Introducing Chibi Senpai

Exciting news Senpai Fans!!! Our newest project Chibi Senpai is going live! What is Chibi Senpai you ask? Well as you have probably noticed things have been a little slow here at Senpai Magazine lately. It’s not because we’ve given up, or gotten lazy. In fact it’s just the opposite. We’ve been working hard on new and exciting things for you our loyal fans.

What does that have to do with Chibi Senpai? Everything my friends! Chibi Senpai is our new FREE monthly e-magazine. It’s filled with reviews, articles, recipes, previews of upcoming events, and more! It’s not a replacement for the quarterly magazine. It’s a separate product created to help keep Senpai goodness around for you to enjoy all year long. Want to know more? Want to sign up? All you have to do is follow the link HERE, as the ONLY WAY to get Chibi Senpai is to be signed up on our e-mail list.

Still not convinced? Or maybe you just want to sample our newest creation before signing up? Don’t worry we’ve got that covered too. Issue one is free to download at the link HERE, issue two will be going out to subscribers tonight!!! So don’t delay sign up now!

Happy 2013!

Hey everyone! I know its been 16 days since the start of a new year, but I still wanted to say Happy New Year to all. I’m sure we’ve all heard our share of “I haven’t seen you in a year!” already and some of us are still getting adjusted to seeing “2013″ on paper.

Though I didn’t make any official new year’s resolutions, I have decided to go with the flow of things for the new year. I’m also taking a lesson from our friends in Japan and practicing forgiveness for friends/ family/whoever for past disagreements in order for a fresh start. I want to get back to things I haven’t done in a while such as drawing, belly dancing, and writing and start new things such as meditation. I have also decided to make it my mission to watch more anime and play more video games! \(^_^)/ Are there any new year’s resolutions anyone would like to share? Official or just something you’d like to see happen?

Laying Saber to Rest

You’ve worked on your cosplay for weeks, maybe even months. You’ve put in hours upon hours of time painstakingly trying to get your costume to be “just right”. You’ve sat up nights trying to work your way through complex design problems and spent so much time on the Internet looking up reference pictures for the character that you worry your eyes might burn out of your head. But you’re obsessed, and when you finally get to wear that cosplay to the con, and it’s so unbelievably perfect and everyone is taking pictures of you and praising your work, all you can feel is pride. You smile and pose and say, “I did this. It was all me.”

But how do you say goodbye to that wonderful costume when it’s time to move on?

Recently, I had the experience of doing just that. In fact, I just got back from dropping it off. And I feel miserable. Four years ago, I purchased a custom Saber (Fate/Stay Night) costume online to wear to ConnectiCon, and the following year I even made the armor that accompanied it. Proudly, I wore that cosplay for the next four years. To say it simply, it was my baby. I had worked for months on that armor, and it never failed to impress. I even had my blonde hair cut at one point so that I could cosplay as Saber without a wig, and for this year’s ConnectiCon, I went crazy and modified my own LARP sword to look like the Excalibur.

But time and travel took its toll on the costume, and finally I had to admit to myself that it was time to let it go. But a cosplay like this, one that you’ve spent so much time (and money) on isn’t exactly something you can just donate to the Salvation Army for their Halloween section. Even though the costume is four years old and the armor has seen better days, I knew that I had to sell it. Still, it was hard to put a price on something that you’ve paid for with your time and energy, and something that has given me memories more precious than gold (yes, I might be comparing this to the sentimental nature of a wedding dress).

After some false starts, I finally found a buyer on Facebook who was willing to pay the price I had set on it. Since so many of the armor pieces couldn’t be shipped, I had wanted her to pick up locally. But since she didn’t have a car, I offered to drop it off–in Brooklyn–because she was paying so much for the costume.

