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Doujinshi News: Introducing Sekai Project

28 Feb

Sekai Project is run by a small team of dedicated fans whose goal is to bring independent Japanese publications to a wider audience. This includes doujinshi, visual novels, music and more. As someone who is passionate about all of the above, I find their project really exciting. Getting ahold of doujinshi items can be a real challenge. Many shops, such as Toranoana, do not cater to overseas customers, and have gone so far as to block well-known deputy services from ordering products from them on your behalf.

sekaiproject

Sekai Project had a lot of success with their first Kickstarter, which aimed to localize doujinshi artist Lunatic Joker’s “Moe Headphones Design Guidebook 2013”. The book features information about many types of popular headphones, along with illustrations of anime girls wearing them to coincide with their descriptions. The Kickstarter bonuses included a range of shikishi (or “sketch boards”), postcards, digital downloads, an omake book and even a B1 sized tapestry that will feature a variation of one of the book’s illustrations (voted upon by backers!) Even if you missed out on the Kickstarter, you can still pre-order a copy of the book and the tapestry via their backerkit website. They’ve also raffled off some awesome goods like a pair of aëdle’s VK-1 Classic Edition headphones featured in “Moe Headphones”, and a copy of the Narcissu Visual Fanbook. If you want to find out when a new contest is starting up, make sure you follow Sekai Project on twitter, Facebook or G+!

Moe Headphones by Lunatic Joker

In addition to the Moe Headphones Kickstarter, Sekai Project has put 3 different visual novels up on Steam Greenlight. Despite some backlash from Western gamers (who’ve made no attempt to understand the appeal of visual novels), the Greenlight campaigns have been successful thus far. These games include WORLD END ECONOMiCA, Narcissu 1st & 2nd, and most recently, Koenchu! -The Tale of the Voice Actress-.

WORLD END ECONOMiCA

I had a talk with Raymond Qian of Sekai Project to find out a little bit more about what they’ve been working on and what we can look forward to from them in the future. Read on! Continue reading

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Doujinshi Review: “16billions” by Happy Xpec Friends

29 Jun

“16 Billions” is a beautifully presented Fate/Zero fan book by a group of Chinese artists who go by “Happy Xpec Friends” or “HXF” for short.

16billions by Happy Xpec Friends

Cover Illustration by STARshadowmagician

16billions is printed in a B5-sized horizontal format and consists of 44  full color pages.

16billions by Happy Xpec Friends

Sewn Binding

Most interestingly, the booklet has a sewn binding rather than a stapled one. +10 for presentation! While I didn’t photograph it, the cover of the book also has flaps with shiny red metallic embossing. It’s kind of like an imitation dust jacket. The paper that the whole book is printed on is also quite thick!

16billions by Happy Xpec Friends

Illustration by STARshadowmagician

This is the full wrap-around illustration used on the cover, which I found on STARshadowmagician’s pixiv. (Original Post)

16billions by Happy Xpec Friends

Cover Art, up close!

The first piece of artwork in the book is the same art used on the cover itself. It spans two pages and shows all of the main characters. I think I prefer it with the red sky, don’t you?

16billions by Happy Xpec Friends

Red Saber by STARshadowmagician

Even though it is specifically listed as a Fate/Zero fanbook, there’s some cameos by the popular video game versions of Saber in it as well. Here’s a pretty sweet Red/Nero Saber from the PSP game Fate/Extra. I love the chibi Caster on the right!

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Doujinshi Review: “Ruellia Tea Garden” by phanky berry beats

27 Jun

“Ruellia Tea Garden” is a B5-sized, 20 page full-color doujinshi by 斉藤アキ (Saitoh Aki) of the doujinshi circle “phanky berry beats“. A popular theme among Japanese artists is to create 擬人化 ( gijinka ) or anthropomorphized incarnations of popular objects, creatures or themes. Oftentimes, these anthropomorphizations are in the form of 萌え ( moe ) girls. This particular doujinshi does just that with tea, and presents each girl alongside facts about that particular type of tea.

