Archive for the ‘Anime’ Category

So, what’d you all think of Dark Matter Episode 106?  All the pieces are coming together, right?

Well, more answers coming your way next week.  But first, there’s that #Periscope #AskJoeDM event planned for this Monday on the heels of the U.K. and German airing of episode 6.  I’ll be online, live (?!), answering viewer questions from 9 p.m. UK/German time, 4 p.m. EST, 1 p.m. PST.  Swing on by!

Today,  I took a break from the Dark Matter drama (after reviewing the first four outlines for season 2) and headed over to the UBC campus to check out AnimeEvolution.  Akemi and I met up with Jodelle (the star of last night’s episode) and Matt for an afternoon of costumed mayhem, anime swag, and a weird pistachio-avocado shake.  After Comic Con, we figured the cosplay would pale in comparison – but we were mightily impressed with some of the outfits.

Thanks to longtime blog regular and AnimeEvolution guest relation maestro Shane Cossever for the invite.  We had a blast!

Akemi, Shane, Matt, and Jodelle.

Akemi, Shane, Matt, and Jodelle.  

Akemi's photo op with Pikachu.

Akemi’s photo op with Pikachu.

Gintama's Kagura!

Gintama’s Kagura

Rurouni Kenshin

Rurouni Kenshin

Quaint yet creepy mouse person in frock.

Quaint yet creepy mouse person in frock.

Best of friends!

Best of friends!

Can't I.D. the warrior woman, but that's Daenerys from GOTS.

Can’t I.D. the warrior woman, but that’s Daenerys from GOTS.

Is there an airline hostess anime?

Is there an airline hostess anime?

Dunno, but a pretty inspired outfit.

Dunno, but a pretty inspired outfit.

Captain America

Captain America

The Harajuku look.

The Harajuku look.

The Harry Potter wand collection.  I'll be honest.  I was tempted...

The Harry Potter wand collection. I’ll be honest. I was tempted…

Not sure but I'm thinking of making this my season 2 on set look.

Not sure but I’m thinking of making this my season 2 on set look.

Sucker Punch

Sucker Punch

Gravity Falls

Gravity Falls

Mortal Kombat's Sub-Zero

Mortal Kombat’s Sub-Zero

Angel and Saviour

Angel and Saviour

I thought Spirited Away, but Akemi says no.

I thought Spirited Away, but Akemi says no.

Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road

Jodelle makes a purchase.

Jodelle makes a purchase.

AnimeEvolution continues tomorrow at the UBC campus. http://www.animeevolution.com

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While we’re on the subject…









































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Yesterday, Akemi and I checked out the second year of the Cos & Effect cosplay convention taking place at the beautiful UBC campus…

Just some creepy homeless dark elf we ran into ON OUR WAY to the con.

Bear kicking back with friend.

Melty from Tsubasa (?)

Damn. I missed taking a picture of Thor eating a hamburger by about thirty seconds.

Akemi recognized these characters from Final Fantasy.

Hey, lady. How YOU doin’?

Captain Jack Sparrow needs a drink.

Frilly, no?

Convention organizer Antonia and (I want to say) Mark.

Servers of the Maid Cafe!

Apparently it took her three months to make the costume. Hope that included the portable air conditioning unit.

Animal control was called and these animals were sedated and taken away to be released into their natural habitat.

Weird. This is the exact same outfit Carl Binder wore to the Stargate Universe wrap party.

Taking a break from the hellfire and brimstone.

Mutant Ninja Pizza Server.

I’m admittedly no expert but this doesn’t look like proper sword wielding technique.

Kawaii Batgirl.

Tough walking in this outfit, but she looked great.

Akemi’s favorite.

Vash says: “Love and Peace!”

I caught Black Widow just as she was heading in after parking her Subaru.

Great fun.  Looking forward to next year!

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What’s cookin’?

Last night, I had THE perfect meal.  And, by “perfect”, I mean perfect for me.  And no wonder given that my dinner was planned and prepared by Chef Rob Belcham.  No one knows my culinary likes and dislikes, leanings and particulars better than Rob and the gang from Campagnolo/Campagnolo Roma/Fat Dragon.

