meaning either through alternate interpretations of kanji used, any clear message obscuring itself from native speakers as well as nonspeakers, literal translation even differing from the given English special version (as is the case with the alternate lyrics of Dozing Green for example), or shifting further on stage when Kyo is known to change lyrics in the spur of the moment. Like Matsumoto, Kyo seems to enjoy doing ”experiments in deconstructing the contextual system through which people give meaning to or interpret the world”* , preferring to bring ”the message”, if there is any (he usually says he hates being a preacher), to himself first, then to the audience through his whole self, his whole being. Kyo doesn’t sing. He uses his whole vocal range, from melodic to intensive screaming, howling, screeching, groaning, growling, to illogic, incomprehensive bursts of seeming Patton-esque possession. He also delivers via his body, much like a butoh dancer, his whole apparatus involved, jerking, spewing, convulsing in odd or strangely soothing, fluid motions, managing to deliver in tandem more than mere words can. In that sense Dir en grey doesn’t need words. It can and does deliver emotion, raw, stripped, and intensely personal to whoever listens or watches Elsewhere than Japan the live reaction is usually intense, either of instant fascination or instant repulsion, sometimes of intense staring and lack of words or definition, all, the display of blood, cutting, fish-hooking, sudden violence or rapture,
coming from the core of a tiny man, at Rock am Ring to various places in America, the display of seemingly irrational behavior making people squirm, stare, swear, shout, scream, sing along, cry, display a varied palette of emotions. There’s a video on Youtube taken from a hill in the distance at Download Festival 2007; My Chemical Romance enter the stage and a rain of plastic bottles begins pouring onto them for seconds without end. It’s a known fact that festivals are hard. Festivals are fierce. It may also be common fact that hooliganism was coined as a term in the UK some time in the late 1890s. So it’s not unexpected that Dir en grey have it hard at Rock am Ring 2005, repeating in 2006, in the middle of World Cup, and tiny rubber soccer balls flying on stage, seeing themselves, after eight years of playing in arenas and stadiums, back at the very beginning, struggling from the very bottom. On all accounts, Rock am Ring 2005 was a poor performance for the band, the cultural clash harsh and bruising, the obviously different level of a musical reality outside the confines of the Japanese islands, unforgiving. They will have to struggle and go through difficulties from now on until 2008 and on. But Rock am Ring managed to get the five together, make them bond as a band again, forget whatever status they felt they had and start anew; it also put them, in 2006, in the eye of Jonathan Davis of Korn, who invited them to open on his Family Values tour, alongside Deftones and Stone Sour amongst others. From there on, Dir en grey will play on a number of festivals, will release The Marrow of a Bone, will tour America supporting Deftones in 2007 and headlining twice in 2007 and 2008, will continue to tour Japan in long periods, and in the free time, they would start thinking about a new album, creating two singles on tour, Dozing Green and Glass Skin for an album that would finally become Uroboros. The video for Vinushka, cut down to 6 minutes for TV airplay, strays away from the flamboyant, aesthetically complex works of art of the past, a perhaps more mature, laid bare, stripped of all artifice version of the band itself, brushes and hairspray aside, just denim and cotton and skin, pushing the music at the front, visually communicating through subtle indications - a desolate wasteland, an abandoned factory, man-made ruin, a yin-yang balancing through day and night, water and fire, and absence of nature, complete and utter loneliness, eyes turned inward at the stories and emotions within. In a sense Uroboros does the same, a token of ”what is”, of the status quo, a figurehead of what and where
DISCOGRAPHY GAUZE 07.28.1999, Raison Detre / Schwein
-Zan- / Cage /
MACABRE 09.20.2000, [KR]cube / Hydra / Zakuro / Audrey KISOU 01.30.2002, Filth / Bottom of the death valley / Embryo / undecided / -mushi- / Jessica VULGAR 09.10.2003, Audience Killer Loop / The IIID Empire / Kasumi / Drain away / Obscure / Child prey WITHERING TO DEATH. 03.09.2005, Merciless Cult / -Saku- / Dead Tree / The Final / (Kodou) THE MARROW OF A BONE 02.07.2007, Conceived Sorrow / Agitated Screams of Maggots / Grief / (Ryoujoku no Ame) / Repetition of Hatred / Clever Sleazoid UROBOROS 11.12.2008, Vinushka / Red Soil / (Toguro) / Glass Skin / Dozing Green / Stuck Man Other notable: Garden / Ain’t afraid to die / Mr. Newsman / Ugly / Hydra -666-
the band is now, the past, the present, the future, all concentrated in one movement, continuous, death-rebirth, an almost mystic process of binge and purge, of assimilation and opposition, of reinventing constantly, a battle, internal and between the five of them. On the screen Kyo bats his fingers against his cheek, swaying to and fro, in an intimate gesture, calming the turmoil, going back to the beginning, in clear acoustic, fading in whisper. On the CD, Vinushka picks up again, bathing in calm and serene guitars, mingling with flutes then, driven by Shinya’s syncopations, goes back up, in crescendo to end in anguish and growl, finally exhaling into the next song, 3 minutes later. At the time of print Dir en grey, having completed the Kerrang Relentless Tour supporting Mindless Self Indulgence throughout the UK, are back in Japan, preparing for the Feast of V Senses tour that will see them playing 38 dates in 24 cities across the country. There are promises of a European tour,confirmed appearances at Metaltown, Rock am Ring, Rock im Park, Novarock, another possible return to the US. And then, perhaps a new record. After all, when the Ouroboros comes full circle, it starts anew and reinvents itself.
Virtual World Unplugged
Gãgeanu Mãdãlin deckmaster.ro Romania
It’s quite difficult to give an exact definition for ”PLAY”. Play is a concept that refers to a wide range of activities that are mostly associated with enjoyment and entertainment. Play is also in direct relationship to games, and over the last decade some games have contributed to the evolution of PLAY. Now playing a game means so much more. But how did these games gain so much popularity? It all started in 1974, when Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax released the ”Dungeon and Dragons” role-playing game. It was the first commercial success. The game appealed to an audience that lacked ”playfulness”: the hobbyist. It offered a large set of rules that enabled people to create their own fantasy worlds and to venture into them together with friends. Soon enough many players found more pleasure spending hours crafting complex fantasy worlds, each with their own lore and monsters. Imagination was the only limit.
Nine years later, Games Workshop set another milestone in hobby gaming history by releasing the Warhammer fantasy strategy game. This game stood out with its incredibly rich and well crafted lore. The players had to buy miniature units, which they used to create their armies. These miniatures were sold unpainted, and soon players found more joy in painting and showing off extremely detailed painted miniatures than playing the game itself. In 1987, Games Workshop took the next big step and released Warhammer 40.000, a SF war-game with much more richer lore and a huge variety of playable races. The basic idea was the same; units were sold unpainted, but also unassembled. Players had to assemble the miniatures before being able to play. This was to great appeal and spawned whole communities dedicated to painting miniatures, but also modifying them and creating dioramas. This way, players had the possibility to personalize their armies according to their imagination.
