Baltimore Comic-Con 2013 Panel Schedule

As the handy countdown indicates, there are only 3 days, 21 more hours to go until Baltimore Comic-Con 2013 begins.  So if you haven't already, be sure to update those comic book lists, make those last minute additions to that costume of yours and of course, don't forget to check out the panel schedule, which is now available online at http://baltimorecomiccon.com/about/programming/.  What/who are you looking most forward to seeing?

The squad here at "Third Impact" will be there (in cosplay!) roaming the halls, camera at the ready with wallets ready to be emptied, so be sure to stop us and say hello :) 


An Evening with Yoshiki USTREAM Broadcast

Yoshiki, considered to be one of Asia's most influential music artists and their biggest rock icon, will be broadcasting his first-ever U.S. solo performance at The GRAMMY Museum on Ustream on August 26th, 2013. The event - dubbed An Evening With Yoshiki - sold out within a few days of going on sale. Yoshiki will be performing songs from his highly-anticipated classical album entitled Yoshiki Classical (set for digital release on 8/27), as well as songs from his globally recognized rock band X Japan. He will also be taking this opportunity to interact with his fans in real-time during the event, including live song requests on his official Yoshiki Facebook and Yoshiki Twitter pages. To round out the event, spectators will take in a discussion between Yoshiki and Vice President of The GRAMMY Foundation and MusiCares about his illustrious career and new album. Fans will be able to watch the event at Ustream from start to finish, as well as Yoshiki's official Facebook and Twitter pages.

An Evening With Yoshiki is part of the highly regarded series at the GRAMMY Museum, which has seen performances by Brian Wilson, Ringo Starr with Ben Harper, and Natalie Maines.

Catch the stream at: http://www.ustream.tv/yoshiki and if you haven't already, be sure to purchase Yoshiki Classical here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/yoshiki-classical/id688431015.


Resident Evil S.T.A.R.S Replica Badge

Hollywood Collectibles has announced, among its other San Diego Comic-Con Exclusive, their Resident Evil Special Tactics and Rescue Service (S.T.A.R.S.) Replica Badge.

Based on the badge used by Chris and the other STARS members in the video games, this officially licensed, Undercover Version, solid die-cast metal replica S.T.A.R.S. badge is intricately detailed, and is complete with a genuine leather badge holder & metal neck chain The metal badge is 3¼" long and the leather holder is 4½" overall length. 34" chain.

The badge is set at $49.95 and will be limited to just 500 pieces.  While listed as a SDCC exclusive, HCG has set aside a very limited quantity of said replica badge for those unable to make it to SDCC.  So if you've got your eyes set on this awesome replica S.T.A.R.S badge, jump here to reserve yours today.


Anime Adaptation of Love Stage!!

The July edition of Asuka Ciel magazine has made my day by announcing that Eiki Eiki and Taishi Zaou's BL manga "Love Stage!!" is getting an anime adaptation! Details are sparse at the moment but you can be sure that I'll keep you up-to-date as they become available. In the meantime you can pick up volume three of the manga and the third "Back Stage!!" spin-off novel at CD Japan starting June 1st. Also, for those of you still waiting on the American market to publish this great series, be sure to catch up on previous chapters from the wonderful folks at September Scanlations.


Sideshow Collectible's Darth Vader Deluxe Sixth Scale Figure

"Tall and menacing, Darth Vader is the most potent icon of the Galactic Empire's might. The product of the Emperor himself, Vader answers to only the highest in the Imperial command structure and is granted great leeway in the work he conducts on his master's behalf. Once a Jedi, Vader possesses absolute command over the Force, and through him it is directed to terrible and often fatal effect. As a Lord of the Sith, the dark side flows through him, and it can be channeled to kill with a single thought or to subdue his detractors, enemies, and sometimes even subordinates. Feared by Rebels and Imperials alike, Darth Vader is a terrifying union of man and machine hidden beneath black robes and forbidding armor. Determined to hunt down and extinguish the Rebel Alliance, Vader commands the massive Imperial fleet and rules his forces through unquestionable terror. " ~Backstory provided by Sideshow Collectibles

Can't... fight... it... Dark Side... too... tempting...Who am I kidding?! Jedi mind tricks not needed. You don't have to threaten my room with Death Star destruction. I want! I have to have Sideshow Collectible's Darth Vader Deluxe Sixth Scale Figure! Pre-order is open at Sideshow Collectibles website and set to release on January 2014.