Fellow owner Tom Doughty texted me earlier this week to let me know they had some very special pork in and would I be interested in having dinner at Campagnolo?  Would I!

Chef Rob Belcham, the master of ceremonies on this night.

So, last night, Akemi and I showed up at Campagnolo where we were greeted by Chef Belcham who had that glint in his eye, the look of someone who was about to spring a surprise.  As it turned out, several them over the course of our meal.  No menus for us on this night.  But I wasn’t worried.  We were in infinitely capable hands.

First up, the corn soup.  Not just any corn soup.  This is THE corn soup, the corn soup they used to serve at Refuel, available only during peak season.  The corn is pressed through a cheesecloth, several times to achieve its thick, rich consistency.  My favorite soup of all time.

It was served chilled with melon and a touch of chili.  I told Akemi that, back in the day, when it was on the menu at the old location, I used to have two bowls – one to start the meal and one to end it.  It’s that good.

The salad included sungolds from Stoney Paradise, the sweetest tomatoes you’ll ever eat (contrasted with the slightly tarter heirloom), along with some fresh basil, mozzarella, and a little something from the charcuterie. 

We were presented with the piece de resistance, the star of the evening: The Pork Belly Rack

Bar Director Giovanni Giardino heard I was a fan of the Moscow Mule and asked me if I wanted to try his take on the classic.

Instead of ginger beer, he uses a ginger syrup that packs quite the wicked throat punch.  

It is accompanied by the same concentrated syrup with overproof.  One single drop will blow away your tastebuds.

The rack was served with polenta, peas, radish…it was unbelievable.  The meat was tasty and melt-in-your-mouth tender, the skin crisp and delicious.  Unforgettable.  

Then, it was time for dessert and I was presented with…

Another serving of corn soup, this one topped with peaches and dill.  Just like old times!

For Akemi, a fabulous butterscotch trifle.

What a great dinner.  Thoroughly satisfied, we – WAIT!  THERE’S MORE!  Onto our second round of desserts –

Akemi loves cheesecake and this mascarpone cheesecake with fresh cherries didn’t disappoint.  Even I was a fan!

“Didn’t think we would let you go without some chocolate, did you?”asked Chef Belcham.  Corn soup, sungold tomatoes, crispy pork, more corn soup, AND a chocolate dessert!  Valhrona Chocolate Pudding with Nutella cream and crushed hazelnuts.  Best Dessert Ever!

I don’t eat out as much as I used to but the dinner made me wistful for the good old days at Fuel/Refuel – and, quite frankly, eager to come back to Campagnolo to sample the incredible-looking pastas and pizzas that passed our table over the course of the evening.

The meal was nothing short of perfection.  A huge thanks to Rob, Tom, and the rest of the gang!




Hey, Cos & Effect (Cos & Effect) kicked off on Friday and continues through the weekend.  Akemi and I dropped by this afternoon and I snapped a few pics – which I’ll be posting as part of tomorrow’s blog entry.  Here’s a sneak peek:

Captain Jack says: “A con? I love cons. Drinks all around!”

Carl’s faves: The ladies of Final Fantasy

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“Garvige day?”I asked.  “What’s garvige day?”

“Gar-vige,”Akemi enunciated for me.  “Garvige day.”

“You mean garbage day,”I said.

“Yes,”she confirmed as if that’s what she’d been saying all along.  “Garvige day.  Why?  How do you spell it?”

“G-A-R-B-A-G-E”.  I said the letters aloud as I wrote them in big block letters on the piece of paper.

She gave the word a quizzical stare and then, brow furrowed: “Gar-ba-ge-jy.”

“No.  Garbage.”

She threw me a suspicious sideways look as though I was trying to pull one over on her: “That’s not gar-bage.  That’s gar-ba-jy.”

I assured her: “No.  That’s garbage.”

She gave an exasperated sigh.  “I don’t know.  English so mysterious for me.”

And yet, even though she’s continually frustrated in her attempts to master the language, she’s come a long way from our first date when she could barely speak it at all.  Today, she can converse freely and is easily understood.  Sure, she makes the occasional mistakes and is baffled by the intricacies of the grammar – but, in all fairness, so am I (as I immediately discovered when she asked me to explain the rules of my mother tongue).  All this in contrast to me whose Japanese hasn’t progressed past the verbal skills of a polite Japanese three year old boy.  On the bright side, my hiragana and katakana has improved, meaning I can now read most of a Japanese menu – although it would admittedly take me the better part of the day to do it.