Unfortunately, it was a miserable experience. To give the short version, it was a long ride there and an even longer ride home. I got lost in Brooklyn and had to deal with less-than-friendly drivers who wouldn’t give me any mercy, even though I was clearly unfamiliar with the area (for the curious, I live in a suburb of Long Island, and driving in Brooklyn might as well be like trying to drive in Manhattan… it’s awful).

I got lost going to the girl’s apartment (which I would suggest never doing unless you know where you’re going!) and then got met at the door by the girl’s very nice, but very awkwardly quiet sister. They basically took the costume and slammed the door in my face. And that was it. No “goodbye”. No “thank you”. I’ll never see that costume again. Ever.

Was it worth it? I’m still not sure. I was miserably upset leaving the apartment (and then got lost in Brooklyn) and felt as guilty as if I had just put my child up for adoption. As I said, how do you put a price on something that’s given you so many memories? Even when it was time to let it go and move on to another cosplay.

I still have mixed feelings about it all, but I hope that whoever this girl is (I never actually got to meet her) will enjoy the costume as much as I have over the years.

Goodbye, Saber.

A look back at…. Evil Zone, for the Playstation!

Hi everyone,

I know it has been awhile since we’ve updated the blog. I personally apologize, but assure you that we at Senpai are working hard on some really big things coming soon!

Tonight I was feeling particularly nostalgic and popped in an old favorite of mine, Evil Zone, for the Playstation.

That’s right, a Playstation anime-themed fighting game that was published (fortunately, only published and NOT developed) by Titus! Talk about a symbol of the times. This game found its way on American shelves in 1999, right when Toonami was in full swing and millions of young American viewers were being exposed to Japanese animation for the first time.

It seemed like Titus, and producer Yukes, had a really hot seller on their hands. It couldn’t have released this game at a more opportune time! So why are so many of you probably scratching your heads right now, wondering why you never heard of it? Read more »

Fly, Fishie! Fly!: Celebrating Children May 5

Last year, Neko chan published a Kawaii Korner article in our spring issue to explain a little about the Japanese holiday, Kodomo no Hi (Children’s Day). In case you missed it–or in case you’re a new reader!–here it is again with a little extra flavor, as well as that much-sought-after .jpg which will allow you to make your own fishie streamer. Fly, fishie! Fly!

 

Kodomo no Hi (May 5)

Each year on May 5, the households of Japan raise carp streamers in observance of the holiday known as Children’s Day. Originally known as Tango no Sekku (Boys Day), the holiday was later renamed Kodomo no Hi (Children’s Day) to celebrate the happiness and strength of children as well as to thank mothers for all that they do. In a way, this can be compared to our Mother’s Day.

Before the holiday, Japanese families fly carp streamers known as koinobori to represent the members of their household. Traditionally, they are flown from a pole, with the highest, largest black fish (magoi) representing the father, the slightly smaller red fish (higoi) that flies under it representing the mother, and the progressively smaller and smaller colored fish that fly underneath the higoi representing the sons (or children) of the household.  The oldest son/child is given a blue fish. The next oldest is given a green one. And depending on what region the family lives in, any other, younger sons/children are also given a specific color fish.

Can you imagine? Close your eyes for a moment and see spring in Japan. Feel the sun on your face. When you open them, you’re surrounded by fish! Fish flying from poles! Fish flying from strings! If you’re in a small town or village, just think about how each of those fish represent a person. That’s a lot of life!

The streamers represent strength, but why do they look like carp? Well, according to a Chinese legend, there was once a carp that swam upstream and became a dragon. And when you fly the koinobori, they kind of look like swimming carp. And hey, dragons are strong! So… strength.

But also, think about the strength of the community. Imagine you’re back in your little Japanese town now, and surrounded by these colorful carp. I think that that would really be something to see! And the sight of all the little baby streamers following the father and mother ones? Isn’t it great to think that you’re surrounded by so much young life, too? Children are next up at bat after we’ve moved on to later life and beyond, so isn’t it good to know that the next generation will be so strong and prolific? I think so!