In 1993 Richard Garfield designed Magic-The Gathering for Wizards of the Coast, and trading card games were born. The player represents a mighty wizard, called Planeswalker, what uses his magic powers to conjure fantastic creatures and powerful spells to defeat his adversaries. The secret behind this game is the incredibly large card pool at the disposal of the player, to create his deck of 60 cards. With 3 new sets being released each year, the card pool is constantly held fresh. Since the launch, over 13.000 cards have been printed, with the current standard card pool holding over 1000 cards, from which players can choose. The hobby aspect of the game comes from trading. Cards are sold randomly in 15 card booster packs, and soon people started trading for the more powerful cards which were, obviously, harder to find. With some cards being very rare, others being promotional or commemorative (awarded only to the participants of certain events), the game also spawned a large collector community. One of the most valuable cards is Black Lotus (one of the most famous cards, currently out of print) and costs about 2500 USD. Another genre that falls under the definition of hobby games is represented by the board games or tabletop games. These games are usually tailored for 2 to 6 players and, depending on the game, it can take between 1 hour and a couple of days for a complete play-through. What makes hobby games so special is that they are at the same time very similar and yet quite different from computer games. Online gaming has undoubtedly evolved at an impressively fast pace in the last years. Virtual online worlds existed since the early ’70s. Back then, they were called multi-user dungeons, or MUD. These fully text-based games worked in similar fashion as the pen-and-paper role-playing
games: people read a description of the world around them and choose the actions they wished to undertake. The evolution of the computer and the Internet helped online games to evolve as well. The first massive online game to popularize the genre was Ultima: Online, launched in 1997. Yet, the real breakthrough happened two years later, in 1999, when EverQuest took the MMOs into the mainstream. Since its launch, other games have been released. Still, the game that would forever change the face of online gaming would be released only in 2004. Blizzard managed to craft a game so perfect that none of the subsequently released games can even dream of ever surpassing it, World of Warcraft. Similar to hobby games, MMOs (I will be referring to World of Warcraft out of obvious reasons) offer so much to the players that it’s hard to believe that someone will not find a goal to strive for in the game. It creates communities, forms guilds and groups, allows players to collect various items, earn various achievements or compete in tournaments and earn cash prizes. Why similar? Let’s take the world’s leading trading card game: Magic-The Gathering. The most important component of this game is the player communities; without them the game could not exist. Players gather, trade cards, exchange strategies and test decks. They form teams, collect cards to help them improve their decks, duel one another to improve their skills. The most skilled one can earn various achievements as pro-players and any player can compete in regional, national and international championships that result in cash prizes. The difference, however, lies not in the physical form of the two, MMOs being online games, and hobby games having nothing to do with computers, but at a more conceptual level. A players’ connection to the community is much more impersonal in the case of the virtual worlds. No matter how advanced
Virtual World Unplugged
the technology is, you are still interacting with a computer generated character, regardless of the fact that at the other end there is a human being. This creates a very cold relationship between the members of its community. Hobby gaming communities go deeper, at a much more personal level. You meet real people, see their reaction, share their emotions when winning or losing, make friends and take these friendships outside the gaming environment. But not all games are based on the community. This is the case of board games. Here, the games don’t rely on any collecting or trading aspects, but on the game-play experience and the imagination of the players. The main vantage point of board games over their digital counterparts is that their success relies on the game experience it creates alone. They don’t impress through technical achievements, such as graphics or in-game physics, but trough the atmosphere they set during the play. Board games are very varied. The tactics and military strategy genre is represented by ”Tide of Iron”, a game recreating battles of the Second World War. The game puts the player in the position of an army general, with various units and commands at his disposal and an objective to conquer. There are
multiple scenarios the players can choose from, and there is also the possibility to create your own maps and battles. A quite different genre is survival horror, brilliantly represented by ”Arkham Horror”, a game inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. The player assumes the role of a person trapped in a cursed town having close down a number of inter-dimensional portals that allow various monsters to enter the human realm. Each character has a certain specialization and play style, and there are over 10 distinct characters to choose from. ”Arkham Horror” had great success since its launch in 1987 and received a modern reprint in 2005. There are also 6 expansions to date for the base game that bring more characters and settings to the game veterans. The genre that stood at the roots of hobby gaming, the fantasy adventure game, is proudly represented by ”Descent: Journeys in the Dark”. The game brings together two sides: the adventurers and the Overlord. The players represent the adventurers, which are given a quest, usually to kill a monster at the end of a dungeon. One of the players will represent the Overlord, whose mission is to stop the players from reaching their goal, settings traps or putting
monsters in their path. Such a campaign can take up to several days. These are just some of the most representative board games. There are countless others, each with their distinctive themes: an alternate version of the Cold War (”Dust”), space economical and diplomatic strategy (”Twilight Imperium”), conflict between American Special Forces and Nazi Paranormal Troops (”Tannhauser”) or space tactical strategy (”Starcarft”). Romanian hobby gaming communities are scarce. There are two major communities, one in Bucharest, Omniludis, focused on Magic-The Gathering and one in Timişoara, Deckmaster, supporting any kind of hobby games. Smaller communities can be found all across the country: Iaşi, Sibiu, Braşov and Cluj (the former 3 being represented under the name of ”Games Academy”) being just some of them. The evolution of these communities is slow, but constant. The slow pace is influenced by many factors. One of them is money, the hobby games being not the cheapest games on the market. This is mostly due to the requirement of producers to keep a retail price on all countries of a certain region. But the same amount of cash has different values in Eastern and
Western Europe. The other major factor slowing the evolution is cultural in nature. Romanian youngsters and teenagers are not used to have hobbies or invest in them. The majority of the current players involved in hobby gaming are the ones that used to collect stamps during the period before 1989 or bubble-gum stickers after that. These are the people who see the benefits, both on a social and personal level, of having a hobby. The others, however… Still, with all this reluctance, hobby gaming is slowly growing. And signs of that growth can be seen in the first major hobby gaming convention ever held in Romania, the Deckmaster Convention in Timisoara, gathering players from across the country and even Hungary. Signs can also be seen in the appearance of hobby games as part of the anime conventions, especially at Nijikon '08. I hope that this article has shed some light on the hobby gaming phenomenon. If you wish to get in touch with one of the hobby gaming communities you can access their online forums at this addresses: Omniludis Forum: http://www.omniludis.ro/forum and Deckmaster Forums: http://forum.deckmaster. ro (hosting forums for the communities in Timişoara, Sibiu, Braşov and Cluj).
A Short Visual History Of Videogames
Kyle Downes ultra-awesome.com Australia
Kyle Downes is a 21-year-old motion graphics designer residing in Melbourne, Australia. Having just completed a Bachelor of Arts (Animation & Interactive Media) degree at The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) with impressive grades, Kyle is now building a career in the visual effects/motion graphics industry. Kyle grew up in Melbourne with a healthy diet of cartoons and video games, which formed the foundation of his passion about creating animation and computer graphics. In recent years Kyle’s interest in video games has blossomed into an all-out obsession with anything retro gaming related. He now has a collection of over 40 different video game consoles ranging from obscure gems like the Milton Bradley Vectrex, to the one that started the home video game revolution; the Magnavox Odyssey released in 1972. His great interest in the games of yesteryear is one of the main driving forces in Kyle’s art and design work as evident in his motion graphics piece ”A Short Visual History of Videogames” and his giant Nintendo Entertainment System controller installation piece. With Kyle's collection of old school video games continuing to expand, you can expect to see many more retro related projects and artworks emerging from out of the depths of Kyle's twisted imagination and onto his blog site www.ultra-awesome.blogspot.com
It's hard to believe that less than 40 years ago our generation’s favorite pastime was little more than a glimmer in the eye of a few incredibly talented inventors. ”A Short Visual History of Videogames” takes the viewer through a fast paced, visually humorous account of the events that shaped and molded the home video game industry into the multi-billion dollar juggernaut that it is today. Beginning in 1972 with the granddaddy of video games, Ralph Baer, and his invention of the first ever home video game system, the Magnavox Odyssey, the story continues with the legendary Nolan Bushnell's Atari Pong arcade invention marking the beginning of the golden age of arcades. This caused a torrent of iconic childhood memories with Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Space Invaders and Asteroids. As technology improved and processing power increased, so too did the complexity of the games. Following the flood of low quality cash-in games, epitomized by the release of ”E.T. The Extra Terrestrial” on the Atari 2600, and the subsequent crash of the home video game industry, Nintendo's NES system triggered a revival of the industry and a renewed confidence that would push the gaming forward into a much more mainstream market. What followed was a series of generational ”wars” between subsequent generations of home video game systems. It began with the fierce rivalry between Sega and Nintendo in the late 80s, with this current generation’s clash of the titans being between Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft. ”A Short Visual History of Videogames” was created by Kyle Downes during the final year of his bachelor degree in ”Animation & Interactive Media” at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. Creating a fast paced motion graphics ”visual essay” seemed like the best way to depict the events of such an evolving, dynamic industry, as well as exhibiting his technical abilities in 3D animation and visual effects. Total production time for the project was approximately 4 months, using a variety of computer software packages. All consoles depicted in the final piece were modeled, textured and rendered in Autodesk Maya 8.5 and Mental Ray. All visual elements were composited together using Photoshop and Adobe After Effects 6.5.
Nes Coffee Table
The idea for the Nintendo Controller Coffee Table arose as Kyle’s retro gaming collection continued to grow and adequate storage space continued to shrink, with boxes, consoles, and loose carts finding themselves scattered everywhere across the floor of his gaming room. Kyle decided to put his craftsmanship to the test. Constructed over a period of approximately 3 months with a little help from his dad and his power tools, the Giant Nintendo Controller Coffee table provided the perfect solution to Kyle's storage space woes, tripling as a coffee table, a working Nintendo controller and storage box. Replacing Kyle’s old coffee table, it has ample space inside to store games, boxes and accessories. Additionally, wiring attachments to the buttons on the table can be connected to a NES console enabling giant-sized play of some old school classics. This stylish and geeky centerpiece of Kyle’s room has garnered significant popularity throughout the video game community on the Internet, along with recognition from local and national Australian newspapers. The Herald Sun and the Australian publications have run stories on both Kyle and the table.