Celebrating the 30th anniversary of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Vader stands at a glorious 14" high with fully articulated body, fabric body suit, head with helmet and cape and detailed armor and gloves. Pose him as you please with 10 interchangeable gloved hands and lightsabers (hilt only and hilt with blade). If you are one who is attracted to anything that lights up, please note the light-up belt, the light-up figure display base with Imperial symbol AND additional Helmet and Mask accessories with light-up Meditation Chamber display base! As much as I love all of this what really clinched the deal with me was the additional Anakin Skywalker Portrait. Now THAT'S detailed!

So give the wonderful artists of Nathan Eakins and Bernardo Esquivel (Paint), Tim Niver, Adrienne Smith, Andy Bergholtz, Nathan Mansfield, Pascual Wawoe, Bigshot Toyworks (Sculpt), Kevin Ellis (Costume Fabrication), Joe Allard, Pascual Wawoe, Jared Chapman (Design), Jesse Lincoln (Development) and all of The Sideshow Collectibles Design and Development Team a hand! Vader did. Okay, that was a lousy way to work in a pun, but I sunk to that depth in order to end this post on the Sideshow Exclusive you will receive if you pre-order through their website today: Vader's Severed Gauntlet and Hand. Now isn't all of this worth $249.99 of your hard earned money to support The Empire?


Yoko Kanno to debut "PIANO ME" concert at Otakon 2013

Baltimore, MD (May 15, 2013) – The renowned composer will present the world premiere performance of her new project, "PIANO ME", at Otakon. For this concert, the simple intimacy of one performer with one instrument will be enhanced by experimental live visuals that respond to her performance. To see a sample of that performance, you can see it on our website at http://www.otakon.com/.

While studying at Waseda University, Yoko Kanno made her first debut as a member of “Tetsu 100%” which was released from CBS Sony. After the group split up, she became a composer/arranger for commercials, animation, movies, games and TV series. Known as a great master of animation music, her best works include Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Cowboy Bepop, MACROSS Frontier, Genesis of Aquarion, and The Vision of Escaflowne. She has also written and produced songs for artists such as SMAP, May’n, YUKI, Miki Imai, Maaya Sakamoto, Kyoko Koizumi, Crystal Kay, T.M Revolution, Shione Yukawa, Chitose Hajime, YOSHIKA, ORIGA and more.

Her recent performances include in 2008 the “Galaxy Tour” for MACROSS Frontier as well as in 2009 for the “YOKO KANNO SEATBELTS / Chojiku Tanabata Sonic” event of which both were sold out almost immediately.

For the recently released movie Petal Dance which came out in April 2013, she wrote a piano soundtrack which she performs herself. The piano score will be released from her own label PIANO. In summer 2013, she plans to release a score of “Song of departure, which is A Cappella Arrangements for Male Voices.”

Otakon 2013 will be held August 911 at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, MD.

Be sure to check out her super adorable announcement video below!


Morphing Rorschach Mask

Okay, so Rorschach is probably my favorite character in Watchmen -- let's get that out of the way.  And his mask is just bad-ass, constantly influx and morphing inkblots. Anyways, the folks at "Rorschach Masks" have created just that, a set of inkblot marks that actual move and morph.  The trick here is that these one-size fits all spandex masks use a nontoxic fabric ink that reacts to your breath.  The video below, showing all 5 versions, just says it all. Way too cool!! [Source: FashionablyGEEK]


Global Shinkai Day

Happy Global Shinkai Day, a world-wide online festival care of Crunchyroll, featuring the films and works of the incredible Makato Shinkai!!  From Friday, March 15 through Sunday, March 17th, enjoy a special Shinkai Weekend celebration that will promise heart-warming smiles and tears.