In honor of Children’s Day, you’ll find below our signature carp streamer .jpg. Use it as a gift! Turn it into a coloring page for your children! Scale it down to be itty bitty, or up to be monstrous! Whatever you do with it, be sure to have fun. And be sure to do something special for the children and mothers in your life on what promises to be a great weekend!

What you’ll need:

-       A copy machine or scanner/printer

-       Scissors

-       Crayons, colored pencils, markers, lipstick, etc.

-       String or yarn

-       Tape

 Instructions:

Copy the coloring page. You can even get creative with the size of it by scaling it larger or smaller! If you have a multi-generational household, maybe try making the largest for the father of the family, the next largest for the mother, and so on…

Color in your carp! If you’re a father or a mother or an older or younger brother, you might want to look to the traditional koinobori for color inspiration. Or, why not get creative? The sky’s the limit!

When you’re done, roll your fishie into a tube and tape it closed so that you have a cylinder that looks like a carp.

Use tape to attach a string to your carp for hanging. And tada! Your very own fishie flyer! Hang it high and proud and celebrate the children! (or give on to your mother. I’m sure she’d love to be reminded of your elementary school art project days)

Spring Issue Now on sale!

Hot off the presses and ready for your enjoyment the Spring 2012 issue is available now!  Click on the cover image above, or HERE to order now!

As usual we’ve filled this issue with our unique mix of fantastic content.  This time up we have coverage of Gobble Con 2011 and The New England Steampunk Convention, Interviews with Tiffany Grant & Robert Axelrod, A special feature on harem anime’s, and of course much more!

So hop on over and pick up a copy.  If you like what you see tell us about it, and be sure to sign up for our mailing list.  You can also like us on facebook.  Well that’s it for this update.  So enjoy your spring break, and remember… Love is a Battlefield!

Sakura Matsuri 2012

Its that time of year again. The Cherry Blossom Festival is coming to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden! I love this festival. The trees are always so pretty and its the perfect day to get out and experience Japanese culture and food (Just be sure to get in the lines early. Food runs out fast!) This year, its taking place on April 28th & 29th from 10am to 6pm.

Last year I went with S0nlxaftrSh0ck and a few friends.

My favorite part was the Cosplay fashion show. The costumes were all so impressive!  Of course that’s not the only thing to see! The festival usually has Taiko Drumming, Manga Artists, Samurai Sword Fighting, Puzzle Plaza, and a bunch of other awesome events going on. Hello Kitty even made an appearance! (^_^)

Be sure to check out this year’s schedule of events on the Brooklyn Botanic Garden site! Hope to see you there!

The Holidays You Know: Celebration in …Korea? Part 5: Black Day

Hello Senpai readers!

For the last few months we have featured articles here on the blog about how the holidays portrayed in anime hold up against holidays in real Japan.  We’ve covered topics like “Does anyone in Japan really celebrate Christmas?” as well as “What is White Day, and what does it have to do with Valentine’s Day?”

Well, having happily discussed some realities of a Japanese Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s (and yes- White Day) with our readers, we’re ending this series of articles somewhere a little different.

~~~

In this final part of a 5 part series we’re looking into a South Korean April holiday which was created as an answer to Valentine’s Day and White Day. (If you would like to catch up with part one: Christmas in Japan, please click here, part two: New Year’s in Japan then please click here, part three: Valentine’s Day then please click here, or part four: White Day then please click here.)

~~~

Valentine's Day

First, a little background from our previous articles— in Japan usually only girls give out candy on Valentine’s Day.  Boys are given the chance to return the favor a month later, on White Day, and usually reciprocate with gifts, not just chocolate.
What we did not cover in the last two articles is this: the Japanese style of celebrating the holiday is not limited only to Japan.  Some other countries, including South Korea, also celebrate the Valentine’s tradition in this twofold manner.