The controller also provides a perfect opportunity for friends to enjoy many old single-player classics again. Cooperating to control a single character on screen often leads to excessive laughter, shouting, finger-pointing and blaming. The controller was constructed using 18mm MDF for the main construction, and 4mm MDF for the smaller detailed sections. It was painted using a variety of spray cans, oil based and acrylic paints. You can view a detailed step-by-step guide on how to construct one of these stylish centerpieces for yourself in Kyle's blog post: http://ultra-awesome. blogspot.com/2008/05/nes-coffee-table-final-postrah.html
Jessica Fortner (Canada), Michal Sycz (Poland), Mykola (Ukraine), Natalie Ratkovski (Germany)
IF WISHES WERE FISHES jessicafortner.com
MR FONDELL HAS A DREAM jessicafortner.com
THE COMING behance.net/noeeko
1 BUBBLE PEE, 2 SWEET SOFA, 3 ELECTRO CHERRY, 4 WASH COLOR, 5 INVASION behance.net/noeeko
2 1 1 FLURO FAD '08 MIX, 2 MYK'S MONSTERS - SET OF 6, 3 WORK IT!, 4 YES myk31.com
SADO MASIO floaty.de
anime, movies (JP/USA), indie games
Anime FIRST SQUAD When: 2009 first-squad.com First Squad is a joint animation project of Japan's Studio 4°C and Russian authors with Molot Entertainment. Music by Japanese musician DJ Krush. Set during the opening days of World War II on the Eastern Front. Its main cast is represented by a group of Soviet teenagers with extraordinary abilities; the teenagers have been drafted to form a special unit to fight the invading German army. They are opposed by a Schutzstaffel (SS) officer who is attempting to raise from the dead a supernatural army of crusaders from the 12th-century Order of the Sacred Cross and enlist them in the Nazi cause.
EVANGELION: 2.0 YOU CAN (NOT) ADVANCE When: 06/27/2009 evangelion.co.jp Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance is a 2009 Japanese animated film written and chiefly directed by Hideaki Anno. It is the second of the four films released in the Rebuild of Evangelion tetralogy based on the original anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion. It is being produced and co-distributed by Hideaki Anno's Studio Khara.
ASTROBOY When: 10/23/2009 imagius.com Set in the futuristic Metro City, Astro Boy has as character a young robot with incredible powers created by a brilliant scientist as the image of the son he had lost. Unable to fulfill the grieving man's expectations, Astro Boy embarks on a journey in search of acceptance, experiencing betrayal and a netherworld of robot gladiators, before he returns to save Metro City and reconcile with the father who had rejected him.
MUSASHI: THE DREAM OF THE LAST SAMURAI When: summer 2009 musashi-souken.com Award-winning anime creator and director Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell) is developing and writing the film. The website says that the film will deal with ”the fact and fiction about the Niten Ichi-ry - of Musashi Miyamoto, the seeker of the way of the invincible sword.” Miyamoto is a legendary swordsman who pioneered the Hy h Niten Ichi-ry style of twosword fighting and wrote The Book of Five Rings, a book that has been compared to Sun Tzu's The Art of War for its insight on tactics and strategy.
SENGOKU BASARA When: 04/2009 sengokubasara.tv Sengoku Basara takes place during the Sengoku Period, or Warring States Period, during which Japan was split into many minor states battling over power and land. The game features two historical warlords as the main characters: Sanada Yukimura and Date Masamune. Devil Kings’ main character is the Devil King (Oda Nobunaga in Sengoku Basara).
RIDEBACK When: 01/11/2009 rideback-anime.jp In a future world where an organization called the GGP has taken control of the world, Rin Ogata was a promising up-and-comming ballet dancer, but suffered a serious injury and decided to quit. Years later, in college, she comes across a club building and soon finds herself intrigued by a transforming motorcycle-like vehicle called a Rideback. She soon finds that her unique ballet skills with balance and finesse make her a natural born on a Rideback.
VALKYRIA CHRONICLES When: 04/2009 valkyria-anime.com The plot is set in Europa, a fictional version of Europe, in 1935. Because of its abundance of ragnite ore, which can be refined into a powerful fuel, the neutral nation of Gallia comes under attack from the East European Imperial Alliance, which is itself engaged in a war with the Atlantic Federation. When the Imperial forces attack the small border town of Bruhl, Welkin Gunther, son of late General Belgen Gunther, is forced to fight for his life alongside Town Watch captain Alicia Melchiott. Along with Welkin’s adopted sister Isara, the three escape to Gallia’s capitol and subsequently join the country’s militia forces. As members of the newly-formed Squad 7, they must work to repel the invading Imperial forces and discover the true purpose of the invasion itself.
LAMB When:03/24/2009 animax-lamb.com It is the year 2472 A.D. More than three hundred years have passed since the invention of a new quantum drive capable of speeds up to half light speed allowed for mankind to venture outside the Solar System. The planet Cerra, a veritable dustbowl 25 light years away from the Solar System, is the furthest of the outlying human colonies. There are no prisons on Cerra. Instead, there is beauty. Sources: animenewsnetwork.com • wikipedia.com • official sites
Movies TOKYO! When: 03/06/2009 tokyothemovie.com In TOKYO!, three visionary directors (Michel Gondry, Leos Carax and Bong Joon-ho) come together for an omnibus triptych examining the nature of one unforgettable city as it’s shaped by the disparate people who live, work (and run amok) inside an enormous, constantly evolving, densely populated Japanese megalopolis — the ravishing and inimitable Tokyo. Triptych, rhapsody, psychogeography, omnibus, urban valentine, freak show, mindwalk and many other things, TOKYO! is a fantasy in three movements that will make you see one of the world’s greatest cities — if not any city — in unpredictable and ravishing new ways.
YATTERMAN When: 03/07/2009 yatterman-movie.com Gan, the only son of the owner of Takada Toy Shop and his girlfriend Ai serve together as Yatterman, the superhero that (along with their mecha dog Yatterwan) fight the evil Doronbow gang, headed by the sexy Doronjo and her wacky henchmen Boyacki and Tonzra. When the daughter of an explorer brings one of four pieces of the mysterious Skull Stone to them, they must find the other pieces before the Doronbow gang does. The evil force behind the gang, the mysterious Skullobey, wants to use it to steal the world!
BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE When: 05/29/2009 lastblood.asmik-ace.co.jp The film’s setting is shifted slightly from the anime to 1948 at a United States Army camp in Tokyo, shortly after the conclusion of World War II during the American occupation of Japan. Saya will be a 400-year-old half human-half vampire who hunts vampires which are also her only source for food. Normally a loner, Saya forms a friendship with a young girl while preparing to battle Onigen, the highest ranking of the vampires.
GOEMON When: 5/01/2009 goemonmovie.com Ishikawa Goemon (1558-1594) was a legendary ninja warrior and bandit hero who stole gold and valuables and gave them to the poor. There is little historical information on Goemon’s life, and thus he has become a folk hero, whose background and origins have been widely speculated upon. He is notable for being boiled alive after a failed assassination attempt on Toyotomi Hideyoshi. A large iron kettle-shaped bathtub is now called a Goemon-buro (Goemon-bath).
TERMINATOR SALVATION When: 05/22/2009 terminatorsalvation.warnerbros.com Set in post-apocalyptic 2018, John Connor is the man fated to lead the human resistance against Skynet and its army of Terminators. But the future Connor was raised to believe in is altered in part by the appearance of Marcus Wright, a stranger whose last memory is of being on death row. Connor must decide whether Marcus has been sent from the future, or rescued from the past. As Skynet prepares its final onslaught, Connor and Marcus both embark on an odyssey that takes them into the heart of Skynet’s operations, where they uncover the terrible secret behind the possible annihilation of mankind.
AVATAR When: 12/18/2009 TBA In the future, Jake, a paraplegic war veteran, is brought to another planet, Pandora, which is inhabited by the Na'vi, a humanoid race with their own language and culture. Those from Earth find themselves at odds with each other and the local culture.
STAR TREK When: 5/7/2009 startrekmovie.com From director J.J. Abrams (”Mission: Impossible III,” ”Lost” and ”Alias”) and screenwriters Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman (”TRANSFORMERS” ”MI: III”) comes a new vision of the greatest space adventure of all time, 'Star Trek,' featuring a young, new crew venturing boldly where no man has gone before.