Ruellia Tea Garden - Cover

Cover

I’m not certain which tea the cover girl represents, but I am going to go with Rose.

Ruellia Tea Garden - Menu

Le Menu

The index page is very appropriately labeled as the “menu.”

Ruellia Tea Garden - Darjeeling

Darjeeling

The first tea presented is Darjeeling. In addition to the illustration of the tea personified, there are facts about the tea itself (such as color and flavor) followed by which months of the year the 1st, 2nd and Autumnal flushes of Darjeeling take place.

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Doujinshi Review: Chromatic Gate – Xenoseries Full-color Illustration Anthology

27 Jan
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Front Cover

“Chromatic Gate” is an A4-sized, 94 page full-color collection of illustrations released in May of 2012 to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Xenosaga episode 1. The book features art of characters from all of the “Xeno” titles, including Xenogears, Xenosaga and Xenoblade, by 44 different artists.

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Xenosaga cast by Otonagi

The book’s first illustration of course features Xenosaga, and is by Otonagi, whose pixiv you can see here.

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Doujinshi Review: 白羽奈尾 1巻 Shirahane Nao vol. 1

22 Jan

Shirahane Nao (formerly known as Dmyo, which I still like to call her because it’s shorter) has been a favorite artist of mine since Icie first posted one of her doujinshi in his late “Hunting the Elusive” blog. She hails from Korea, but now lives in Japan and her Japanese language ability is pretty darn good. I’ve talked with her a few times on Twitter (in Japanese; I don’t know a lick of Korean!), and she’s an incredibly sweet person who shows overwhelming gratitude for her fans’ support.

白羽奈尾 1巻 (Shirahane Nao volume 1) is the first compilation of artworks completed under her new pen name. It’s also one of my personal favorites in my doujinshi collection.

Cover Art

Cover Art

When I purchased this doujinshi, it also came with a heavy cardstock poster of the artwork on the front cover. The contents are an assortment of illustrations from her past “Dmyotic” volumes with a few newer pieces added in.

Touhou, Oreimo and Ranma 1/2

Touhou, Oreimo and Ranma 1/2

I love seeing new art of classic characters, and this depiction of Ran-chan from Ranma 1/2 is just that! Another of my favorite characters is featured on the opposite page; Kousaka Kirono from Oreimo, and Flandre Scarlet from the wildly popular Touhou game series.

Suenaga Mirai

Suenaga Mirai

There’s no doubt in my mind that Shirahane Nao gained new fans and followers when internet otaku sensation and general animu-ambassador Danny Choo asked her to illustrate his mascot Suenaga Mirai. I was both shocked and excited at the reveal of her Mirai designs, and loved them enough to buy one of the giant banners of her illustrations to hang up in my room.

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Doujinshi Review: 猫の本 “Neko no Hon” by Various Artists

20 Jan

猫の本 (Neko no Hon) simply translates to “Book of Cats”. Being a cat lover, I couldn’t resist this purchase. A collaborative illustration book that was released for Comitia 95, it is beautifully designed by Maniji, a group consisting of SHINN and 今井 虹太郎 (Imai Kotaro).

neko00

Book design by SHINN

The cover design is simple and gorgeous. Matte black paper is complemented by a gold embossed title and best of all, a red ribbon with a delicate gold bell.

neko01

by Itou Hiroyuki (left) and Eihi (right)

This book showcases both cat-eared persons… and persons with cats.

neko02

by Kubota (left) and Juunigou (right)

If you’re like me, then you’ll be happy to know that for once, the characters aren’t exclusively female.

neko03

by Sakamoto Himemi (left) and Shiwasu Takashi (right)

Shiwasu Takashi’s piece of art on the right is one of my personal favorites.

