Open. Open. Open.

Attention fellow geeks. The annual Anime Expo is upon us again.

Like the rest of the anime fandom this side of the western hemisphere, I and my hapless brother will spend our Saturday at the Anime Expo in Long Beach. Actually, I will be dragging his sorry carcass with me to the event. He’ll be the one kicking and screaming.

The expo’s opening was Friday but I had to work and missed the band contest.

This is my second convention and I only go for one day anyway. But this time I will do more than search for deals on anime, manga and bibelots from Japan. I’ll see what activities they’re doing this year. But I won’t be showing up in costume. No way, Jose.

Co-splaying is not my thing. I don’t feel comfortable dressing up as a character in an anime show or video game. It’s just too out there for me. Sorry.

Yes, my friends laugh at me for going to an anime event. The weasels. They better not borrow any DVDs or comics I snag at the convention. Sorry dudes. You snooze, you lose.

I’ll post pictures when I can.

Shoujo Attack: OMG Cute Boys!

My inner fangirl would like to show some more of the reasons why she likes “La Corda D’Oro”. Five reasons actually and they all wear pants. Sigh. Please excuse me while I throttle her into silence.

Here’s an animated music video created by Tsukimorifanatic and posted on YouTube. The song used is “Trouble with Boys” by Loreta.

Attention fangirls. Let the squealing commence. I will now die of embarassment.

A bevy of beautiful boys

Shoujo anime usually feature a pretty girl, some bishounens (beautiful boys), a romantic triangle or polygon and lots of pointless sparkles, swirling flower petals or spring breezes that suddenly appear around the heroine and her love interests. And don’t forget the angst and romantic hand-wringing.

“La Corda D’Oro” or “Kiniro no Corda” as it is called in Japanese is a shoujo tale set in the middle of a musical competition at a high school that offers a regular curriculum and a music curriculum. The students in the music program think they are waaay better than the regular students.

The show, which translates to “The Golden Cord” in English, is based on a manga which originated from a dating simulation game by Koei. I’ve never played a dating sim. My video game preferences run toward action adventures where I whack monsters with a samurai sword or a high-tech gun. And if I can, I try not to rescue simpering damsels in distress.

The heroine is Kahoko Hino, a second year student in the regular section of Seisou Academy. She arrives late to school one day and encounters a tiny fairy by the name of Lili who is surprised that she can see him. Lili was the fairy saved by the school’s founder. The fairy gives Kahoko a magic violin and she suddenly finds herself competing in the school’s annual concours with five music students and another regular student. Apparently, regular students didn’t participate in the contest before. Kahoko is a pioneer of sorts.

Kahoko doesn’t know how to play the violin really. She does, however, have a heartfelt appreciation for classical music. In short, she plays with her heart. But she feels like a fraud later on because she knows her violin with the lone golden string is the one that actually makes her sound like a prodigy.

I know I’ve stated that I hate harem animes but somehow my inner fangirl likes this show which is a reverse harem. Instead of one guy and a bevy of beauties, there’s one girl and a slew of handsome willowy love interests. Swoon. There’s classical music to boot.

Kahoko gets to spend time with the aloof but brilliant violinist Len Tsukimori, regular student and piano whiz Ryotaro Tsuchiura, cheerful trumpeteer Kazuki Hihara, two-faced flautist Azuma Yunoki and sleepy cellist Keiichi Shimizu. Shouko Fuyuumi the clarinet player is the only other girl in the competition and idolizes Kahoko.

It has a nice theme song too. “Brand New Breeze” by Kanon fits this swoony music tale. But if you’re not into shoujo and pretty boys who look alike except for their hair color and facial expressions then by all means steer clear of “La Corda D’Oro.”

My inner fangirl adores Len out of all the bishies so I sometimes let her out of solitary confinement to watch a fansubbed version of the show. Then when I cannot stand her squealing anymore, I shove her ruthlessly back into the inner recesses of my mind so I can go back to watching action-oriented shows.

Paging Sam Malone

Not all anime is geared for teens and kiddies. Hence shows like “Bartender” which originated from a manga for the older male population.
It’s a slice-of-life anime where regular folks get good drinks and advice or help from Ryu Sasakura, the whiz bartender at a small bar in Ginza called Eden Hall. Now either the fansub I saw had it wrong or I need new glasses because it wasn’t really clear if Ryu is called “The Glass of the Gods” or he creates drinks customers call “The Glass of the Gods.”

Each episode focuses on a specific drink, a customer with a problem and how Mr. Genius Bartender helps them by mixing said drink and dispensing sage advice. And in case you want to make the drink, the show ends with a recipe for that cocktail.

The series tries hard to be different by having characters suddenly address the viewer and by tossing in anecdotes or historical tidbits about the liquor business. Cute but not enough to make the show a must-see.

Most of the characters left me feeling cold and several of the 11 episodes were dull. I didn’t get an insight into Ryu’s character even after an episode that showed him as a new bartender making several mistakes. Who is Ryu really? The viewer only sees this smiling pleasant young man. Where did he come from? Why does he have such skill mixing drinks? Does he even have a life outside Eden Hall? And if he really cared about his customers, he would call a cab for them instead of letting them stumble drunkenly out of his place.

Ryu is no Sam Malone of “Cheers” fame. He has no sassy waitresses at his bar and no funny, interesting bar flies. Too bad. They would certainly liven up Eden Hall. Better pass on this one.