Goodbye, for a while


I will no longer be posting to “I am Otaku” but please, no tears, because the reason is quite spectacular.

My wife and I are welcoming a baby into our home and as such, if I can find any otaku time, even though I’ll be spending it building model kits and watching anime, I just won’t be able to blog about it.

I may return one day – when he’s 18? – but for now, I hope the stuff I’ve blogged about for the past couple of years will be useful to someone.

Thank you to everyone who’s posted and commented and inspired me to continue. We have a wonderful community and I’m gonna miss y’all. Just keep  your eyes open at the next anime convention for two dudes cosplaying as Lone Wolf and Cub.

My otaku den!


After years of dreaming, it has finally been built – a room of my own.

denI can now display all my toys at once, including my town diorama, and I even have a huge work table to build models and repair robots (my new spray booth is in the closet, but trust me, it’s awesome and means I should have the use of my lungs for a long time to come).

What’s ironic about this great achievement, however, is another massive event in my life that means I won’t be spending much time in my new otaku den for a little while. But more on that later…

Shinichiro Watanabe interview

A few years ago, while working on a story for CBC Radio, I had the great honour of interviewing Shinichiro Watanabe about his hip hop-anime Samurai Champloo. Until recently, this interview was archived elsewhere, but it disappeared, so I’ve uploaded it myself.

Keep in mind that the interview may sound a bit odd: I had not intended to use my own voice on the air, so I’m asking the questions to the translator who then answers them in first person.

Still, you’ll get some great insights into Champloo.

Toy review: Soul of Chogokin Evangelion

The full name of this toy is way, way too long for that title: “Soul of Chogokin Spec XS-01R EVA-01 Renewal Version.” Let me break that down a bit for the non-toy nerds out there. “Chogokin” means something like “super alloy”, which just means it’s diecast metal. The “soul” bit refers to the fact that in the 90s, Bandai returned to their metal alloy toys of the 70s with a brand new line. All that other stuff means it’s a new version of Bandai’s movie version of the Eva-01, which was released a few years ago. This update makes it perhaps the greatest of all Eva toys ever made.

Yeah, that’s a pretty grand statement and yeah, this little baby lives up to it.

First off, he comes out of the box like no other Evagelion toy I’ve seen, in Eva’s true form – the super-skinny, super-creepy organic life form that lives under the shell/constraints. Here’s the part that blows me away – the shell is composed of about a dozen heavy metal parts that you put on. You actually turn him into an Eva. When you get this toy, and you will, here’s what you gotta do: take him out of the box and cue up the Eva soundtrack – you know what I’m talking about, the big symphonic battle theme – and hit play. Putting this guy together transcends playing with a toy – you are close to the soul of Eva itself.

Once he was put together, the fun just didn’t stop. Incredible articulation that is strong yet pliable. A flawless paint job. So many hands and weapons that I will never run out of poses. Dude, it even comes with an entry plug and the Eva’s glowing red core!

My only complaint is that at this price – over $70 – I won’t be getting the full set any time soon. Then again, how many full sets do I really need?

Yes, I know – all of them.

Overall look: the metal alloy gives this dude an incredible look of weight and realism
Design: flawless paint job and remarkable articulation
: the poses are endless – this guy gets the highest recommendation I can offer!

Anime review: Batman Gotham Knight


Set between the movies Batman Begins and Dark Knight, this is a collection of 6 vaguely connected short stories about the caped crusader, written by American comic book guys and animated by some of Japan’s mightiest anime studios. As such, it is hard to summarize the entire thing. Safe to say The Bat spends his time tracking down bad guys and handing out a fair share of whoopass. Some of the stories are predictable and completely forgettable, but a couple rise above expectations and manage to inject some new flavours into this very old character.

When I first heard about Gotham Knight, I had some pretty strong reservations. And in many ways this is the cynical jump-on-the-bandwagon that I expected. However, on the whole, the DVD impresses more than it disappoints.

I’ll start by admitting that I’m a fan of The Batman. However, I also feel that he, and all costumed superheroes, have outlived their relevance to our culture. Still, of all the American icons they could have anime-ized, Batman works remarkably well. He’s all dark and moody and mysterious. As much as these are stereotypes of anime, they’re also kinda true stereotypes.

The standout short for me is the first, Have I Got a Story For You (top picture) done by Studio 4°C, the folks behind the fabulous Tekkon Kinkreet. Have I Got shares Tekkon‘s fluid and surreal look, as well as a storytelling style that flows from a kid’s imagination. It also briefly features a mecha-Batman. Oh yeah.

The rest of the DVD goes up and down and even though I was not disappointed at the end of this ride, I still maintain that anime is more than just a “style” – using it to simply create a new take on old ideas greatly underestimates its storytelling value.