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A Handy Dandy Guide to Doujin Goods! 「同人グッズについて」

7 Aug
Doujin Goods

A pile of things I wish were mine. (Source)

C82 is coming up, so I decided to make a quick post that will hopefully be of use to some of you who want to buy doujinshi but need a little bit of help with the process of finding out what you want. If you’re looking at doujinshi or doujin goods, but you don’t know a whole lot of Japanese, there’s some terms you’ll want to know to make buying easier!

All Full Color オールフルカラー – Or simply Full Color フルカラー Means the book is printed entirely in color. Unless stated otherwise in this manner, doujinshi usually contain primarily black and white pages and a full color cover.

Clear Poster

A couple of Di Gi Charat clear posters. (Source)

Clear Poster クリアポスター – It’s a poster, but it’s clear! These are sturdy posters printed on translucent plastic. They look really great when you put them in front of a window and let the light shine through! It’s also really common to find クリア下敷き “Clear Shitajiki” which are pencil boards, but they’re essentially miniature clear posters!

Copy Books

A stack of copy hon by Studio UNILABO. (Source)

Copy Hon コーピー本 – “Copy Book”. This refers to a book that is photocopied and usually stapled or folded together. These are low-cost doujinshi (usually about 100 yen) that often contain comics or sketches. It can also be an orihon.

Dakimakura 抱き枕 – Means “hugging pillow”. This is what we call a “body pillow” in the United States.

A dakimakura cover of Holo from Spice and Wolf. (Source)

Dakimakura Cover 抱き枕カバー – This is the pillow case that goes over a dakimakura. They’re very popular items which are usually printed with an anime girl in a provocative “please be gentle with me” sort of pose. Generally, dakimakura covers are sold on their own and you are expected to purchase the cushion inside separately.

Doujinshi 同人誌 – If you’re reading this blog, you probably already know what a doujinshi is!

Kamibukuro

A typical kamibukuro with artwork by Tinkle. (Source: Rakuten)

Kamibukuro 紙袋 – “Paper Bag”. When you buy a set of doujin goods from an artist, it’ll usually come in a kamibukuro covered in bright illustrations. Some artists go all-out and provide bags made out of PVC with their sets rather than paper!

Muffler Towel

Muffler Towel (Source)

Muffler Towel マフラータオル- In Japan, “muffler” is a loan word for “scarf”. A muffler towel is a towel that is shaped like a scarf. You can wear it around your neck, or tie up your hair with it, or dry your back with it… I guess. I’ve never seen anything quite like it in the U.S. I think they look like really long bar mats!

Orihon 折本 – Literally, it means “folding book”. This is a handmade book, traditionally made from pieces of paper that have been put together and then folded accordian-style. These are often included as omake (bonus items) when you buy an artist’s special doujin goods set, and can contain things like extra sketches or comics. An orihon can by a copy book, and vice-versa.

Poster ポスター – You know what a poster is, right? ^^

Shinkan 新刊 – “New Publication” refers to doujinshi that are… well… newly published.  Artists usually feature a new book at each comiket if they can, as well as selling any extras of older books that they still have copies of.

Shiori しおり – Can also be written as 栞. It means “bookmark”. Sets of bookmarks are a common doujinshi item as they are useful and easy to make!

Shitajiki 下敷き – Also known as a “pencil board”, a shitajiki is a sheet of plastic that you put under a piece of paper while writing. Shitajiki are popular collector’s items among otaku!

Stick Posterスティックポスター – These character posters are tall and vertical like a stick, which is where they get their name. These are often sold in sets. Contrary to the sound of their description, they are not very large. (Average size is about 182 x 515 mm)

Puella Magi Madoka Magica cell phone straps. (Source)

Strap ストラップ – Also known as a “cell phone strap”, it refers to a strap that you attach to your phone or other handheld item with a loop attachment. It is usually made of rubber or PVC and has a charm of some kind of character mascot dangling from it.