Still, we’re both trying.  Every day, I drop her off downtown where she takes one or two classes (conversation, listening, idiom), then head back home to study a chapter from my Japanese language book and translate two pages of manga.  I’m about to finish my first book (Baby, Please Kill Me) so Akemi surprised me with two new mangas –

Gintama on the left and, on the right, strangely, some girl's Japanese baseball series.

Speaking of Gintama, we cap off every night by watching an episode of one of the most outrageously entertaining anime out there.  The nightly screenings help me improve my listening skills while also educating me to the nuances of Japanese culture…

We’re a mere 95 episodes in with another 150+ to go.  I take the occasional break to check out other anime shows as well.  We watched the horror-themed, Another.  While effectively creepy, suspenseful and engaging, I felt it ultimately collapsed under the weight of its own overly-complicated internal logic.

Mighty visceral and quite gory.  It reminded me of Gantz and Elfen Lied, two other titles I greatly enjoyed.  I’m also halfway through another reputedly graphic series, Deadman Wonderland, but have been disappointed with the heavy censorship.  Some scenes are so dark it’s impossible to make out what’s happening.  Disappointing.

Thanks to everyone who has weighed in with their book recommendations.  Keep ’em coming!


BoltBait writes: “Joe, what do you think of a story like this?  http://www.forbes.com/sites/larryolmsted/2012/04/12/foods-biggest-scam-the-great-kobe-beef-lie/  Is traveling to Japan to have real Kobe beef worth the trip?”

Answer: Thanks for the link.  A great read.  I look forward to the next installment.  Yes, I’ve noticed a discernible difference between the “kobe beef” they serve in North America and the real kobe beef.  Is the real stuff work the trip?  Well, let’s put it this way.  After tasting kobe beef for the first time in Tokyo, I was unable to eat regular North American steak for years.

jerem writes: “1) It is possible to see one day, Dark Matter in France?

2) Any revelation planned by Robert Cooper or Brad Wright, concerning the end of the arc story of SGU? How it should be end?”

Answer: 1) I believe you can get a digital copy here: Store | Dark Horse Digital Comics

2) Not that I know of.  Given the opportunity, however, I’m sure they would love to deliver their big reveal.  All they need is the green light from MGM.

Kathode writes: “Have you done a carrot ice cream?”

Answer: Not yet.  Great idea though.

cwilmanbunge writes: “Not that this isn’t cool, but is there at least a graphic novel for what the Atlantis movie would have been about, and SGU as well?”

Answer: In my upcoming visit with MGM, I’ll make it a point to ask them about the script for the Atlantis movie.

SISI writes: “Did you ever read Ready Player One?”

Answer: No but it is on my pick-up list.

Lewis writes: “Do any of them prefer any of the superhero flicks that Cookie has been watching?”

Answer: So far, no.  I have high hopes for Dark Man.

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Felix says: "Stop reading over my shoulder."

Hey!  Check out how much mom’s dog, Felix, is enjoying my comic book series Dark Matter.  He can’t take his eyes off it!  After receiving the above pic, I’m now seriously considering casting all-dog talent for the prospective Dark Matter television series/mini-series.  What do you think?  Felix as hot-headed rough and tumble THREE?

Of course, my pug Bubba may have something to say about that. After all, if you’re looking for a dog to play crazed and on edgy, look no further…

That’s just him impatiently awaiting his walk.  Imagine him being chased by carnivorous alien beasts?

Speaking of carnivorous beasts…

I’m an impulse shopper – but only when I’m perusing bookstores and pet shops.  After setting my eyes on the above t-bone, I couldn’t resist. Peanut butter dog treats are also a must-buy.  As are duck toys (specifically ducks) that play a tune (especially if the lyrics are comprised of incessant quacks).

