Monday, December 31, 2012

Comic Fiesta 2012 - I am hooked on bless4

To tell you the truth, I had no idea who bless4 was before Comic Fiesta 2012 (*insert gasps from otakus*)

I can explain!

Yet to be watched....
I have not watched Genesis of Aquarion or any other mecha anime since Gundam Seed/Destiny, Gundam 00 and Macross. In terms of Japanese artists and bands, I was more familiar with works of TM Revolution (Rurouni Kenshin, Gundam Seed/Destiny OST) and UVERworld (Bleach, Blood +, Gundam 00).  I still have them blasting from my playlist now and then.

My mom was once quite puzzled by my liking for Jpop music.
My mom: Why do you even like this song? You don't understand what they're saying.
Me: It's like speaking in tongues (Christians will know). You don't understand the words but you can feel its meaning in the music. It speaks to you. (yes, i really said that with a straight face)
My mom: .......


After starting work, my interest in anime dropped. Then I also caught the recent Oppa Gangnam style Kpop fever because we kept doing Kpop dance routines in my dance classes so my Jpop fan-girl kinda took the back seat for a while.

But when I heard that bless4 will be appearing at Comic Fiesta 2012, I was intrigued especially by the excited reactions of CF-ers. Who was this band anyway?, I wondered.

From left: Aiki, Kanasa, Akino and Akashi
An all-sibling group consisting of Akashi, Kanasa, Akino and Aiki, bless4 initially started out as part of the martial arts performing group called the Flying Dragons from Arizona. As a result of their upbringing in the United States, they are fluent in both English and Japanese. With performing experience under their belt, they ventured into singing together. Akino made her solo debut with 'Genesis of Aquarion' and 'Go Tight' for the anime, Genesis of Aquarion. It was a major plus point in my book that she collaborated with Yoko Kanno on several songs because I am a huge fan of Yoko Kanno! Wolf's Rain and Vision of Escaflowne anyone?

I had a listen to 'Genesis of Aquarion' and became quite addicted to it. It made me download the anime. I was unable to make it for their concert during CF though but from what I heard and saw on Youtube, it was a stellar performance by bless4 despite a few technical problems.

Alfred and Shaun in the corner.
During their meet and greet session on CF Day 2, I was definitely sold on how nice and down to earth they were in person. The emcees, Shaun and Alfred had given them a berth of the stage and the siblings instead invited the duo to join them in the spotlight (aw... what a way to win the hearts of your fans).

Emcees invited to stand beside bless4 by bless4.
At the request of their fans, they performed 'Genesis of Aquarion' acapella-style followed by 'Jingle Bells' with their fans singing along. Video can be viewed at this link.

Thumbs up to the Malaysian fans.
Their Q&A session was entertaining and insightful as they spoke about working closely with each other as siblings and helping Akino and Aiki pursue their solo careers. I don't know if my sisters would be that supportive of my writing career but I am sure they will be my best critics....


Q&A with Bless4

Q: What do you think of Malaysia so far?
That's an easy question. The food is awesome, the people are awesome.
We haven't try the durian yet though but we have tried roti canai and we loved it!
(The emcees offered to take them for Bak Kut Teh for a real taste of Malaysia next time.
I seconded that)
Q: Why Bless? We know 4 is four people. But how about Bless?
Through our music, we receive a lot of blessings from our fans. And we want to give out our blessings to the people who have supported us in the form of our music as well.

Q: How do you guys cope with each other?
Aren't you bored seeing the same friend, same family and same people?
Aiki: Working with your siblings is a blessing but when I was a teenager, I hated them.
I couldn't have my private time. We share the same circle of friends and we seldom have the
time to go around alone. There was even once when we were on a train,
we all sat in different carriages. But after that we never sat apart.
Akino: We treat each other as friends and we share our stories with each other.
Akashi: I have something to share of us growing up together. There was this time when Aiki and Akino fought.
They were 4 and 6 then. Aiki punched Akino in the stomach and Akino got so angry, she slapped him back.
(Aforementioned siblings began re-enacting the scene)
Aiki punched her again and Akino slapped him again. This went on for a
number of times until Kanasa had to step in to stop them. As punishment, our parents
made Aiki and Akino hug and kiss each other while saying 'I love you' fifty times!
At first, they did it reluctantly then eventually they started to cry.
From then on, we never fought. Even Kanasa and I.
Kanasa: Because we didn't want to get that kind of punishment too!
(neither would my sisters and I...*shivers*)
Reenacting the squabble between Aiki & Akino.
Limited copies of their album was being sold at the official CF booth, Coffytiam on day 2 but I was too broke by then to afford it. I missed out on personally meeting them and getting their signatures that day!
That could have been me (minus the cosplay)..... T_T
(Argh! (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻)

