Dragon Con brings cosplayers, anime characters to Atlanta

Associated Press: 

Atlanta‘s annual Dragon Con science fiction and fantasy convention filled the city’s downtown streets with people dressed as zombies, steampunk time travelers, purple-haired anime heroes and aliens by the dozens.

The convention draws fans from around the country to take part in sci-fi and fantasy costume contests, a massive parade through downtown Atlanta and educational seminars about science and costumes making.

One of the more popular events at the convention this year was a private party held at the Georgia Aquarium, home to the largest aquarium in the Western Hemisphere. Costumed revelers danced and drank under the glow of passing Beluga whales and sharks on display, and dance-heavy music thumped in the background.

Tens of thousands attend the annual event, which began Thursday and continued through the weekend.

Hello Kitty-themed restaurant in Beijing is now serving up dim sum

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Audrey Magazine:

In the last few years, we’ve been seeing Hello Kitty cafes and food trucks popping up to bring adorable desserts with Hello Kitty’s face or her signature red bow peeking up. With conventions and exhibits dedicated to our favorite Sanrio character, it’s obvious we just can’t get enough. Thankfully, it seems we keep getting more and more Hello Kitty everyday. In fact, now you can find Hello Kitty dim sum!

Before you get too excited, there’s one thing that may stand in your way. You’ll have to get a plane ticket to Hong Kong if you want to have dim sum in this Hello Kitty-themed restaurant. Although the very pink Hello Kitty Dreams Restaurant in Beijing was the first to bring savory foods inspired by the iconic character, this new dim sum restaurant is the first of its kind. Opening this month, it will also be serving noodle dishes, rice dishes and pretty much anything else you would typically find at a dim sum restaurant. Just much, much cuter to look at. We’ll just have to wait and see if they taste just as yummy as they look.

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Hopefully there will be a Hello Kitty dim sum restaurant popping up in the U.S. But in the meantime, let’s take a short preview tour of the restaurant below:

Cosplay music video from PAX East 2015 in Boston, featuring creative costumes and video games

Beat Down Boogie has released a new cosplay music video from their recent visit to PAX East 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts that features excited folks dancing around and showing off their creative costumes based on popular characters from video games, television shows, and movies.

Meet hyperreal android “Asuna”

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RocketNews 24:

Wonder Festival is a semiannual Japanese convention dedicated to model and figure-building which attracts all manner of pros, amateurs, and cosplayers from across the country. Most recently, the Winter 2015 Wonder Festival was held at the Makuhari Messe Convention Center in Chiba City on February 8.

Our reporter Meg was busy checking out the show when she spotted a cute girl standing behind robotic company A-Lab’s booth. “Aww, she looks just like an idol from AKB48!” Meg thought. But when she got closer, she was shocked to realize that the girl was actually a hyperreal-looking android! In fact, many of the people attending the exhibition were equally stunned to learn that Asuna was an android, and not a living, breathing human girl. Would you have been tricked along with them?

Asuna, the android that’s attracting attention from all over the world

People often look at humanoid robots and think “That’s creepy!” However, Asuna is so human-like that you might find yourself thinking “She’s cute!” instead. Researchers have determined that there is a human instinct to react with disgust when people see something, such as a doll or robot, that appears to be too human while still falling short of looking exactly like the real thing. That said, researchers are now investigating the possibility that extremely human-like robots such as Asuna have the ability to bypass this repulsion entirely and be viewed merely as other people instead.

According to her official profile, Asuna is a beautiful 15-year-old who was “born” in Tokyo. She is 155 cm tall (61 inches) and weighs 43 kg (95 lbs).

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Our reporter felt an instant affinity to Asuna’s lifelike movements

Sure, you’ve probably seen pictures of humanlike robots before, but the true charm behind this android lies in her movements. Meg comments that she was blown away by the sheer naturalness of Asuna’s mannerisms. From the way she blinks and squeezes her eyes shut to the shape her mouth makes as if she were about to yawn, Asuna is truly on a different level from other androids.

Take a look at Asuna’s incredibly lifelike facial movements in the following video:

What it feels like to touch one of Asuna’s ears

Meg felt like the secret behind Asuna’s lifelike appearance had something to do with her skin, so she was pleased to learn that visitors to the booth could touch a sample of one of Asuna’s ears. Expecting to touch something hard, Meg was surprised to feel something soft and squishy instead. “Hey, this actually feels kind of nice,” she thought. Apart from having no warmth, it actually felt similar to a real girl’s ear.

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A-Lab, the same company that built the “Matsukoroid”

The folks at Tokyo-based A-Lab have been involved with many projects, of which Asuna is just one. They are in fact the same company that developed the“Matsukoroid,” another android that could be a carbon copy of Matsuko Deluxe, the plus-sized Japanese TV personality known for his cross-dressing stage persona and deep voice. “Matsukoroid” will reportedly join the real Matsuko as early as this April on a new TV program appropriately called “Matsuko and Matsuko.”