Watched two surprisingly enjoyable movies over the past two days.  I say “surprisingly enjoyable” because I had all but given up on features, preferring instead select TV on DVD (and, lately, iTune downloads). Attack the Block was great fun, a scifi movie about a group of inner city kids who band together to fend off an alien invasion in London. Terrific performances by the young cast.  I had a minor quibble with the late revelation of why the furry invaders are targeting our crew (they jump on the theory as fact and proceed to act on it a little too quickly) but, overall, I thought it was a refreshing entry in the genre. Check out the trailer:

Thumbs up for Bridesmaids as well, the flipside to The Hangover.  It came highly recommended by Carl Binder so I was understandably leery going in, but I wound up liking it a lot.  Check out the trailer (which, strangely, includes some scenes I didn’t see in the version I watched):

Finally, while I can’t say I enjoyed it, I will say it creeped me out (which, I suppose, was the point) – Calvaire is a movie that walks a fine line between disquietingly comical and terrifying.  It’s a Belgian horror film about a guy whose van breaks down in the middle of nowhere, forcing him to rely on the kindness of stranger.  Crazy backwoods strangers.  Check out the trailer (if you dare):

Kind of reminds me of our old Stargate Friday afternoon writers room spin sessions.

On the anime front, I’m 65 episodes into Gintama and about three episodes into two other so-far-so-good shows:

Another, a horror series about a new boy in town who tries to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of a student 26 years earlier –

and House of Five Leaves (with its wonderful opening theme), a period anime about a swordsman who is hired to bodyguard an unusual group –

Just finished up three books – Clive Barker’s Hellbound Heart (a hair-raising read – actually a re-read but it’s been some 25 years!), Julian Barnes’ The Sense of an Ending (which, ironically enough, I liked up until the ending which didn’t fully make sense to me), and the third book of David Eddings’ The Belgriad, Magician’s Gambit (which, like the previous books in the series, offers a nice balance of action, humor, and engaging characters).  Next up is Machine of Death, an anthology of stories based on the same premise: a machine that can predict the circumstances of any individual’s death.  It seems like a fairly constrictive premise but, two stories in, it’s pretty entertaining.  We’ll see how I feel when I hit the thirtieth tale.

Tomorrow, I begin work on the rewrite of my horror script.  On Tuesday, I’ll be having that Dark Matter-related conference call that was rescheduled from two weeks ago (which was rescheduled from the week before that).  Well, that’s the plan anyway.

What are you all watching?  Reading?  Planning for the week ahead?

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Quelle surprise!  The day after my Toronto nemesis, Tara Yelland, makes a bid to be cast in the potential Dark Matter television series (based on the comic book of the same name) by posing with a copy of the first issue, which came two days after Carl Binder did pretty much the same thing, which came a day after Alex Levine did the same thing, which came a day after Ivon Bartok did the same thing, which came a day after I opened this blog up to casting suggestions for the potential Dark Matter television series, I received an email from our old friend Martin Gero who wrote: “I haven’t had time to do the Q&A yet. Cause I’ve been busy reading both the print and iPad versions of Dark Matter.” and included the above pic as proof.  And, quite obviously, as a not-so-gentle reminder of his acting roots.  Yep, it’s true.  After writing and exec. producing on Stargate: Atlantis, co-writing, directing, and producing the feature film Young People Fucking, writing and producing on HBO’s Bored To Death, and now writing and exec. producing The L.A. Complex, the Golden Boy has set his sight on far loftier goals.  It’s no secret where his true passion lies…

Hey, speaking of Dark Matter, my Toronto arch-rival, Tara Yelland, offers a (spoiler-laden) review of the first two issues over at her blog, here: Dark Matter.  Check it out.  Then peruse some of the other entries that deal with things like highly illegal birthday gifts (The Best Gift), bizarre personal factoids (The Facts), her  creepy Winners encounters (Your Kids Will Break Your Heart), and her even creepier tribute to The Shining (A Tribute to the Shining).

So, yesterday, I gave you a list of my Top Ten Disappointments (in no particular order) from my recent Tokyo trip.  Today, I offer you the flip side and give you a list of my Top Ten Pleasant Surprises (in no particular order) from the same trip.  Keep in mind, these are surprises, so meals at places like Nodaiwa and Ishikawa don’t make the list simply because I was expecting them to be as excellent as they were!