Crunchyroll will be featuring three of Shinkai's works from the past, 5 Centimeters Per Second, The Place Promised in Our Early Days, and Voices of a Distant Star, available during the weekend for all members worldwide (excluding Japan).  And not only that, Shinkai's new movie will also being joining the line-up (courtesy of Sentai Filmworks), Children Who Chase Lost Voices!  You can also watch out for daily deals and win autographed goods.


The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim Dragonborn Statues

ATTENTION FELLOW DOVAHKIIN!!! Gaming Heads announces for pre-order an awesome Dragonborn Statue inspired by official artwork, that begs to be on my shelves!

Dragonborn stands powerfully upon his rock base, surrounded by the tail of a mighty dragon. At 1/6 scale, he measures approximately 16 inches tall, including the base - creating an extremely awe-inspiring presence.  Cast in high quality poly-stone, the statue is hand-finished and hand-painted. The Dragonborn comes dressed in incredibly detailed and authentic hand-tailored fabrics for unparalleled realism.

Dragonborn comes in 2 different flavors.  The exclusive version of Dragonborn, only available at GamingHeads.com, comes with an additional alternate arm that holds a fireball spell that illuminates and pulses like real fire. The collector can exchange the fireball for the short sword depending on preference. Also included is an alternate portrait that shows the Dragonborn with his helmet removed. The exclusive version is limited to 500 pieces worldwide and will set you back $329.99.  The "basic" version comes with the long and short sword (sans fire) is limited to 1,000 pieces worldwide and sits at $299.99.  Both versions are scheduled to be released Q4 2013.

The statue, in all its amazingness includes deluxe, full-color packaging, a hand numbered base, and a certificate of authenticity.

Pre-orders are open today, so what are you waiting for?  Snag yours today and be sure to check out the tons of stunning photos here.


Junjou Romantica Suzuki-san Plushie

Readers, you know I love BL.  I love "Junjou Romantica". I love teddy bears, and the Bear of Bears for this BL lover is none other than Suzuki-san.  Imagine as I weep over having yet another JR goody dangled before me but unable to reach across the giant pond to Japan so I can grasp and hug the stuffing out of it.

Here I present to you the Suzuki-san plush, one of the many treasures to come from Shungiku Nakamura's series and its honoring at the Animate Cafe (you can read my news about the event held back in July 2012 and my hunger pains here.  Sitting at a tall 23 inches and sporting a red plaid bow to compliment his round ears, face & body, Akihiko "Usagi" Usami's best bear from England will cost you 8,500 yen from Korder.com.

He's soft. He's adorable.  He should be in my home.


Oh My Goddess Belldandy with Holly Bell PVC Figure

Long, long ago I was a lonely Otaku in high school. The year of this story isn't important but let's just say that I was only aware of 150 Pokemon, I was buying fansubs on VHS from Canada with my unused lunch money and my game console of choice was Nintendo 64. Anyway, I had a Business Communications class with an assigned seat in the back of the room next to a color laser printer. Not only was it convenient to print out all of my daily classwork, but it also allowed me to print out all those lovely Anime and Manga images from the Internet for me to cut out and tape onto my books and walls at home, swiping them from the printer tray before anyone was the wiser.