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We’ll leave you now with some more photos of Asuna from Wonder Festival. Who knows, maybe a robotic idol group isn’t that far from reality!

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Cute animals in powered exoskeletons: 6 wondrous items from the 2015 Wonder Festival (Japan)

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RocketNews 24:

The latest edition of Japan’s bi-annual Wonder Festival brought out both male and female cosplayers, plus Sailor Moon figurines, which are well-known stalwarts of any good event celebrating anime and the creative arts. But what about the actual handmade models that put the wonder into the festival?

Amateur hobbyists converge at the event to display and sell unique goods, resulting in an array of never-before-seen models and items that can’t be found anywhere else. From ramen kewpie dolls to seductive vegetables, we’ve got photos of the most imaginative and eye-popping goods you’ll see this season.

Sylvanian Families powered up in exoskeletons

These little guys are a great introduction to the creative, no-holds-barred, mixed influence nature of the show. The cute, furry animal characters won’t put up with any funny business in these outfits.

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▼ 2,000 yen (US$16.84) for an exoskeleton set? You won’t find these sets at your local toy store.

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Ramen Kewpie Dolls

Incredibly popular in Japan, cherub-faced Kewpie Dolls are always up for a bit of creative cosplay, having appeared in the past as fish roe, balls of algae and all manner of fruit and vegetables. Popping up in a bowl of ramen, however, complete with cascading locks of noodles, is a surprising scenario, even for this character.

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Relive memories from long-lost amusement parks

The model kits at the Yukinonz stand might look ordinary, if not a little amateurish, to the untrained eye. Nostalgic hobbyists, however, would see this as a unique chance to breathe life back into old fun parks which have sadly disappeared or fallen into disrepair.

Nara Dreamland once shuttled happy passengers around the park in a shiny, three-carriage monorail. Today, it sits lifeless amongst dilapidated buildings, visited only by curious haikyoists, or urban explorers.

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▼ The submarine is another abandoned monument from Nara Dreamland.

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Takarazuka Family Land once had a glorious ropeway in operation. Sadly, the ropeway and amusement park no longer exist.

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Vegetables with attitude

Otonamiya is a company that uses resin and clay to create an extensive range of goods, including the Kewpie Ramen figures featured above. It’s their remarkable harvest of carrots and radishes that really steals the showm though.

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Optimus Prime featuring Original PlayStation

If you’re a fan of the original PlayStation console and have a soft spot for Transformers toys, this is the stuff dreams are made of. Takara Tomy A.R.T.S is set to release this kit on 28 February. Standing at 19 centimetres (7.5 inches) tall and retailing for 10,800 yen (US$90.94), Optimus Prime folds up neatly into a replica original PlayStation console, complete with memory card and controller.

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Venus de Milo action figure

The Figma doll series, produced by Max Factory and distributed by Good Smile Company, has done more than just give this famous beauty arms, creating a fully poseable Aphrodite to keep artists and fans of classic sculpture entertained for centuries to come.

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There are some great gems to be unearthed at the Wonder Festival. With the next event scheduled to be held at the Makuhari Messe Convention Centre on Sunday 26 July 2015, we’ve still got some time to save up for our upcoming wondrous purchases!

Visiting streetwear fashion show Agenda Long Beach with Kyle Ng

Having recently spent a day with actor Jeff Goldblum adding a couple essential pieces to his wardrobe, AXS Folk Technology designer Kyle Ng heads out to Long Beach to roam the isles of the traversing Agenda trade show.

From stroking llamas to the reincarnation of P. Diddy, Ng talkes to various brands about their experiences at Agenda, forthcoming products and advice for emerging labels.

Link

Sony head-mounted device allows users to step inside an anime

 

RocketNews 24:

 

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Anime Japan 2013 had plenty of booths at Tokyo Big Sight advertising the latest anime and hawking related swag, but some companies also took the opportunity to showcase new technology that might be of interest to fans of animation.

Sony‘s new HMD (head-mounted device) takes those who wear it into the world of anime. It tracks your head movements so it feels as if you’re actually inside a cartoon. Turn to your left, and the video you’re watching will swing that way too. The example at Sony‘s booth was for the idol anime The IDOLM@STER and came loaded with two videos. One showed a concert, with the wearer in the perspective of an audience member. The other (seen below) is set in the offices of the talent agency from the anime and lets you watch the cast behind the scenes.

 

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And then there was the booth for Graphinica, a special effects studio active in several anime (The Pilot’s Love SongGirls und Panzer). It blurs the border between reality and animation even further with its Live2D motion capture technology. Using the Kinect (a motion sensing device released for the Xbox 360) and a microphone, it translates movements and voice onto a 2-D character on a screen. While this sort of technology is common, Live2D uses 2-D rather than 3-D models.

 

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Sony‘s line of HMDs puts it into competition with the Oculus Rift, a technology developed by Oculus VR, a company recently picked up by Facebook for $2 billion. The Oculus Rift can also be used to interact with fictional characters.

[Via Kai-You]

 

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Sony head-mounted device allows users to step inside an anime