10) Hattendo cream buns!

I happened across this little stand in the Akihabara subway station and, after some consideration, decided to try one of the chocolate cream buns.  Then, another.  Then a matcha (green tea version).  Then a six pack of various flavors!  Sweet, creamy, alternately dense and airy, they were a remarkable discovery.  I felt like that archeologist who discovered the remnants of Noah’s Ark on Mount Etna!

9) Lindo purple and golden potato cakes

I shouldn’t try the free food items at Japanese department stores because, half the time, I end up buying what I sample.  Like, in this case, these wonderful sweet potato cakes that tasted like a cross between cake and ice cream.  I’ve never had anything quite like them – and wager I won’t again until the next time I hit Shinjuku Isetan.

8) Henri Le Roux white chocolate/matcha bar

I’ve tried match (green tea) chocolates from many chocolatiers, but none have attained the level of Henri Le Roux’s smooth, creamy, melt-in-your mouth white chocolate and matcha version.

7) Ikura (salmon roe) at Sushi Sawada

Sushi don’t get any better than this.  I love taking first-timers to Sawada because the meal is always an adventure – entertaining, informative, and, of course, delicious.  Sawada-san serves up an incredibly wide variety of offerings: two types of sea urchin (purple and the famed variety from just north of Hokkaido, (tuna) toro aburi with the texture of marbled wagyu, enormous kuruma ebi, and the finest ikura I’ve ever had.

6) The Kobe Kitano Hotel/igrekplus Bakery’s white chocolate brûlée cup.

An original creation for the Salon du Chocolat.  I’m not a fan of strawberries so I decided to order something else.  Fortunately, my friend Keiko did order it and was kind enough to allow me a taste  – or two (okay, three).  Japan is really the only place where my “no fruit with dessert” rule goes out the window simply because their fruit is always so sweet and always so good (a far cry from the sweet and/or sour product you’ll find at your local supermarket).  Loved the the brûlée.  Loved the cotton candy crown.  Loved the liquid chocolate that is poured over top.  And, yes, loved the strawberries!

5) Pizza Seirinkan

Who would have known that the world’s best pizza can be found in Naka-Meguro at a place called Pizza Seirinkan.  Your choices are simple: Margherita or Marinara.  But, really, when the pizza is this good, you don’t need any other choices.  It’s simple but delicious and, if you’re going to go, make sure you get there early.  Once they run out of pizza, they close up shop for the day.

4) Dim sum at Fook Lam Moon

When Akemi told me she wanted to go for dim sum, I was less than enthused.  I mean, how good could dim sum be – even in Tokyo?  As it turns out, VERY good. We ended up going to Fook Lam Moon in Ginza where we enjoyed a fantastic meal that covered all the usual suspects: barbecued pork, siu long bao, turnip cakes, and sticky rice purses.  I’ve been to the original, in Hong Kong, and have to say that the Tokyo branch beats it handily.

3) Wasabi seaweed (side) served with the tonkatsu at Wako in the Shinjuku Isetan

I mean how typical of dining out in Tokyo.  I discover one of my Top 10 Pleasant Surprises at, of all places, a chain tonkatsu restaurant in a department store.  And it’s a side dish that accompanies the main!  Unlike the neon green version that many North American Japan serve you (purchasable in handy squeeze containers), the wasabi you’re served in Japan is fresh, tasty, and possessed of a borderline sweetness.  In this seaweed dish, it was incredible – and actually blew away both the Iberico and Kurobuta pork!

2) The yuzu chocolate at Le Chocolat de H.

More craziness abounds!  Turns out my favorite chocolate on this trip was actually a fruit/chocolate combo, a creation of leading Japanese pastry chef and chocolatier Hironobu Tsujiguchi.  Sublime.  His banana chocolate is also something else.

 1) Berserk on the big screen!

“Who goes to the movies while they’re on vacation?”you may ask.  Well, I do if it turns out my visit to Tokyo happens to coincide with the release of a feature based on one of my favorite anime series of all time: Berserk.  It wasn’t subtitled and most of the dialogue went over my head but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the hell out of Berserk: Golden Age I (Egg of the Supreme King).

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