Included among those pictures were all the figures and statues I highly desired but could not have. After all, most of my money went to helping my family, and even if having a personal credit card wasn't just a dream on the horizon, access to obtaining these items was few and far between (anyone else out there remember loving Yahoo Auctions USA back in the day as much as me?!). Even if I managed to go the more affordable route and obtain the garage kits to build and color myself, I didn't have the tools or mad skillz to make them as impressive as they're displayed on the boxes. One of these long desired beauties of mine was the Belldandy with Holly Bell statue from the "Oh My Goddess!" (or if you prefer, "Ah! My Goddess") series. Several years and failed auctions later I could only settle for the 1000 Edition art print; lovely in its own right but not the same as the 360 degree view I always wanted. Well, prepare for a second chance as Max Factory, who is celebrating it's 25th anniversary, is bringing to us a re-release!

Though made of PVC instead of resin, the amazing top-to-bottom detail of our heavenly ladies stands in 1/10 scale from Holly Bell's sweeping blond hair and enveloping angel wings to Belldandy's flowing and swirling orange gown, all upon a black base of scroll work and blue stones. To ensure its collectible status each figure is stamped with a unique serial number. If you are oohing and aahing over this for the first time or exactly like me and muuuust haaaave thiiis nooow, you can pre-order from CD Japan or Hobby Search today for around $190.00, but you'll have to wait August 31, 2013 before it ships. I've waited this long. What's a few more months?


T.M. Revolution Returns to Otakon 2013

Baltimore, MD (January 30, 2012) - Otakon is pleased to highlight the "Year of Awesome" by welcoming back musician T.M.Revolution for a special Saturday concert at Otakon 2013. He returns ten years after debuting to American audiences in 2003.

T.M.R. was the first major Japanese rock/pop performance at Otakon. The success of that show demonstrated that Japanese acts could find an audience in America by leveraging the fanbase for anime. T.M.R.'s american debut helped bring Otakon to the attention of the Japanese music industry and helped stimulate interest in bringing J-pop and J-rock acts to the US.

Takanori Nishikawa, born in 1970 in Shiga prefecture, made his debut as T.M.Revolution (T.M.R.) in May 1996, with the single “Dokusai –monopolize-”. Since then, he has established a reputation as a singer with ear-catching tunes combined with intriguing and irresistible live performances. Many singles have been picked up as themes of major anime and games including Mobile Suit Gundam and Sengoku BASARA. Since his debut, T.M.R. has built a global fan base and reputation mainly among anime fans.


Rebuild of Evangelion 3.0-- YOU CAN (NOT) REDO OST Review

Shiro Sagisu strikes again with the release of the next original soundtrack for the Rebuild of Evangelion movie series! The complex symphony of strings, percussion, horns and choir as heard on the first two soundtracks has been enhanced with very epic electric guitars to create a dynamic and, arguably, very heroic/anti-heroic musical experience. This two-disc set contains even more original music plus two tracks from the original anime that every Eva fan is going to want to hear. Once you are finished listening to this soundtrack, you'll either feel like a badass or an angel-- an angel like Kaworu!

Unlike the first two soundtracks, Evangelion 3.0 is quite a bit shorter. Don't let the reduction in track numbers fool you. Every track packs a powerful punch. The fun begins with the opening track, "God's Message" as heard in the trailer. How does he come up with such complex arrangements?! Stirring strings starts the piece which gradually builds in magnitude until the chorus and horns join in. You know something worthy of a 3rd Impact is going to occur. In fact, the first tracks on disc one are very intense and very loud.

The latter half of the disc settles down a bit but, not by much. The music becomes more somber. The tension grows. The chorus sounds as though it is warning the listener that something tragic and unexpected will occur. Things pick back up with tracks like,"It Will Mean Victory" (which sounds like it came from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children), the discordant "Scarred and Battled", the epic "The Wrath of God in All Its Fury," and a very familiar piece of classical music for Eva fans, Beethoven's "Ode to Joy". The final track on the disc, "God's Gift" is very surprising. It starts as a mix of diluted guitar rifts and techno-style synth as though it was going to turn into a club tone. However, it doesn't. This track is slow and edgy. The guitar and strings solo is to die for. The trumpet and guitar work in this track is simply amazing. It is a very addictive piece of music.