UP When: 05/29/2009 Website: disney.go.com/disneypictures/up Carl Fredricksen (Edward Asner) is 78 years old. When Carl was a child, he met and eventually married a girl named Ellie who grew up in a small midwestern town. Ellie always dreamed of exploring the mountains, but she died before she got a chance. Now, when developers threaten to move him into an assisted living home, Carl decides to fulfill his promise to Ellie. To accomplish this, he uses a huge number of balloons to make the house fly - but unwittingly takes a chubby eightyear-old Wilderness Explorer named Russell with him. The two opposites match up for thrilling adventures as they encounter wild terrain, unexpected foes, and all the terrifying creatures that wait in the jungle. Sources: twitchfilm.net • animenewsnetwork.com • nipponcinema.com • Wikipedia Yahoo Movies • filmschoolrejects.com • screenrant.com • imdb.com
Indie Games PIXELJUNK EDEN Q-Games Ltd. (PlayStation 3) pixeljunk.jp A game where you leap and swing among organic physically simulated ”alien” plant-life, smashing things and growing more plants as you go. This game is fully independently funded by Q-Games Ltd. IGF Nominations: Excellence in Visual Art, Excellence in Audio, Technical Excellence
DYSON Rudolf Kremers and Alex May (Windows PC, Linux) Website: dyson-game.com Dyson is an ambient real-time strategy game with abstract visuals. Remotely command semi-autonomous self-replicating mining machines to take over an entire asteroid belt. The original game was made in one month for the TIGSource Procedural Generation competition. Much of the game’s content is procedurally generated. IGF Nominations: Seumas McNally Grand Prize
OSMOS Hemisphere Games (Windows PC) hemispheregames.com/osmos Enter the ambient world of Osmos: elegant, physics-based game-play, dreamlike visuals, and a minimalist, electronic soundtrack. Your objective is to grow by absorbing other motes. Propel yourself by ejecting matter behind you. But be wise: ejecting matter also shrinks you. Relax… good things come to those who wait. Progress from serenely ambient levels into varied and more challenging worlds. Confront attractors, repulsors and intelligent motes with similar abilities and goals as you. IGF Nominations: Seumas McNally Grand Prize, Excellence in Design, Technical Excellence
MIGHTIER Ratloop (Windows PC) ratloop.com/?games/mightier Step away from the computer! Welcome to Mightier, the action puzzler that pulls you away from the screen to solve puzzles by hand with pencil and paper. Using a color printer and a web camera, the game prints puzzle pages for you to draw on, then captures the results when you're done. From your drawings, Mightier constructs a landscape and characters for a fun and engaging 3D platform. Drawing by hand is a lot more fun, but the game also supports mouse drawing for those without a printer, webcam, or spare paper. Check out the video or try it for yourself at http://www.ratloop. com/mightier IGF Nominations: Innovation Award
RETRO/GRADE 24 Caret Games (Windows PC) retrogradegame.com Rick Rocket has just saved the universe from an evil alien armada. Unfortunately, the massive destruction he left in his wake has caused a temporal anomaly that has reversed the flow of time. The player must assume control of Rick’s spacecraft and fight through the epic space battle... backwards! Retro/ Grade is an innovative game that fuses the white knuckle thrills and over the top visuals of a shooter with the broad appeal of a music game. Players are forced to dodge enemy projectiles while positioning the ship to be in the correct place to fire their lasers when their shots come back to them. IGF Nominations: Excellence in Audio, Excellence in Design
MACHINARIUM Amanita Design (Windows PC) machinarium.com Machinarium is a full-scale point and click adventure game developed by the makers of web-games Samorost and Samorost2. IGF Nominations: Excellence in Visual Art
CLETUS CLAY TunaSnax (Xbox Live Arcade/Windows PC) tunasnax.com Cletus Clay™ is a side-scrolling action platform game emphasizing fast-paced, over-the-top fighting action with plenty of humor. It tells the story of a mountain man who gets all riled up when a fleet of alien saucers invade his property. The game uses a combination of traditional clay animation and 3D graphic techniques to give it a unique visual style. Cletus Clay™ is reminiscent of classic run-and-gun platform games like Contra and Metal Slug, but since the players have no default weapon, they must also fight hand-to-hand and improvise with whatever they pick up along the way. The game-play is fast-paced and intense, with an emphasis on setting record scores and fast times as well as progressing through the story. It can be played in single player or two-player co-op. IGF Nominations: Excellence In Visual Art
BLUEBERRY GARDEN Erik Svedang (Windows PC) eriksvedang.com A fairytale made out of play, set in an ever-changing ecosystem. Fly away through the clouds, explore a strange world and uncover the mysteries of Blueberry Garden – your presence could make all the difference. IGF Nominations: Seumas McNally Grand Prize, Excellence in Audio
FEIST Filthy Grip (Windows PC, Mac OSX) www.gd08.ch/FEIST FEIST takes you onto a journey over high mountains and through deep forests. The journey isn't told to be an easy one and besides the dirt tracks you have to take made foes and vicious vegetation. Only with cunningness and by taking risks you might find the power to reach the end of your journey. IGF Nominations: Excellence in Visual Art
SNAPSHOT Kyle Pulver and Peter Jones (Windows PC) snapshotgame.com Snapshot is a game that revolves around the ability to change the world through photographs. Take control of Pic and a magical (yet very scientific) camera that can grab objects right out of the world and store them in photos. Stick photos back into the world to change the environment to guide Pic to safety. Grab an elephant to bounce on, a crate to stack up to reach a ledge that's normally too high, or even photograph a door and stick it somewhere else to gain entry to new areas. This is just the beginning of some of the things that await players in Snapshot. The game is in very early development stages, and more information will be available soon. IGF Nominations: Excellence in Design
CORTEX COMMAND Data Realms (Windows PC, Mac OSX) datarealms.com In Cortex Command, you play as a prospector and explorer in a time where complete cybernetics and whole-body amputations are common practice. Your severed brain is able to control many different types of bodies remotely from its underground bunker: clones, robots, spaceships, defensive turrets, and so on. A typical scenario starts with a building phase where you get to construct your own bunker complex from scratch. Then you need to mine precious gold from the deformable pixel terrain in order to buy more and better ships, soldiers, weapons, digging tools, and deployable defenses. Use these assets to defend your disembodied brain and destroy or bankrupt your opponent! Control your team of remote bodies either directly or let the friendly AI do your bidding through real-time strategy elements built into the game. Play with up to four players in split screen - 2 vs. 2 players, or all four cooperatively against the computer. Eventually, you can play the campaign missions together with friends... IGF Nominations: Technical Excellence
CRAYON PHYSICS DELUXE Kloonigames (Kouvola, Etelä-Suomi Finland) crayonphysics.com Crayon Physics Deluxe is a 2D physics puzzle / sandbox game, in which you get to experience what it would be like if your drawings would be magically transformed into real physical objects. Solve puzzles with your artistic vision and creative use of physics. IGF award winner: Seumas McNally Grand Prize
WORLD OF GOO 2D Boy, LLC (San Jose, CA United States) 2dboy.com World of Goo is a physics based puzzle / construction game. The millions of Goo Balls who live in the beautiful World of Goo don't know that they are in a game, or that they are extremely delicious. IGF award winner: Design Innovation, Technical Excellence
AUDIO SURF Invisible Handlebar, LLC (Vashon, WA United States) audio-surf.com Audiosurf is a music-adapting puzzle racer where you use your own music to create your own experince. The shape, the speed, and the mood of each ride is deteminated by the song you choose. You earn points for clustering together blocks of the same color on the highway, and compete with others on the Internet for the high score on your favorite songs. IGF award winner: Excellence In Audio, Audience Award
SOVIET UNTERZOEGERSDORF: SECTOR II Monochrom (Windows PC, Apple OSX, Linux) monochrom.at/suz-game Soviet Unterzoegersdorf (pronounced ”oon-taa-tseegars-doorf”) is the last existing client republic of the USSR. The soviet enclave maintains no diplomatic relationship with the surrounding so-called ”Republic of Austria” or with the capitalist fortress ”European Union”. The downfall of the people's motherland - the Soviet Union - in the early 1990s had a devastating effect on the country’s intra-economic situation. External reactionary forces threatened the last remaining proletarian paradise. Party secretary Wladislav Gomulka has been kidnapped and is being held in US-Oberzoegersdorf. We must save comrade Gomulka! Because communism isn't an opinion. It's a promise. Sources: igf.com and official web sites.
Cosplay KUCHIKI BYAKUYA (BLEACH) Byakuya is the Captain of the 6th Division of Death Gods that protect Soul Society, the City of Spirits. He is part of the famous Kuchiki family, the hair clip and the scarf being a sign that he comes from a noble family. He is proud, calm and overpasses his feelings to acomplish his duties.
(C) Photo credits: Alex Spineanu
Debuted at Otaku Fest 2008, Bucharest. Also worn at Nijikon 2008, Bucharest, where it won the first place for the Best Cosplay. Cosplayer: Adi Pop (Daddy). Costume made by: Livia Viziteu (Shinju, shinju.bakalicious.net). Accessories by: SĂŽnteonean Cristian.
YOUKO NAKAJIMA (TWELVE KINGDOMS) As the new Emperess of the Kei Kingdom, Youko fights the demons that ravage her lands, trying to keep her country at peace and to provide prosperity for her people. This costume is her official Emperess outfit, worn at her meetings with the officials of her Kingdom. Debuted at Nijikon 2008, Bucharest. Won the prize for the Best Costume. Cosplayer: Livia Viziteu (Shinju). Costume and accessories made by: Livia Viziteu (Shinju).
Cosplay MIKAN NOYAMANO (AIR GEAR) She is a tomboyish girl with short messy hair, and the disciplinarian of the group. She often punishes Ikki by attacking him with wrestling moves and often treats him like a slave. She also has a soft spot for retro games.