Yuki gives Tohru hair ribbons

White Day

Returning to the Japanese Valentine’s and White Day traditions, there are different types of chocolate and gifts, and the distinction between them must be carefully noted to avoid a social mistake.

The girl may only be giving the chocolate or gift to be polite, or it may be a sign of true affection, and the type and quality of the chocolate or gift she gives is usually a great indicator of whether she really likes the boy or is only being kind.

Although most aren't this extravagant in their return gifts

Similarly, when a boy reciprocates the gift on White Day (while oftentimes they return something bigger or more expensive) how much so is determined by what sort of gift he got in the first place. (For example, he would give a different type of gift to his girlfriend who gave him an affectionate gift, from the type he would give his classmate who gave him something to be polite or kind.)

But, what if no one gave you anything at all? No love on Valentine’s Day?  No return for your affection at White day? Well, never fear— apparently you’re not alone at all.

This fellow, as a rule, seems to be particularly affected

Whether you were a boy who received nothing (or perhaps only “polite” chocolate) on Valentine’s Day, or if you were a girl who received nothing in return (or only polite gifts in return) on White Day— either of those cases meaning you don’t have a special someone to reciprocate your love — South Korea has a holiday for you.

The tradition called is Black Day. Held on April 14th, two months after Valentine’s and one month after White Day, Black Day is for those who were disappointed in love on the previous two holidays.

by ????

Jajangmyeon- so popular and delicious, even couples decide to eat it on this day sometimes.

It’s a day where people “celebrate being single” by getting together with other single people and empathizing with each other while eating “Jajangmyeon” (a highly popular noodle dish that has a thick black bean sauce).

It’s a good time to get out all the bad feelings about the more romantic holidays not going as you dreamed, and in company that will understand precisely how you feel, or to simply hang out with friends. For that reason, the company a person has for this day would likely be other single friends, or people at the restaurants where the participants are eating.  Furthering the theme, some people choose to wear black or other dark clothes on this day, and oftentimes black coffee is also popular.

The holiday has some following, but is not yet heavily commercialized— yet.

Okay, technically, I think she's drinking tea. BUT WHATEVER THAT CAN BE DRUNK BLACK TOO

Black clothes,check. Black cuppa coffee, check. Sitting alone, check. Now she just needs to go eat comfort food with her friends, and the day is set.

As has already happened with the two more romantic holidays, marketers are attempting to find a foothold in Black Day, and find some way to be associated with the singles “celebration” (or mourning depending on who you ask).
Some marketers attempt to be very directly associated (such as a matchmaking service setting up speed dating events for this day) and others are more roundabout in their involvement (such as the online movie ticket seller who sponsored a black noodles speed-eating competition open for people who bought single tickets to the latest big movies).  I guess the idea is that even if someone isn’t the type to be happy about being single, there might be a perk in there somewhere.

To see how some others are celebrating Black Day on the internet (or commiserate with them!) I’d recommend you look for the Black Day tags on your favorite social media sites, like twitter or tumblr. ^_^  For a recipe for the traditional dish, Jajangmyeon- this looks pretty good.

Regardless of whether or not you find yourself celebrating Black Day today, we  offer our best wishes to you, and hope that this and every other holiday give you a little something to smile about!

Happy Easter weekend!

It’s been a busy week and a half for me!  Last weekend was my roadtrip adventure to Long Island for I-con, the sci-fi convention held at Stonybrook University.  Now this weekend has been filled with Easter adventures, like helping set up an Easter egg hunt for my friend’s kids and her neighbor’s kids.  We had a big feast for everyone involved, as well as decorating eggs and creating Spring and Easter themed chocolate lollipops.  Today is the family Easter dinner.

I-con was a blast! The theme was mostly Dr. Who, since there were several Dr. Who guests.  Lots of panels and Dr. Who souvenirs to buy from the Dealer’s room.  I have only personally seen a few episodes from Dr. Who on the SciFi channel.  I did like those episodes, but haven’t watched more than that.