Anyhooooo, I managed to get my hands on their latest album 'Yume Tsugumi' much later on and I currently have the album on repeat on my playlist. The song, Yume Tsugumi (Dream Weaving) is undoubtedly my favourite. Even though I can't understand Japanese 100%, that song just brings tears to my eyes everytime I listen to it. It is just so beautifully haunting. The English version is also available on the album and I am still trying to memorise the lyrics.
The rest of the album was terrific with a blend of rock, pop ballads and R&B in both English and Japanese. Even though Akino and Aiki are the more recognizable siblings and are often the lead vocalists, Akashi and Kanasa easily hold their own with their smooth and melodic vocals. Beside Yume Tsugumi, I also hooked on 'Around and Around', 'Agare!', 'My Sunshine', Beat Love, Genesis of Aquarion ....
You know what, consider me hook on bless4! I am officially a bless4 fan now! (and like any hot-blooded female, I may have a tiny tiny tiny crush on Akashi...just a tiny one!)
I hope to see more works from them whether in anime OST or a new album in the coming year. Because I can't get enough of their music now. And the next time, they come to Malaysia, I'll definitely be in the front row. With durian and Bak Kut Teh.
Oh, by the way, today (31 Dec) is also Akino's birthday.

Happy Birthday, Akino!
May 2013 be a rocking year for bless4

From Happy Days Ahead, a HAPPY NEW YEAR and
AWESOME 2013 AHEAD to all my readers, fellow bloggers, family and friends!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Comic Fiesta 2012 - OTAKU OVERLOAD Day 2

I admit.

I was dead tired from Day 1 of Comic Fiesta (read about my experience here). But as soon as I reminded myself of the exciting doujin stalls, cosplayers, and photos waiting to be taken, I was out the door in a flash.

Despite having the blogger tag (which gives me certain privilages), I joined in on the queue outside to see how fast it moved and to accompany my friend and my sister. Compared to last year's nightmare, it progressed quite smoothly and quickly for early birds and like the previous day, the halls filled up fast as soon as the doors opened.

Here comes the crowd!

Everyone made a mad beeline for the booths as it was final day of Comic Fiesta and things and products were either limited or being sold at discounted rates. As the next time you get the chance to buy this stuff again will a year's time at CF 2013 so the motto of the day: Buy first, think/regret later. I certainly lived by that motto. 

A popular stop of many was the Culture Japan booth due to the limited edition Mirai Suenaga Touch N' Go cards, t-shirts and posters. And guess who was there. The celebrity otaku himself: Danny Choo!

<3 Danny Choo!
And I managed to get his autograph and a picture with him! Sweet!

The opening performance was by an awesome band with an equally awesome name..... Flying Pan! (readers: ........*insert crickets chirping*) I kid you not! Their band name really was Flying Pan but by the end of their performance, I think they should change their name to Standing Ovation.

Flying Pan rocking!
To complete the opening ceremony of Day 2, a video of CF fans was shown in which they had to answer the question, "what is Comic Fiesta?" in 3 words or less in 10 seconds. The different answers and ways of depicting CF to them was astonishing, some meaningful and others funny. I think this event meant the most to those who poured their blood, tears and sweat into it; the CF Committee so it seemed about right to interview them as well.

Mystical Mirage - owning the stage like a Boss!
Next up was Mystical Mirage who belted out songs from very popular animes such as Bleach's 'D-Technolife' by UVERworld (me like!) and Naruto 'Rising Fighting Spirit' and 'Fight Dreamers'.

And the crowd goes literally wild for Raja Farouk!
Raja Farouk and his "Yakuza family" as he called his band then took over and kept the hype up with a very rocking cover of 'Hana Kimi' followed by a very nostalgic song from Cardcaptor Sakura 's 'I am a Dreamer' sung by the uber adorable Huei Chan!