(C) Photo credits: Alex Spineanu
Debuted at Nijikon 2008, Bucharest, winning the third place for Best Cosplay. Cosplayer: Irina Dan. Costume by: VlaĹ&#x; Maria Emilia.
MUGEN (SAMURAI CHAMPLOO) A vagabond and a former pirate, Mugen travels around the country together with his friends Fuu and Jin. He seems rude, lewd and vulgar, uses a highly unorthodox swordplay and most of the time operates more on instinct than anything else. Debuted at Nijikon 2008, Bucharest, winning the prize for Most Charismatic Character. Cosplayer: Silviu Pop (ShinigamiKid). Costume made by: Livia Viziteu (Shinju). Accessories by: Silviu Pop (ShinigamiKid).
A World Out of Order A WORLD OUT OF ORDER - THE POSTMODERN PATTERN IN SAMURAI CHAMPLOO ANIME SERIES Watanabe Shinichiro’s Samurai Champloo provides one of the best examples of how to use the most important postmodern features in an animation project. The twenty six episodes far surpasses a traditional anime series, with very-well defined characters and plot, instead bemusing the viewer, who, while watching, can expect only the unexpected. The very beginning warns upon the character of the series;the opening video features a mix of images drawn in the traditional style of ukyo-e, vinyl discs, and hip-hop beats. At the same time, the first thing the director tells us, before the anime as such begins, is that ”This story is completely fictional. Part of this story is different from actual history. So shut up and watch!” In other words: what you are going to see is not the Edo Period, but Watanabe’s Edo Period. The historical period as such is deconstructed at almost all levels; thus it doesn’t function anymore as a reference point. Extrapolating, we can consider the deconstruction pattern offered by Champloo as an occurrence of the breakdown in the signifier-signified chain, leading to the abolition of referentiality. According to Fredric Jameson, one of the most outlining features of postmodernism is the weakening of historicity (regarding equally the public history and the temporality of the individual with its ”schizophrenic” structure – in Jacques Lacan’s terms), as a result of a new depthlessness. In Samurai Champloo one is confronted exactly with this kind of depthlessness. There is no deeply hidden meaning in any of the characters’ actions or personality, what you’ve got is what you see, without the need to go beyond, and there is no room left for further interpretation. The characters that populate the whole series are rather atypical, and this is perhaps due to the director’s intention not to create a classical samurai story, but to re-invent, in his own way, a much debated period in Japan’s history. Therefore the use of anachronisms and the mix between contemporary and historical elements - the author uses various items and situations derived from the contemporary world as tools to present a context from a few hundreds years ago. This attempt has as end result the total lack of historicity, so typical for any postmodern novel, forcing the viewer to leave behind the paradigm of historical truth. One of the main instruments used as such tool is hip-hop music, which, to some extent, can be regarded as the iconic element of the
series, a fact underlined by the words of Manglobe’s representative director, Shinichiro Kobayashi: ”HipHop is a form of music that borrows from others and mixes everything up. That is also a fine definition of the word ”Champloo”. […] When mixing, you can find something that you never expected. Though live action and film are starting to incorporate sampling to some extent, it’s much harder in the anime. Animation is almost totally set by the time you write the script and draw the storyboards. The actual animation and direction merely follow these. Once the story is set, there is no room for improvisation. By refusing to create a series structure, Watanabe left room for the unexpected to appear.” Watanabe made use of the model offered by hip-hop music and applied it to the series at almost all levels: soundtrack, plot development, characters. In this context, anachronisms can be regarded as a hip-hopstyle amalgam that contributes to the overall postmodern landscape of the series, which the viewer is introduced to right from the first episode: after the director’s warning that one should just shut up and watch, the image of Mugen and Jin awaiting execution appears, followed by the narrator’s specification ”A few days earlier”, and the spectator immediately and unexpectedly plunges into a crowded street of a contemporary city, totally out of the initially introduced context and subtly deconstructing the concept of temporality; again, the narrator’s voice interposes, reminding a virtual operator to rewind the events ”the right” a few days earlier and thus the series begins… Hip-hop music as iconic element is to be noticed also from the very first episode, as vinyl scratches are used to make the transition between the episode scenes; at the same time, the atypical characters are beginning to present themselves, blended into anachronistic elements: local government officials looking rather like nowadays yakuza, on whose jackets' back are printed crests very similar to contemporary brands Adidas, Puma and Converse; a very annoyed Fuu, who uses rescue methods very unlikely for a girl; Mugen, whose wild and non-conformist character is revealed after the first five minutes he enters the tea-house; thus being anticipated the whole bunch of characters that are to appear throughout the series. Another important feature of postmodernism is irony, and Samurai Champloo fully makes use of it. Here, irony comes as an added- tool to strengthen the whole axis of the series: the travel of the three protagonists, Fuu, Mugen and Jin, and mainly to
depict sensitive issues of that period (which can easily be extended to a more general approach), such as the prosecution of Christians, forcing the women into brothels to pay for their husbands’ or fathers’ debts, gang fights, homosexuality, kidnapping, the American presence in Japan. The permanent state of starvation of the wandering protagonists is not seen as tragic, but as hilarious; while trapped in a brothel, Fuu doesn’t take too seriously the situation she’s in; Jin takes some life-lessons from a rather creature-like Miyamoto Musashi (the ambiguity of the character leaves the viewer to decide by himself whether he was the real one or he was just assuming the name). Sometimes, irony becomes mockery. Mugen gets caught in the middle of a burning weed field in which everyone is happy and serious matters such as border passing issues are completely left aside; the three protagonists play a baseball game that transforms into a life-or-death fight, having as team members an old man and a dog; the fight in the episode six is mistaken with a Kabuki play; and some Heike zombie is still searching for some important family treasure. All this situations are also part of the overall ”Champloo” of the series, as the viewer can’t differentiate between what can be regarded as Ruxandra Târcă serious matter and what not. To be continued…
REFERENCES: Samurai Champloo Roman Album, Dark Horse Manga, 2006 Jameson, Fredric - Postmodernism or the Cultural Logic of Capitalism, in A Postmodern Reader, edited by Joseph Natoli and Linda Hutcheon, State University of New York Press, Albany, New York, 1993 Lacan, Jacques- The Mirror Stage as a Formative of the Function of the I as Revealed in Psychoanalytic Experience, in Contemporary Literary Criticism: Literary and Cultural Studies, Routledge, New York 1994
Adrian Florea â€“ LEGO ambassador
Adrian Florea flickr.com/olog Romania
My name is Adrian Florea. I am a 22 year old University of arts graduate, connoisseur of sweets and LEGO hobbyist.
When did you made your first MOC (My Own Creation), what does that represent, how long did it take and where did you start from? My first creation must date back to my childhood years, and that is why I don't remember what it was. There must have been countless castles, spaceships and vehicles I never kept track of, I never took the hobby too seriously until my venture to Internet, where I discovered countless international LEGO communities. But don't get me wrong, I still have lots of fun building complex models as I had when I was seven. I remember posting my first creation on the Internet; it was a MOC of a Dragoon from the PC game Starcraft. I posted it and eagerly awaited critique. My next first creations I posted were mostly inspired by existing vehicles from PC games or mov-
ies such as Star Wars; later on, I discovered it was so much better to come up with my own designs. What is your latest MOC (details: how long did it take, what does it represent, what were the materials used...)? Coincidentally, my latest MOC is a Starcraft inspired unit, just as my first creation posted on the Web. This time I went for a more organic zerg. Achieving organic shapes with pieces that are meant to be anything but organic is a challenge. I also have a couple of other creations waiting for me to finish 'em up. One of them is a space fuel/mineral carrier that I'm planning to make it look like it froze in time, as it was blown apart by enemy guns... so yes, my imagination is still comparable to that of a fifth grader. I'm also building an entry for a LEGO contest about odd medieval jobs. The purpose is to show an inexistent and humorous occupation in medieval times, so I decided to build the guild of donkey pit diggers. A group of brave men assigned to build holes for asses.