I myself went to a Game of Thrones panel and spent more of my time at the Dealer’s room.

Besides I-con,  I haven’t watched or done much related to anime lately, which makes me sad.  I have all these shows in my Netflix queue, but haven’t watched them.  I have tried keeping up with the Naruto manga, which has gotten soooo goood! No spoilers, but Naruto’s in the midst of some heavy fighting and I’m excited to see how it all turns out!

The one thing I’ve gotten a little obsessed about lately is The Hunger Games trilogy. I read the first one back in December.  When I saw the movie was coming out, I was over the top excited! I recently had finished some other books, so finally got back to read the 2nd and 3rd ones. I finished those in about a week! They were so epic!!! And, I got to see the movie! SOOOO AWESOME! A few things changed, but overall, it followed the book really well! I hope they make the 2nd and 3rd soon!!!!!  Even at I-con, there were many people cosplaying as Katniss and other Hunger Games characters.  There was one girl who did an awesome job as Katniss; she had the right braid, the right outfit and bags, and even had a bow and some arrows! I wish I had gotten a picture! :(

Mass Effect’s effect on DLC, and major Senpai announcements

Hi everyone,

Many of us at Senpai are absolutely speechless. Judging from the title alone, many of you can probably guess why, but for those that somehow don’t know then I will do my best to explain while avoiding spoilers (as much as possible).

Before I get into it, let me introduce my Commander Shepard:

This man has saved the galaxy so many times that the few times he put it in danger hardly matter. He’s a renegade and a terror to all reporters, but has a heart of gold that only comes out when he’s around his own crew. He runs a tight-ship like Picard, fancies himself a modern-day “Captain Power,” but to most Alliance officials he’s about as trustworthy as a common space pirate. He can beat the man they call Jayne in any arm wrestling contest, and has romanced at least one of every alien species (yes, even Elcor… he was really really really drunk.) He has traveled all over the galaxy but has never been to Cloud City, rumors of him ever being there are completely unfounded. He enjoys drinking, long walks on the beach, drinking, dancing with barmaids at club Purgatory, and more drinking. And he is currently either dead, an omnipotent being, alive on Earth, or a mindless husk… I’m not sure which since things got a little crazy the last time I saw him, more on that later.

And now back to the point at hand …

The Mass Effect Trilogy is, by far, one of the most immersive RPGs to grace consoles to date. Unlike other RPGs, Mass Effect allows the player the freedom to make virtually all of the major choices for themselves. Many of these choices matter and will determine what happens next in the story. The player’s decisions (done through the main character Shepard) carry over into Mass Effect’s sequels, as they are allowed to build upon (or ruin) their relationships with other characters, while shaping the universe (metaphorically and, at times, literally speaking) around them.

 

After players concluded Mass Effect 1 and 2, many of us arriving at wildly different outcomes, we were all abuzz with anticipation as to how the final 3rd chapter would conclude. Bioware developers assured us that our decisions in the 3rd installment, along with all of the choices we’ve been making over the past five years, would greatly influence Shepard’s ending. We vividly remember being promised by Bioware exec producer Casey Hudson “It’s not even in any way like the traditional game endings,where you can say how many endings there are or whether you got ending A, B, or C..”

So one could imagine my confusion when I reached this part:

Here Shepard is given a choice of three ways to end the Reaper invasion in the form of one of three paths. Hm… path A, B and C?

In my first playthrough, I chose the right path. Without giving anything away, I was disappointed that it appeared that nothing I did (in this game or the prequels) seemed to matter. The ending cinematic was much too brief and only showed three characters out of the hundreds that my Shepard had fought alongside, befriended, and offended.

So I thought “Okay, I just got the ‘artsy’ ending alla End of Evangelion, blah! I’ll just reload my last save and pick the LEFT path this time. Surely if I pick another path, it would trigger another outcome, right?”