Huei Chan, kawaii!
Now it may seemed as though those stuck in Hall 2 queueing for tickets have missed out a lot but rest assured, there were things to see there too. Namely cosplayers. A lot of cosplayers have set up shop there to fix/amend their costumes and to take photos because there was so much space!

I was in awe once again at the skills, not to mention commitment that goes into cosplaying. These guys are seriously talented! More pictures in my FB album.


Back in the main hall, guess who else was at Comic Fiesta looking for victims cosplayers and fans to interview! Malaysian Youtuber, Dan Khoo! If you don't know who he is (seriously?), go look him up on Youtube. He's freaking funny! Got a picture with him in exchange for a quick interview.

Dan Khoo <3
The solo cosplay competition was one of the highly anticipated CF events and this year the organisers decided to make it a little different by letting the participants draw random locations and means of death, again in line with the 'end of world' theme to act out in a skit. With Shaun and Alfred at the batang mic once more and at the contestests' expanses, cue the 'batang' and ball jokes.

To quote Alfred, "CF is a batang Fiesta." No wonder Hard Gay turned up....

No guy was safe that day...

Death by Meatball Shower.
"I am all wet and sticky!" she said.
Judges are amused.
Alfred: She reminds me on my roti man. Pom pom!
The Malaysian Mandarin Comic Society took to the stage next, giving out prizes to their gifted talents who came up with their own comic strips and drawings. If only the Malaysian government supported the local comic and anime industry, I am sure we could match Japan. Take Korea for example; a lot of animes have been produced in South Korea.

Mandarin Comic Society
Finally the time came for the most anticipated VIPs of the day, bless4!

From left: Aiki, Kanasa, Akino and Akashi <3

From what I heard, their concert the previous evening drew in a crowd of over 1000 people! And when Akino sang her popular single 'Sousei no Aquarion' (Genesis of Aquarion), everyone sang along. In Japanese no less! (Only in Malaysia, own national language subject fail in exams but Japanese, no problem!)

Check out the crowd!
bless4 shared what they loved about Malaysia and it was no surprise that it was our local food they enjoyed the most. They tried roti canai and said it was delicious! Then Alfred and Shaun offered to take them for Bak Kut Teh the next time they visited. I second that! Can I come too if you do go?
Besides performing an acapella version of Sousei no Aquarion, the band also wished their fans a Merry Christmas with an interactive cover of Jingle Bells. I managed to video it up close (again, thanks to my blogger pass) so enjoy!

After a very insightful and personal Q&A session with questions from the emcees and the fans, the meet and greet session commerced for the fans who bought the bless4 CD at the Coffy Tiam booth. These lucky fans got a chance to shake hands and have an exchange of words with the siblings as their CD was signed. I liked how pleasant and friendly bless4 was with everybody, smiling and thanking them for their support!
More on bless4 here!
Several gaming competitions were also held throughout Comic Fiesta such as IAH Games' Superstar Live and Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom. The finals of the Counter-Strke: Global Offensive tournament between Malaysia and Philippines was held after the bless4 meet and greet. Now, I used to play a bit of CS back in college and I still play first shooter games like Modern Warfare when I can. But the level these players were on was OVER 9000! (yes, I know. I couldn't resist)
Gamers at work.
The final order of formal CF business was the prize-giving ceremony for the games tournaments, CF Side Quest, Coffy Creative Challenge and the cosplay competitions. (Results can be viewed here) Then after that, was part-ay!
As per-usual Comic Fiesta tradition, the after-party was held in the form of a dance off! Too bad I couldn't stay for that too. Next year, I will drag my friends along and join in the party!
By the end of this wonderful weekend (why must it end? sob!), I was in a state of euphoria, exhaustion and was incredibly broke. Here's my overhaul from Comic Fiesta 2012.
Buy now, think/regret later.
While I may have spent a lot of ka-ching! this time, I also came away with some priceless memories like meeting Danny Choo and Dan Khoo, catching a Redjuice-thrown-CF-shirt and seeing bless4 live. But more importantly, I have reinforced perspective that IT IS COOL TO BE AN OTAKU!

Redjuice shirt & Danny Choo signature.
In case you didn't know, this year also marked a milestone for Comic Fiesta. This event has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the Kuala Lumpur Chinese Assembly Hall. Read about its history here.