Disc two carries more of the style of music that Shiro produced for the first two Rebuild soundtracks. There are two more different arrangements for "The Longest Day" from Evangelion 1.0. The first is the extended version "2EM13_EM20_Alterna" from the Evangelion 2.0 soundtrack. The second combines all of the different variations of "The Longest Day," adds in the chorus and titles itself, "Serenity Amongst the Turmoil." Disc two is composed of mostly piano tracks that range from haunting and foreboding to quiet and sad. The next piece of Evangelion music from the television series to be arranged for the Rebuild is "Borderline Case." Anyone with the S2 Works set knows how many different variations there are of this *cough cough* disc 5 *cough cough*. Evangelion 3.0 presents what I like to call a J.A. Seazer-style all piano version and a tense orchestral and choir version of it. "Borderline Case" has always been a favorite of mine so I was happy to hear it on this disc. The second to last track on the disc is the choral version of the preview music.

The very last track is somewhat of an enigma. It's 9:15 in length and called "Famously...". It consists of two piano solos, one long trumpet solo, and a guy reading what sounds like translated dialogue between Shinji and Kaworu. There are a few lengthy moments of silence between each portion of that track. It is the weirdest thing to come out of the Rebuild of Evangelion music series thus far. Even so, you certainly can (not) redo the epicness that is this soundtrack. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

I grew up listening to the music Shiro Sagisu created for Neon Genesis Evangelion. I am very pleased with what he has done and continues to do for the Rebuild of Evangelion series and I will be on pins and needles until the soundtrack for Evangelion 4.0 comes out. He truly is a musical god. Purchase your copy of the Evangelion 3.0 soundtrack at your favorite online retailer today! Believe me, Kaworu would be happy if you did!


Time Magazine's 100 Best Video Games of All Time

I think it's safe to say that we can all agree a "Top Video Games of All Time" list is never an easy thing to do.  There will always be titles missing that for many are shoe-ins, or titles that make it but have no business being there.  Then there's the nuance of titles of importance and titles of popularity, as opposed to titles that score high in all categories of gameplay, visuals, audio, story, etc.  That is always true.  But that doesn't mean that lists don't exist.

Time Magazine has done just that with their "All-Time 100 Video Games" list, and what's cool about it is the poll results showing what the public thinks about the list -- definitely? or no way?

The top 10 comprise of Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros., The Oregon Trail, Pong, Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, Tetris, The Legend of Zelda, Asteroids, and Mass Effect 3!

Other games listed with positive responses include Final Fantasy VII, Metal Gear Solid, World of Warcraft, Castlevania,  Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Resident Evil, The Sims, Portal, and Half-Life.

Check out the entire list here and be sure to vote yourself on whether these titles should definitely be on the list or not.


The Walking Dead Episode 5 "No Time Left" Release Date Confirmed

Telltale has confirmed that the fifth and final episode of The Walking Dead video game series, "No Time Left" will be coming out on November 21st for most platforms, and a day earlier on the Playstation Network! What better time to celebrate Thanksgiving than with zombies and finding out what becomes of Lee and crew.  If you've been keeping up with the episodes, you know how high the stakes are now.

At the end of each episode, stats of what decisions you and other players made are displayed.  It's always interesting to see where you fare with the rest of the world.  And the video below does just that for episode 4.  Be warned though, if you have not played all 4 episodes yet, do NOT watch this video.  Major spoilers ahead.  But if you have though, the by all means, please partake.  It serves as a nice summary and segue to the final episode. 

For those holding off until the retail version comes out (and for those who want the physical game), the wait isn't much longer either.  Remember, the standard version with all five episodes will cost $29.99 and the GameStop-exclusive collector's edition is set at $69.99 and will get you the full game, as well as a huge Walking Dead Compendium collection, assembling the first 48 issues of the comic series.