What do you need to make a MOC (a special kind of pieces, inspiration, original ideas...)? You only need imagination and a fair understanding of functionality and aesthetics. I started off with a seriously small collection, one that could fit into a shoebox, and that was three years ago. A limited supply of parts can definitely boost creativity at first, it's always challenging to see what you can build from apparently useless types of pieces; most of the times this leads to unique ideas that no-one else ever thought of using. Uniqueness is very important in creation, or at least that's how I see it. I can never re-create something that's been done before, not by myself or anyone else. After getting the hang of techniques and most part types, investing into a larger collection might be a good idea. Personally I have more than enough parts at the moment, and sometimes it seems harder to come up with something now then it was when I had a more limited collection. New sets and parts are coming out every year, and it's impossible to keep up unless you have
a distant rich dead uncle. That's why it's better to get innovative with the material you already own. Having a small collection is never a good excuse not to build. Inspiration is another key factor when coming up with interesting builds. As I've said above, movies, games and anime can provide a great deal of material, but after a while creative juices start going wild and you feel the urge to come up with something way more impressive than anything Mr. G. Lukas can ever conjure. Checking up on different concept galleries is also a good way to get some basic ideas, and I'm mostly referring to sci-fi inspired creations that I usually build. Depending on the style or theme I want to build, I need some specific parts. Floating rocks and castle need large supplies of gray and dark gray bricks. Minifigs with armors, weapons and maybe even brown pieces to represent wooden structures. While
Adrian Florea – LEGO ambassador
Sci-fi/mecha/space creations usually require smooth wedges, canopies …tubes and numerous small parts for details and engines. It’s all about making something that looks convincing, still retains the builder’s personal style, and has an overall kick-ass rating to it. The last part is important. In your collection I’ve noticed MOCs inspired from mecha (Gundam Kyrios, Swordfish II Cowboy Bebop), videogames (the dodge from HL2 Ep2.), steampunk (Stubby). Which are your inspiration sources? Coming up with my own design can be equally challenging as copying an existing model (such as Kyrios). It depends on what I feel like building at the moment, or if I'm specifically building for a contest on the Internet. I tend to be spontaneous when I start building a MOC; with no specific inspiration in mind, one can simply come up with brilliant combinations of parts, which will eventually end up in an interesting creation. The biggest source of inspiration is, of course, the community. There are numerous LEGO fan communities across the Internet, with member ranging from ages of under thirteen to over forty. Many are incredibly skilled builders and friendly characters.
Is there any classification of the LEGO pieces? Normally there’s no need to classify LEGO pieces, unless I need to recognize them when shopping for individual parts on the Internet or when I’m sorting my own collection. I would rather be mugged than have to sort. Sorting is one of the most time consuming and apparently useless thing that has to do with this hobby. Essentially, sorting means the categorization of all of your parts in different bins and trays to make it easier to find them. This is necessary when you reach a large enough overall collection. After I manage to sort through +50.000 parts, whenever I build a MOC and take it apart, it has to be sorted again. No one wants their collection spilled all on the floor and taking up three quarters of the room. Don’t get me started on pets. How is the LEGO landscape divided (in enthusiasts who follow a pattern and artists that are making MOCs)? LEGO fan is a rather vague term, but it can be split in two major categories: collectors and builders. I’m usually against categorizing things, such as music, but in this case there’s a large difference between the two. A collector simply buys sets for display or just for ownership, while a builder (or MOCer) buys sets for parts for their own use.
GUNDAM KYRIOS OTAKUMAG.COM
Adrian Florea – LEGO ambassador
Last year you were officially nominated as the official LEGO Ambassador; what does that title represent? I have been a LEGO ambassador for the last six months. I was elected by members of the first community I ever joined, FBTB, a Star Wars LEGO forum. Basically being the ambassador makes you the messenger between LEGO and the fan community. Or simply put, my job is to share info whenever LEGO wants to share something with the fans, or when LEGO wants to hear input from the fans. I think my greatest attribution was the first LEGO event I organized and participated in, in 2008. What can you tell us about the international LEGO scene (is it divided in groups, are you part of an international group, are you collaborating with other artists, did you take part in exhibitions/events)? I’m not going to lie here, the international LEGO community is what ties all the fans together. The Internet is a key factor in connecting people with
similar interests. Internet communities give every LEGO fan the opportunity to share creations, to give and receive feedback, and it’s the greatest motivational factor in this hobby. There are countless forums and sites created for different niches of the LEGO universe. Some are theme based, such as Star Wars forums, Castle forums or Space forums, others are just gather points for more experienced builders. So whatever you’re into building, you can always find a friendly place. Communication with fellow builders is essential from where I see it. Another motivational factor about communities is the contests. Usually held by individuals donating LEGO sets from their own collection, contests can get any hobbyist out of his builder’s block (that’s like writer’s block, only with Lego) What do you know about the local LEGO scene (what level did it reach, what artists do you know, important events/exhibitions, workshops, collaborations)?
Romanian Lego fans are scarce. The community is looking promising though; in several years I can see people holding contests and organizing events. My only wish is to see this as a collaborative project and hope that all of the community members stick together and don’t get too competitive (as we all know people can get highly competitive even in friendly environments. We have one small (at the moment) forum where we are currently housing sixty (60) members. And finally, what are your plans? Oh, the easiest question so-far. There’s no doubt I will keep on building creations and posting them for a long time. As long as I still have a couple hours each day to stick my fingers in my Lego collection, I can keep on being as prolific as I’ve always been. I am hoping to continue building up the Romanian community; and LEGO fans, people everywhere, especially Romanians, need to see what a creative and imaginative hobby this is, and I’ll make sure to carry on this message.
EbOY means Steffen Sauerteig, Svend Smital and Kai Vermehr. We create re-usable pixel objects and take them to build complex and extensible artwork. And we make toys.
This year on May 2, the artistic group e Boy will celebrate 12 years of existence. Tell us something about the first days, what can you recall now? We spent a lot of time playing Marathon (an early first person shooter game like Quake) in the living room of Kai's apartment and later at our first own studio. Regarding our approach, we wanted to work on a digital basis only - back then lots of people felt that digital ”was not real” - and that it only would validate if printed. Things have changed. Today digital is more real. During the years you've build many cities, a part of them can be found in your last book PIXORAMA. Of all these, which is your favorite one, how was it made and how long did it take to complete it? Every Pixorama has its own character. It's like food; you'll probably want something sweet after you had some salty fish. We know that your toys aren't just some nice decorated sculptures. These are modular toys and you can play with them. What was the basic concept that you use at the beginning and which
are the main characteristics of the PEECOL. The concept was to make the toy parts modular and generic enough to allow a wide playground for variation with the paintings - at the same time, we wanted it to be as unique as possible. The idea is to create lots of different people - normal cliché figures and completely weird characters! An important inspiration source was represented by our own Peecol pixel figures - which are also based on upper and lower parts. Also, we wanted a sturdy, playable and beautiful toy. Besides attracting adults, it should survive serious kid's play. On your online shop we discovered a limited edition (t-shirts, bags, sunglasses). Do you have a statistics regarding the people who buy your products (boy, girls, age, country)? Most of our visitors/buyers are from Europe (UK, France and Germany) and from the USA... but we have no gender or ages stats. Finally, tell us something about your actual projects. We have just finished a project with the agency Dentsu for the Japanese company Docomo http://playprime.jp/ And we made an image to promote Asics at the upcoming Tokyo Marathon. And there is the coop with Gola/UK. Besides the commercial projects, we always do our own projects. There will be a small collection of eBoy skateboard decks soon.
EbOY eboy.com Germany
MR. Q PEECOL, 3.5-Inch, Abs Plastic Don't diss Pam Grier if you're hanging around Mr. Q, or you might be in for an early visit to the dentist. Hop online and visit Mr. Q's MySpace page where you can add him as a friend, drop a comment, and find out how much he benchpressed.
BERND PEECOL, 3.5-Inch, Abs Plastic When he isn't diggin' trenches or pounding back tallboys, Bernd tries to catch up on Tivo'd episodes of Trading Spaces. Hop online and visit Bernd's MySpace page where you can add him as a friend, drop a comment, and learn about his ongoing endeavors of trying to get an MBA in Psychology. Yes, we said MBA IN PSYCHOLOGY (he's gonna have a hard time if you ask us).
COWCO PEECOL, 3.5-Inch, Abs Plastic CowCo lost his herd and his girl, but he's hanging onto his requisite chaps, hat and stars.
NUKE PEECOL, 3.5-Inch, Abs Plastic Nuke is the most bad-ass superhero alive.
LACOSTE 03 PEECOL, 3.5-Inch, Abs Plastic These super athletic tennis dressed PEECOLs are only available with those brilliant Lacoste shoes.
GOLA SNEAKERS UK sportswear label Gola have hooked up with eBoy on a new footwear collection for the upcoming 2009 spring/summer line. The sneakers combine a mix of leather and canvas into a men’s and women’s footwear range.
COLAB DRECKIG White metal frame with wrap around lens. Polarizing filter lens for glare free vision. Art featured on removable electrostatic lens stickers. Comes in a tube with a miniposter, lens cloth and a cloth bag. Limited Edition – 1000 individually numbered pieces worldwide.
EbOY PIXORAMA Published in 2008 by eBoy. 14 full-color cardboard pages featuring Foobar, London, Assembler, New York, Superbronco, Tokyo, Baltimore and LA. Size closed: 22,5×30 cm (8,86×11,81 inch). Corners rounded.
EbOY HELLO 512 full-color pages, published in 2002 by Laurence King Publishing Ltd Devoted entirely to the work of eBoy, this volume showcases the firm's graphic artwork with some 500 colour illustrations that represent all the images currently held in their image database.
EbOY SCHMOCK 110 mm x 150 mm, 160 pages, published by Rojo 2008 Schmock is a collection of fine images by superschmocky eBoy.