Tapestry

A tapestry design by Tatekawa Mako for C82. (Source)

Tapestry タペストリー – This term is borrowed from English and refers to what we often refer to as a “Wall Scroll”, a large cloth wall hanging with an image printed on it.

uchiwa

Various uchiwa by Kimarin. (Source)

Uchiwa うちわ – A hand fan which is often given away as a promotional item. Doujin goods sets often come with these. They can be made of plastic or simply be a  shaped  piece of cardboard with a hole for your finger to go through.

These are just a few of the most commonly sold doujin items. Really, doujin goods can be anything that an artist has self-published. Things like mugs, CDs, PSP (Playstation Portable) skins, can badges and many other small items are sold among doujinshi goods. The more well-known the artist, the more likely they will invest in a really interesting doujin item to sell at comiket. Some even sell custom computer keyboards!

If there’s an item you see frequently that you’d like to see me add to this list, or something I got wrong, let me know in the comments or send me a tweet @ladyriven and I’ll edit this post accordingly. Happy shopping!

Disclaimer: None of the photographs in this post belong to me. They were all hunted down using google images, to use for educational purposes only. I’ve provided the source for each one in the caption. No copyright infringement is intended!

Doujinshi Review: “The Contract” by Lavender-Ice

3 Sep

“The Contract” is another Madoka themed doujinshi, this time by Lavender-Ice and a group of other English speaking artists on deviant Art. I don’t normally purchase doujinshi through people on deviant art and it is usually because they sell out long before I even discover they’re available. In this case, I discovered “The Contract” during its pre-order period and was thus able to get myself a copy.

Book and Stickers

Book and Stickers

All pre-orders of “The Contract” came with the buyer’s choice of 3 stickers. I chose my favorite 3 characters from the series; Kyuubey, Mami and Homura.

Madoka & Mami

Madoka & Mami

The majority of the illustrations in this book are by Lavender-Ice. She’s started the book off with a number of pages dedicated to each individual character.

Printing Close-Up

Printing Close-Up

One of my main concerns with doujinshi printed outside of Asia is the quality of printing. I don’t expect it to be on par as self-publishing seems to be a much bigger deal in other countries. The printing in this book isn’t the greatest (something to consider should you choose to use the printing service that I will mention later) in that is has that “this was printed by an inkjet” look to it, with a bit of screening and fuzziness. I would say it’s about the same quality as if it were printed in a magazine.

Sayaka & Kyouko

Sayaka & Kyouko

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Doujinshi Review: “if ~ to the world which is kind to all ~” by Yuugen

1 Sep

A c80 release from Yuugen (of the doujinshi circle Caslton), “if” is exclusively a Madoka Magica themed full-color illustration doujinshi of the utmost quality. My decision to purchase this book was based solely on the fact that it includes my absolute favorite piece of Madoka fanart thus far. To my delight, the rest of the content is on par with the beauty of this illustration.

"if" cover - Homura and Madoka

The cover image, which wraps around to the back, can also be viewed at Yuugen’s pixiv as a photoset. Clearly, Homura is giving Madoka a good talking to on the matter of whether or not she should become a magical girl.

Intro Page

Page 1 is a colorful collage which previews all of Yuugen’s artwork therein. I’m actually pretty impressed by the graphic design here.

Homura

We are greeted reluctantly by an angry Homura with guns. Of course she is presented in a way which allows easy pantsu viewing access.

Sayaka and Kyouko

Next is a sweeping image of Sayaka and Kyouko flying over the city. Notice that Kyouko can’t even put her Pocky down long enough to go into battle. I suppose it’s a good thing anime girls can’t get fat.

Pillow Talk

It seems as though Homura and Madoka are having a girl’s slumber party here. Oh, if only their lives were so quaint.

My personal favorite...

This is the illustration that drove me to purchase this doujinshi. The tears flying out of Madoka’s eyes as she reaches for Homura’s hand, Kyouko using Kyuubey as a hang-glider and Mami worrying about flashing her pantsu all contribute to an image that brings out the more adorable side of the series. (Of course, if this was all the show consisted of, it wouldn’t be the brilliant series that it is!) I strongly encourage you to check out the digital version of this illustration here, as my photo clearly does not do it the justice it deserves.