Congratulations, Comic Fiesta, on your 10th year Anniversary and for reaching
over 25,000 visitors in just two days!
My deepest gratitude and appreciation to the committee members, volunteers and everyone involved for making this event a huge success! I know it wasn't easy pulling off an event of this magnitude and I know there'll be ungrateful farts those who are unaware of the hard work, effort, blood, tears, sweat, sleepless nights, hair-pulling moments, I-want-to-beat-up-someone days and stressful times that goes into making it happen. But from this humble writer's point of view, it was by far the best Comic Fiesta she have ever attended! It truly was an event for fans by fans because only diehard fans will put so much into it!

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to cover it as one of your bloggers especially Wayne, the Head of photographers, videographers and bloggers. I look forward to collaborating with Comic Fiesta in the many years to come!

For more photos, head on over to my FB album here: Comic Fiesta Day 2

I cosplayed as....... Crying-Pokai-Bunny.
photo credit: Su Yen

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Comic Fiesta 2012 - EPIC Day 1

Rumour has it that the end of the world was postponed for another 500 years after The Powers That Be found out that Comic Fiesta 2012 was to be held on 22 and 23 Dec at KL Convention Center. So if you think about it, Comic Fiesta saved the world.

Thoughtfully packaged tickets.
I have been going for Comic Fiesta for the past 4 years, thanks to my cosplaying cousin from Kuching and it has become some sort of a tradition for me and my sis now. Why? Because Comic Fiesta is the only place where I can unleash my inner otaku without judgement! This year, I decided to try out as an volunteer blogger and was selected along with a few others like Jane and Matilda. Check out their blogs ya!

I was up at 5am on the first day of Comic Fiesta because I am that gungho! I had my last bootcamp session of the year that morning. By the time I reached KLCC, a long line had already formed outside the hall at 730am.
By 830am, the line had extended along the pathway to the shopping mall. This only serves to prove the growing madness that was Comic Fiesta. Can't say I was surprised though considering the impressive line up of acts and international VIPs scheduled to appear (you will see).
While snapping pictures outside, I bumped into two of my former high school mates. Teo Elaine (in the middle) was Comic Fiesta's Head of Art so all the banners, stage designs and artworks that caught your eyes were all her and her team.

As soon as the doors opened at 10am, early-bird ticket holders flooded the halls, many of which were diehard Anime, Comic and Game (ACG) fans and cosplayers. This year's booths had so many things to see, do and buy! Sigh, there goes my hard-earned cash....
Colourful keychains.
Doujin booths.

Taking to the stage once more as emcees were the comical duo, Shaun and Alfred. They kept the crowd entertained and rolling on the floor in laughter throughout the event with their thinly-veiled crude jokes and antics. I heard plenty of batang and bola jokes on both days from these two ...sweatdrop....
Awesome emcees, Shaun and Alfred.
Comic Fiesta was officially launched with a beautifully made video featuring Coffy and Mirai Suenaga. I was definitely impressive the quality of work and creativity placed into the video! Very worthy of an Iron Man anime!. Check out the video below:
Local bands Alien Dork Fuse(ADF), Divine Reborn and Temjin then took to the stage and warmed up the crowd with their melodious renditions of familiar anime songs such as from Rurouni Kenshin, Doraemon and even Power Rangers! I grew up with those songs!...Damn I feel old now.

Alien Dork Fuse.

Divine Reborn
There was also a group cosplay competition and since the theme of Comic Fiesta this year was 'End of the World', each team had to put on a skit with that particular theme. Their performances were interesting, some super hilarious and I admired the effort they have placed into their skit. My personal favourite was Team Syok Sendiri who played out the R-rated anime version of the PowerPuff Girls, Panty and Stocking. (Er, minus Panty who was probably doing you-know-what-if-you-watch-the-anime).

Stocking versus evil MJ.
Speaking of cosplayers, here are some of the awesome cosplaying I spotted while wandering around on the first Day 1. Got to admire their commitment to their characters and the detailing of their outfits!

The Red Queen
Kenshin from Rurouni Kenshin
Cute Chobits!
Danny Choo finally took the stage in the afternoon! Yay! I enjoy watching Culture Japan. Keeps me motivated to visit the country one day. He has never been able to make it for Comic Fiesta previously so it was a huge deal to have him here this time! He talked about a number of things including his latest series, Japan Mode and choosing a career path that you love and not because society tells you to. That's good advice, one that I follow personally.