Nullsleep creates powerful data pop using repurposed low-bit electronics in a relentless search for new ways to circumvent their limitations. Bittersweet melodies and driving, rhythmic pulses are coaxed out of small plastic devices to produce a surprisingly intense sound. In 1999 Nullsleep cofounded 8bitpeoples, a collective of artists interested in the audio-visual aesthetics of early home computers and video game consoles. He has since released a number of recordings through 8bitpeoples, Astralwerks, Aniplex and others. Based in New York City, Nullsleep has performed extensively throughout North America, Europe and Asia, including the 20-date International Chiptune Resistance world tour in 2006. This year marks the 10th anniversary since you co-founded low-bit art collective 8bitpeoples, together with Mike Hanlon. What are the most important moments you remember from the beginning of the 8bitpeoples crew? Well, the moment when it all began certainly stands out in my mind. I remember sitting in my college dorm room when Mike and I first talked about starting this collective and calling it 8bitpeoples. I had to be convinced about the plural form for the name. If you would have told me then that this project would still be going strong 10 years later, I probably wouldn't have believed it. But I think that if anything, 8bitpeoples is stronger than ever and itâ€™s thanks in large part to some of the other key figures that have gotten involved over the years. Meeting Richard Caraballo (minusbaby) for the first time in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art was a pivotal moment, considering the large part that Rich would have in establishing the visual aesthetic for 8bitpeoples. Rich and I played a show together soon thereafter - the first time either of us had performed live. Then, not all that long afterwards, I got an email from Josh Davis (Bit Shifter) asking for any advice I might have for another guy performing live music with a Game Boy. Josh and I would go on to play countless shows together, tour the world, and build 8bitpeoples into what it ProxyConnection: keep-alive Cache-Control: max-age=0 today. Along the way, our paths crossed with Mike Rosenthal from The Tank - a non-profit performing arts space in NYC. What CBGB's was for punk, The Tank was for chip music. Mike gave us a homebase
to operate out of, and a regular venue for putting on shows. This relationship would eventually lead to organizing the first Blip Festival in 2006. And most recently the rise of the low-bit VJs / visualists has been an important development. Incorporating graphics from guys like Paris Treantafeles, noteNdo, the C-Men, NO CARRIER, and VBLANK into live performances and online projects has definitely taken things to the next level, showcasing some of the aims of 8bitpeoples outside the realm of music. Who is the 8bitpeoples crew now and what are the latest releases? We've got a couple of great releases out from gwEm and Counter Reset and M-.-n right now. And we have some unbelievable surprises and amazing (long overdue) releases in store for the rest of the year too. As far as the crew, it really depends on how you define it. We're really pretty fluid in how we operate. Artists who release their work through 8bitpeoples don't have any specific obligations to the group, so itâ€™s up to them to decide to which degree they want to be involved. But the core group can probably be said to be made up of: Steering the ship: Myself and Bit Shifter; Behind the scenes: Mike Rosenthal and 2 Player Productions; Making things work (and look good): Openback and minusbaby; Go-to guys for graphics: minusbaby, Otro and a rotating stable of additional gfx badasses; Audio wizards and / or hardware haxx0rz: Trash80, Glomag, Random, x|k, Johan Kotlinski; The music makers: All of the guys shredding those squarewaves.
These are just the most consistently involved players. There are many, many more that have contributed in very significant ways to the development of 8bitpeoples. In 2006 you were in the ”INTERNATIONAL CHIPTUNE RESISTANCE” world tour (Japan, Europe, US/Canada), together with Bit Shifter. What are the differences you discovered in comparison with the 8-bit from NY and what was your feeling after this tour, at the level of experience? The ICR tour was an amazing experience, some of the best times I've ever had. It was interesting to perform in such a diversity of venues in rapid succession, because it really did give you a sense of the individual character of each place. Some of the crowds were full of complete maniacs (Malmö comes to my mind) and others were more restrained. But I don't think there was a single bad experience we had on that tour, with the exception of some lost luggage. One thing that the tour really reinforced was the sense of community within the chip music scene. We really would not have been able to pull it off without the help of all our friends and fellow musicians along the way. When we got back home, we missed everyone so much that we had to put together that first Blip Festival in order to bring a bunch of the guys from the tour back to NYC with us. And the fact that the festival was a success as well was further proof of the dedication that both the artists and fans have in this scene. An increasing number of mainstream artists (e.g: Crystal Castles, HORSE the band, Junkie XL...) are influenced by the 8-bit music. Pixelh8 was recently invited and broadcast on BBC Radio One; also, Damon Albarn (Gorillaz, Blur) presented Pixelh8 during a radio broadcast, people listen to more and more chiptune, and there can be felt a ripening of the community and a new inspiration source for the mainstream. What do you think of that? I never really know how to answer questions like this. Usually I tend to respond diplomatically, but the truth is I don't really give a shit; it’s not something that I give much thought to. We're doing our own thing, and operating outside the world of mainstream music gives artists a whole lot more flexibility and the opportunity to take risks and experiment more often. If things progress in such a way that some chip musicians begin to break through into the mainstream, that’s great. I just hope that they'll hold strong to their ideals and artistic integrity through that transition. Not an easy thing to do for mainstream artists, apparently;
just take a look at the outright pillaging of the chip music scene by the likes of Crystal Castles and Timbaland. I'm not interested in being a part of that world.
and I'm interested in hearing the results of his ”Obsolete?” project with the National Museum of Computing.
All that being said, I think Pixelh8 may have caught some friendly fire. He has done some cool stuff
Finally, what are your plans for 2009? Curing cancer, perfecting time travel, and performing live at the Large Hadron Collider.
BLIP FESTIVAL DVD 2006
BLIP FESTIVAL DVD 2007
In late 2006, New York City's financial district was the unlikely epicenter of the Blip Festival, an event organized by the Manhattan art space The Tank and artist collective 8bitpeoples. This four-day event showcase nearly 40 international artists while drawing over 1400 attendees to relish in the chiptune phenomenon and its related disciplines – an obscure yet emerging niche in digital art involving the application of legacy video game consoles & home computers as modern artistic instruments. Spectators cheered as Commodore 64s, Amigas, Nintendo Entertainment Systems, Famicoms, and Game Boy roared to life igniting both New York and the global chiptune underground with low resolution, high-impact music and motion graphics.
In 2007, musicians and artists from around the world assembled in New York City to participate in the second annual Blip Festival.Curated and organized by artist collective 8bitpeoples and non-profit art space The Tank, this four-day event showcased the untapped potential of low-bit home computer and game consoles used as creative audio and video tools.
2 Player Production, 8bitpeoples, and The Tank proudly present a comprehensive cross-section of the event in Blip Festival 2006: The Videos – featuring live performances by Anamanaguchi, Aonami, Bit Shifter, Bubblyfish, Chibi-Tech, Coova, Covox, Mark DeNardo, The Depreciation Guild, Glomag, Goto80, Hally, Kplecraft, Bud Melvin, Nullsleep, Pepino, Tristan Perich, Portalenz, Quarta330, Rabato, Random, Receptors, Saitone, Starpause, Jeroen Tel, TouchBoy, Tugboat, Virt, Neil Voss, Herbert Weixelbaum, X|K, YMCK, the C-Men, C-TRL Labs, noteNdo, Voltage Controlled, and Dan Winckler.
Disc1: The Videos Thirty two videos in anamorphic widescreen featuring performances from all four days of Blip Festival 2007
SPECIAL FEATURES Artist Profiles Festival photo collections Chibi-Tech, Dan Winckler, Marjorie Becker, Minusbaby, Nullsleep, Rabato, Random, X|K 2 Player Productions Bonus Video Archive Random at PluseWave, Nullsleep, Animal Style, OMAC at PulseWave, Receptors featuring Glomag ”Disconnected” Street show featuring Nullsleep, Mark DeNardo -Chiptune Cruise featuring Bit Shifter, Nullsleep ”Galaxy Tonite” video & 2PP video collection teaser. Blip Festival 2006 commemorative poster included
2 Player Production is proud to present this DVD video compilation, featuring one track from each of the festival's 32 performers. Unrestricted camera access positions the viewer directly between a surging crowd and a bracing wall of sound, one built upon familiar technology turned on its ear.
Disc 2: Special Features Bonus videos, Multi-Angle Videos, Reformat The Planet, Pulsewave videos, Pulsewave ROM Fliers, Photo Galeries Live music performances by: Alex Mauer, Neil Voss, 8GB, Gijs Gieskes, NrGiGa, Paza, Saskrotch, Lo-bat., Bubblyfish, Loud Objects, minusbaby, Rugar, Nullsleep, Virt, Hally, Anamanaguchi, Markus Schrodt, Graffiti Monsters, The Depreciation Guild, Tree Wave, Bit Shifter, Bokusatsu Shoujo Koubou, Bodenstandig 2000, Huoratron, Postal_m@ rket, 6955, Glomag, Yes, Robot, Firebrand Boy, gwEm & Counter Reset, Sabrepulse, and Blasterhead. With live visuals and motion graphics by: NO CARRIER, Otro, noteNdo, kiken.corporation, and Voltage Controlled.