Cover Illustration

Once again we’re presented with the cover illustration; this time without any text. Make sure you check out the digital version of this one as well.

Sexy Mami

No Madoka doujinshi would be complete without some busty Mami fanservice. The illustration is actually done so that her foot in the foreground appears out of focus, so that’s not part of my camera trickery. Those blue popsicles that are so popular in Japan are actually flavored like ramune soda. They’ve become a Japanese trademark of scenes depicting hot summer days!

Guest Illustrations

There’s a filler page or two (not pictured) and then two guest illustrations. The bad-ass Homura is by Shirabi (digital version) and the bundle of chibi characters is by Noro (digital version). Shirabi’s Homura is probably my 2nd favorite illustration in the whole book!

4-Koma

Throw in a couple more filler pages and there’s a few more pages full of 4-Koma (4 panel comic strips) before the end of the book. I only photographed these pages for example. There’s more of ’em!

Credits

There’s another collage type page where Yuugen mashed all of his drawings together into one image, and at last we’re presented with this credit page which I sort of feel obligated to photograph just because.

Once in awhile I spend a lot of money on a doujinshi that ends up being mediocre and I’m kicking myself for a long time afterwards. I like to think that by reviewing the books I buy that I can help others to avoid the same dilemma and also discover awesome new artists. This particular book is one I am so pleased with that it makes up for some of my lesser quality purchases and reminds me just why I buy doujinshi in the first place. If you love Madoka and are a doujin collector, I certainly consider “if” a must-get.

p.s. – The actual title on the book cover is “if ~ to a world whitch is kind to all ~”, but I’ve corrected the spelling error in my review title. If you’re doing a search for the book, it may be to your benefit to consider typing in the misspelling.

Doujinshi Review: “Colorful Sweets” by Ame Nochi Yuki

8 Oct

“Colorful Sweets” is a full-color K-on! fanbook by Ame Nochi Yuki, released at C78.

Asuza is the cover girl with her watermelon-on-a-stick. Or perhaps it is only ice cream that looks like a watermelon.

The back cover has  previews of the Mio and Mugi illustrations featured inside on little doily-shaped cut-outs.

The inside cover has colorful stripes, doilies, sweets and all the things you’d expect to see at a shop that sells cakes and candies.

Following the mandatory introduction is the first illustration; a “No, Thank You!” version of Mio.

The Azusa illustration used on the cover is next with a two page spread and inset doily. Notice, however, that on the cover she’s wearing a sundress and in the two-page spread she’s wearing her trademark pink swimsuit.

The Mugi waitress illustration might be my favorite in this particular book. To her left is Yui as a maid. For some reason, Yui in a maid outfit seems terribly uncharacteristic. I imagine she lazes around while her imouto does all the housework!

I love Yui x Azusa images, and this one is no exception. Again, Azu-nyan scores a two-page spread. So cute.

The rest few pages aren’t K-On! but rather various other girls (and traps). This page features Hideyoshi (from Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu) and Misaka Mikoto (from To Aru Kagaku no Railgun).

These are some work illustrations of a couple of girls in shimapan-inspired swimsuits.

At the end is this nice little “Making of” section for the Mio illustration on the very first page. As an artist I always enjoy these sections because it helps me to learn new digital coloring techniques!

For the sake of completion, the inside of the back cover. :)

This was a nice little book, albeit short, and a real treat for Azusa fans. The Azu-nyan and Mugi illustrations alone are definitely what made it for me. You can find some nice high quality CG versions of the cover illustration and the Yui x Azu illustration on Ame Nochi Yuki’s website. Rather than posting them here I’d prefer that you just go to the doujin site and get them yourself; they’re not terribly difficult to find. ;)

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