Danny wasn't the only mega celeb at the event because the next special guest was Supercell's RedJuice, the man behind the character designs for latest hit anime, Guilty Crown especially Inori and Tsugumi. After Redjuice answering some fan questions, Shaun and Alfred opened to the floor to a quiz session and participants were tormented rewarded with Redjuice's signature!

Redjuice (mid) with the Guilty Crown cosplayers.

Now as Shaun and Alfred were banned from throwing things into the crowd, they invited Redjuice to do so instead with a Comic Fiesta 2012 T-shirt. With everyone waiting in anticipation and ready to pounce, Redjuice threw the shirt. And guess who caught it.

And there it goes!
Yup, yours truly. Here's a narrative of that moment:
"Must get pictures for my blog. Snap snap snap. Oh, look. He's throwing the shirt....Look at it fly....turning in midair....why is it falling towards me? Why is my hand reaching out? Hey, look, I caught it. Ow ow ow!"

Got nearly crushed by the horde of people behind me but it was worth it! Hehehe. Best first day of Comic Fiesta ever.

The event continued on with more talented local acts such as violinist Nisa Addina, band Harmonia ACG and singer Shiomaru before officially ending at 730pm. I say officially ending because unofficially, it continued with a concert by Bless4!

Unfortunately I couldn't stay for the concert because I was dead tired but from what I heard, it was a killer performance by the sibling band.

Day 1 of Comic Fiesta was, for a lack of a better word, EPIC!

 It was OVER 9000!!!
I got to meet a lot of friends, old and new, see Danny Choo and Redjuice live, took loads of pictures of sporting and dedicated cosplayers and went on a mad spending spree.

And it only got better on Day 2. Read on here!

For more photos, head on over to my FB album here: Comic Fiesta Day 1

I cosplayed as....Exasperated-Undercover-Blogger

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Posh! nail spa SS2 Launch

The saying 'diamonds are a girl's bestfriend' rarely rings true today. Too expensive to afford and too damn risky to wear out. Especially in Malaysia. On the other hand (pun!), pampering yourself to a mani-pedi is now the way to go. A fresh new colour on your nails and you immediately feel like a new lady.

All the pretty colours, all in a row.
For those living in Petaling Jaya, you now have the closer-to-home option of doing your nails at the newly opened POSH! Nail Spa outlet in SS2. Located in the less busy part of SS2, this second outlet of Posh! is tucked away in a housing neighbourhood where parking is not much of a problem. The launch party was held early this month, just in time for the festive seasons!

Decorated in purple and pink - the official colours of Posh!, the salon opened its doors to old and new customers and goodie bags were handled out upon registration. While waiting for the event to kick off, guests were treated to a complimentary express manicure service. And by express, it took 15 minutes to have your nails done probably because of their special quick-drying top coat and also because their manicurists were very efficient with their work.

Express manicures.

 The event was hosted by the beautiful and engaging Belinda Chee who invited the owner of Posh!, Sereen Eng and her sister to conduct the opening ceremony. And pop! goes the wine bottle.

Pretty in purple - Belinda Chee

The sisters duo.
The event continued on inside with wine tasting by Adventure & Leisure who generously sponsored the wines and champagnes. Food and drinks were served along with sweet pink and purple cupcakes.

Cupcakes and newly painted nails.
And once everyone was good and drunk mingling and chatting up a storm, Sereen gave her speech, thanking everyone for their support and especially her family whom were all present at the launch too. Her daughter, Yuri was so adorable! Imagine a blur of white suddenly running past you with three coloured balloons floating behind her because they were tied to her hairband and wrists. Too cute!

Owner Sereen.
Lucky draw numbers were drawn by little Yuri who did her job with enthusiasm! There was also a quiz session with Belinda and all you had to do was answer the questions about Posh! Almost everyone went home with a prize that day.

The little lady at work.

This hardworking blogger won the grand prize!
I won a Bikini wax session in the lucky draw while my friend, Olivia won a quick-drying top coat polish for spelling out Posh!. But the grand lucky draw prize went to my other friend, Senri who went home with a box filled with a balloon, teddy bear and chocolates! You can read about her post on this event here!
To end, here's a photo of little Yuri attending to her grandma's nails like a boss!
Posh! Nail Spa
31, Lorong Dato Sulaiman 7, Taman Tun Dr Ismail 60000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Phone 03.7724.1890
23, JLN SS2/30 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
Phone 03.7877.0815