2 Player Productions
2 Player Productions 2playerproductions.com USA
Paul Levering initially formed 2 Player Productions LLC with his friend and film maker Paul Owens in the winter of 2005, joined shortly after by cinematographer Asif Siddiky, a long time friend and colleague of Paul Owens. The founding concept of 2PP was to pursue the production of a documentary film concerning the impact of video game software on developing modern music culture. With the initial working title of ”Play”, the official research for the project began in late 2005, including interviews and test footage of many performers and professionals working directly in the game industry or in some way influenced by its content. This early research led to 2PP's very first working production, a documentary mini series on the Video Games Live symphony concert tour, a continuing worldwide production by game industry veterans Tommy Tallarico and Jack Wall.
The Video Games Live mini series followed Tommy and Jack through the early stages of publicity and set up, ending with highlights from the concerts first performance in Philadelphia at the historic Mariam Theater. The series debuted on the MTV owned Gametrailers.com as a featured story, pulling over 160 thousand views. 2PP continued to produce short films and videos of performances in the tri-state area, falling in to a regular position shooting chip music concerts at the Tank (thetanknyc.org) performance art space in New York. The Tank's monthly ”Pulsewave” (pulsewavenyc.com) series offered 2PP a fantastic setting to explore chip music culture and develop techniques of shooting and editing live performances. When the Tank and chip music net label 8bitpeoples (8bitpeoples.com) decided to organize a four day festival, 2PP was invited to be the official videographers of the event. Seeing this as a once in a lifetime
opportunity, all efforts where poured into covering the Blip Festival (blipfestival.org) and all aspects of its production. Using footage obtained from Blip Festival, Pulsewave, and additional interviews shot around New York after Blip, 2PP began to bring together the film that would be known as ”Reformat the Planet”. Work on ”Reformat the Planet” would continue through 2006 and 2007 as 2PP also produced a stand alone DVD release of music videos featuring every artist from the 2006 Blip Festival, as well as
all the chip music videos completed independently of the festival up to that time. This would be 2PPs first DVD release, distributed independently through the Tank and 8bitpeoples. Maintaining their relationship with the chip community, 2PP continued to film local shows and events, eventually hosting certain Pulsewave shows themselves and making the events an outlet to premier new video works. In late 2007 2PP returned to shoot Blip Festival for a second time, and again began production on another DVD of performance videos.
manga & comics
Jump! Art: Remus Brezeanu (aka Between) Story: Between & Veronica Solomon (aka Inkamon)
Serial Experiments Hamster Art & Story: Veronica Solomon (aka Inkamon) Dialogues#2 Art & Story: Alexandru Ciubotariu (aka Ciubi) Cain & Abel Chapter 4 Art: Alexandra Gabor (aka Asra) Story: Ruxandra Târcă (aka Ruxi) Uşuraticii Art & Story: Timotei Nicolae Drob (aka Nae)
Cover © Veronica Solomon Pg. 1, Pg. 2, Pg.3 © Veronica Solomon Pg. 4 © Sorina Andreica Pg. 5 © Alexandru Ciubotariu Pg. 6, Pg. 7 © Zaelia Bishop Pg. 7 © Aurélien Police, Ryan Obermeyer Pg. 8 © Veronique Joffre Pg. 9 © Hayao Miyazaki Pg. 10-11 © Daisuke Dice Tsutsumi Pg. 12-13 © Pictoplasma Pg. 14-16 © Stéphane Barbery
Pg. 49 Sengoku Basara © Production I.G,Quantcast Rideback © Madhouse Studios, Valkyria Chronicles © A-1 Pictures, LaMB © Animax Pg. 50 Tokyo! © tokyothemovie.com, Yatterman © yatterman-movie.com, Goemon © goemonmovie. com Pg. 51 Terminator Salvation © Warner Bros, Avatar © 20th Century Fox, Star Trek © startrekmovie.com, Up © Pixar Animation Studios Pg. 52 PixelJunk Eden © Q-Games Ltd., Dyson © Rudolf Kremers and Alex May, Osmos © Hemisphere Games, Mightier © Ratloop Pg. 53 Retro/Grade © 24 Caret Games, Machinarium © Amanita Design, Cletus Clay © TunaSnax, Bluebery Garden © Erik Svedang Pg. 54 FEIST - Filthy Grip, Snapshot - Kyle Pulver and Peter Jones, Cortex Comand - Data Realms
Pg. 18-19 © Suzana Dan
Pg. 22-23 © Hush Monkey Studios
Pg. 55 Crayon Physics Deluxe - Kloonigames, World of Goo - 2dboy.com, Audio Surf - Invisible Handlebar, LLC, Soviet Unterzoegersdorf: Sector II – Monochrom
Pg. 24-25 © jakeben.blog111.fc2.com
Pg. 56-59 © Alex Spineanu
Pg. 26 © ThingGeek.com, the. company
Pg. 61 © Manglobe
Pg. 27 © Hello Kitty, Cube Japan, Quad Elements,
Pg. 62-67 © Adrian Florea
Pg. 28-31 © direngrey.co.jp
Pg. 68-73 © EbOY
Pg. 36-38 © Kyle Downes
Pg. 76 © D. Yee
Pg. 40-41 © Jessica Fortner
Pg. 78-79 © minusbaby
Pg. 42-43 © Michal Sycz
Pg. 81-97 © Remus Brezeanu
Pg. 44-45 © Mykola
Pg. 98-99 © Veronica Solomon
Pg. 46 © Natalie Ratkovski
Pg. 100-105 © Alexandru Ciubotariu
Pg. 48 First Squad © Studio 4°C & Molot Entertainment, Evangelion: 2.0 You Can (Not) Advance © Gainax, Astroboy © imagi, Musashi: The Dream of the Last Samurai © Production I.G,
Pg. 106-119 © Alexandra Stefania Gabor
Pg. 20-21 © Iwona Liegmann
Pg. 120-126 © Timotei Nicolae Drob
Note: Any errors or omissions are inadvertent. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can make corrections in subsequent printings.
Thanks for love and support, Otakus worldwide. ARTISTS Ciubotariu Alexandru (RO), Veronique Joffre (FR), Hayao Miyazaki (JP), Daisuke Dice Tsutsumi (USA), Peter Thaler (DE), Stéphane Barbery (JP), Suzana Dan (RO), Iwona Liegmann (PL), Jessica Fortner (CAN), Hush Monkey Studios (USA), Tomoko Obata (JP), Kyle Downes (AUS), Michal Sycz (PL), Mykola (UKR), Natalie Ratkovski (DE), Alex Spineanu (RO), Adrian Florea (RO), Nullsleep (USA), Remus Brezeanu (RO), Veronica Solomon (RO), Alexandra Stefania Gabor (RO), Timotei Nicolae Drob (RO) MUSIC sidabitball (FR), Bit Shifter (USA), Pixelh8 (UK), Kplecraft (JP), Minus (RO), Anamanaguchi (USA), Kittenrock (UK), Nullsleep (USA), Moloh (RO), Nordloef (SWE), Ikuma (SG), she (SE), Mark DeNardo (USA), USK (JP), dubmood (FR), Makunouchi Bento (RO), 8GB (AR), 6955 (JP), Alex Mauer (USA), Blasterhead (JP), Bubblyfish (USA), Coova (JP), Covox (SWE), Glomag (USA), Kaseo (JP),Markus Schrodt (AT), minusbaby (USA), Neil Voss (USA), Postal_M@rket (IT), Saitone (JP), Saskrotch (USA), The Depreciation Guild (USA), YMCK (JP) FRIENDS Flavius Fultman, Mihai Bădescu, Andrei Ene, Rancha, Dermon, Aria Urbanã, Snow, Alina Alexa, Manuela Mazilu, Cristian Stupariu, Timea, Bobi, Miléna, Milán, Claudia ªandru, Ricã, Tibi, Marian, Capa, Dani, Z-kun, Urfe, Workbot, Alexander, Andreea Apostol, Bragar Lucian, Agnes, DJ Bela, Project Sakura, Kavdanska, Noru Negru, DJ Snow, hardcomics crew (Milos, Matei Branea), Vlad Nanca, Helion, Sereitei, Yume, Daos...
EDITORS Alina Alexa, Cristian Botea, Mădălin Găgeanu, Irina Georgescu, Livia Viziteu SPECIAL THANKS EbOY (DE), 2 Player Productions (USA), 8bitpeoples (USA), Poligrafia Codex (RO) PARTNERS OTA, Zile şi Nopţi, Sunete PRINT and PREPRESS by POLIGRAFIA CODEX www.poligrafiacodex.ro printed in Romania / EU