Well… sorta… it was the same ending again with the only difference being that the explosions changed from red to blue. Frustrated, I reloaded and picked the middle path, only to see the same exact ending again only with green explosions. To add insult to injury, the very last thing the player sees after any one of these endings is a prompt urging them to get DLC when available.

To help illustrate my point, if you’ve already beaten the game or are not afraid of spoilers, here are all the possible endings synced together

Fans largely were outraged that not only did Bioware fail to live up to its promise of multiple endings that would be changed according to the player’s decisions, but that the ending that we were given was riddled with major plot holes. On the other side of the fan reaction are Mass Effect loyalists who justify the ending as Shepard battling Reaper indoctrination. They have expanded upon the small details and inconsistencies in the ending sequence to put together a narrative that does make some sense… the only problem being that it presupposes that this was a “false ending.”

Part of the ending I had in mind started with this...

 

Bioware appeared to take this reaction to heart, at first voicing confusion at the fans’ response.  Founder Ray Muzyka stated:

 ”It’s incredibly painful to receive feedback from our core fans that the game’s endings were not up to their expectations. Our first instinct is to defend our work and point to the high ratings offered by critics – but out of respect to our fans, we need to accept the criticism and feedback with humility… the passionate reaction of some of our most loyal players to the current endings in Mass Effect 3 is something that has genuinely surprised us.”

What Bioware seems to have trouble understanding is that, while it is true that fans are largely upset with the ending, hardly anyone has said the game was anything but excellent.

Granted, there were were a few flaws (most notably with regards to questing) but, up until the last stretch of the game, the writing and direction was so phenomenal that most didn’t notice the minor flaws. Most players aren’t angry as much as they are confused and disappointed. For 98% of the Mass Effect trilogy, Bioware’s care and love for their product is more than evident, so having three different types of endings, which all end exactly the same way, was a shock to say the least.

So we wonder, were they rushed? Were they pressured by EA? Speaking for myself, if Bioware admitted that they were indeed rushed, I’d definitely continue to support them, and I bet most others would too given Bioware’s outstanding track record.

I also applaud Bioware for at least listening to the fans’ concerns and are now “hard at work on a number of game content initiatives that will help answer the questions, providing more clarity for those seeking further closure to their journey.” However, I sorely hope it isn’t part of a 9.99 DLC package.

On the other side of the fence are those that are citing this ruckuses as an example of fans’ sense of “over-entitlement.” According to a recent article on Kotaku.com, indie developer Mode 7
changed the ending of their game Frozen Synapse to include a pony and a dinosaur, and the message “This is the ending to the game… we don’t care if you like it.” Ouch…

Look, I can continue presenting both sides of this, but it is really very simple. Here is the television commercial for Mass Effect 3

And well, minor spoiler alert, after playing through all three major outcomes do you ever really “Take Earth Back” as the advertisement suggests? …uhm…I’m actually not entirely sure… None of the “three outcomes” clearly show that… What the player is shown is much too brief and vague to conclusively say what happened. As I suggested before, the fandom is split with some saying that the ending was the product of bad writing, and others saying it was all an illusion or dream (Reaper indoctrination).

So did Bioware forget the point of the game, “Take Earth back?” It would seem so. They got so wrapped up in making a deep and creative ending that they tripped over their own ideas and ended up alienating most of their fans. What a shame… here’s hoping that in their “new ending” they remember to keep it simple.

My Shepard. Choosing Renegade since 2007

 

Now that my rant is out of the way, time for some MAJOR Senpai announcements…

First of all, we are strongly considering a podcast. It would cover the latest in anime and gaming, from the point of view of fellow fans. We are still working out scheduling and tech, but we are excited to get it started soon.

And secondly, while I will still contribute to the magazine when able, I have stepped down as a head writer. Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere, I will still edit for the magazine, and will write the occasional opinion column. It also is very likely you’ll be hearing me on the upcoming podcast.

Stay tuned, Senpai’s only just begun,

 - Furry Senpai

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