So how was Arisia?
Well, just OK. A let down from last year’s
, which was fantastic. Though the travel was much better this time. I took Amtrak up, and I’d forgotten how comfortable train travel is compared to those cramped buses. A bunch of us wound up taking the train back because of the blizzard. So between travel and taking a day off work, this was more than I’ve spent on a non-Worldcon convention in a while, since I stopped buying lots of dealer’s stuff.
Part of that was the guest. Last year we had Tim Powers, an author whose work I’ve been following for years, and who is interesting and entertaining and hangs out at parties and chats with the fans. This year, Barbara Hambly, one of whose series I read a long time ago and I haven’t bothered with anything of hers since, and I hear she didn’t hang out so much.
Another was the con itself. Seemed like lots of the usual people didn’t show. I’ve heard that most of the NYC crowd skipped it this year. There were a total of three parties listed for Friday night, and I think they all closed down early. More parties Saturday, but still seemed like not as many as usual. Not many interesting panels, or maybe I’m just getting tired of all the usual panel topics.
Hey, here’s a convention panel idea: What typical advice given at convention panels is bullshit? For example, what advice given about writing is actually some editor telling you her preferences, and doesn’t have anything to do with what actually sells once published? And did the hotel’s key-maker malfunction, generating room keys which expired within a few hours, causing inconvenience for many people?
Why, yes, how ever did you guess? OK, but did you at least see some episodes of a kick-ass anime series that you’d never heard of before?
Funny you should ask. I saw the first four episodes of Samurai Champloo
, the latest work by Shinichiro Watanabe, director of Cowboy Bebop
was SF with a jazz score, Chaploo
is Meiji-era samurai action with a hiphop sensibility. And I don’t just mean the music — one of the main characters has a wild fighting style that incorporates breakdance moves. Despite the first episode’s warning of historical inaccuracy, I found myself wondering: Breakdancing is descended from capoeira
, a martial art developed by African slaves in Brazil in the 16th century; Brazil was a colony of Portugal; there was contact between Portugal and Japan in the 16th century
Anyway, the fights scenes are amazing. The characters are mostly ciphers in these first four episodes. Mugen is the wild breakdancing vagrant who lives to fight. Jin is the calm, quiet ronin with formally perfect style. Each is the best fighter the other has ever met, and for Mugen, that’s reason enough to challenge Jin to a fight to the death. Their fight is interrupted when a burning building collapses on them, they’re arrested for having killed the local governor’s thugs, and Fuu, who at first seems a generic cute girl from anime central casting (complete with pet flying squirrel), shows up to break them loose if they’ll agree to help her hunt down a samurai who smells of sunflowers. We don’t find out anything about these character’s pasts in the first four episodes, but we probably will.
I see that Samurai Champloo
will turn up on the Cartoon network’s Adult Swim this summer, probably with the profanity stripped out. The DVDs should all ship this year, so I’ll probably just wait for those. How about insane crack anime? Any of that?
Oh yeah! We saw the end of Dead Leaves
, a bit of bizarre hyper-violence with a Peter Max color scheme, and two episodes of Time Boken
, which starts out with groups of villains from other anime competing to be the villains for this one, and moves on to an invasion of a land populated by heroes from another anime company. With a special guest appearance by the Gatchaman
characters ordering noodles! Did anybody remark upon your t-shirts?
Why, yes, they did! I got the usual grins, thumbs-ups, and other signs of approval for my “We’re not all jerks”
shirt on Friday, but all Saturday I had people asking me what the idea was behind my “Consumable”
shirt. Which I guess shows that SF fans just think too hard about some things. Eventually I took to telling people it was apple juice gone bad. Do you have a favorite line from a Socratic dialog?
“That is what is wanted, Gorgias; exhibit the shorter method now, and the longer one at some other time.”