The Otaku Culture

The rising popularity of anime and manga has given birth to a fervent devotion to the media formats: the otaku (オタク – which is Japanese slang for an obsessive person, or geek). Covered within are different aspects of the otaku culture, from figures and toys to odd promotional items and cosplay.

Dragon Ball Symphonic Adventure to tour North America in 2020

Dragon Ball Symphonic Adventure
Promotional artwork for Dragon Ball Symphonic Adventure.

A symphonic concert will tour North America as part of the thirtieth anniversary of the Dragon Ball series through 2020, starting with Chicago, Illinois on Friday, March 27th, 2020.

Funimation and Toei Animation have partnered with Overlook Events and AWR Music Productions (the group behind the Final Fantasy Distant Worlds concerts), to bring the music from the Dragon Ball anime to life by a live orchestra using taiko drumming, and a score by Japanese composer Shunsuke Kikuchi.

While Chicago is listed as the first stop, no other cities were provided. As Funimation’s blog post mentioned “North America”, it is hoped that some Canadian cities would be included in the tour.

Tickets for the Chicago date of the Dragon Ball Symphonic Adventure go on sale through Ticketmaster at 10:00 am CST, on Friday, November 15th, 2019.

Source: Funimation

Goku to return to the 2019 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York

Last year, Dragon Ball‘s Goku made his first appearance in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the distinction of being the first anime character in doing so.

In partnership with Toei Animation and Funimation, Goku is presented in his Super Saiyan Blue form, used in the 2018 film Dragon Ball Super: Broly.

Images of Goku soaring about midtown Manhattan in 2018 were shared on Funimation’s Twitter account.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is being held on Thursday, November 28th, 2019 and starts at 9:00 am EST.

Source: Funimation

Crunchyroll Hosting Special Anime Holiday Event in Toronto

Anime fans in Toronto can get into the Christmas spirit this December with the 2nd Annual Crunchyroll Holiday Party – Anime for the Holidays on Friday, December 13th, 2019.

This festive party will include live music, and a gift box for the first 100 attendees that arrive. The gift box includes a lanyard, stickers and a gift card with a free 30-day subscription to Crunchyroll Premium.

Local DJs include Virus, Pete Ellison, Epikuro, Sixtroke and Panic Pop and they’ll be serving up some hot anime tunes all night long.

The Crunchyroll Holiday Party – Anime for the Holidays is at See-Scape at 347 Keele Street in Toronto, Ontario. Doors open at 9:30 pm EST on Friday, December 13th, 2019 and runs until 3:30 am EST on Saturday, December 14th, 2019. Admission is $10 CAD at the door.

The problem with vintage anime shirts

Every once in a while, I find myself browsing eBay or Instagram and I find older Naruto shirts being classified as “vintage”. Maybe I have a different expectation of what that word means, but seeing as how there’s so much misinformation on the Internet these days, I feel like I must shed some light on this topic.

When I see auctions for officially licensed North American Naruto shirts that are supposedly from 2002, I can’t help but laugh considering the shirt didn’t exist that far back. Yes, Naruto, the manga, was available in 2002, but the anime didn’t start airing in Japan until 2002, and it wasn’t until 2005 that the series was broadcast on North American television (who remembers the Americanized opening theme?). Viz Media, with Ripple Junction, started making the tops for 2005 and selling them through Viz Media’s online store and retailers like Hot Topic and FYE. So when you see the 2002 and 2007 dates on a shirt tag, it’s for the copyright dates of the Naruto and Naruto Shippuden anime series, not when the shirt was manufactured. By 2010, the tags on the neckline were replaced with the logo and license details printed on the inside to reduce costs; anything produced after that year doesn’t exactly fit into the vintage category.

Now, I’ve been buying anime-themed shirts for almost 15 years now and I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen the bootlegs, I’ve ordered shirts from Japan, I’ve stocked up at conventions. I have some of the first Naruto t-shirts that were released for sale — you can determine this by the earlier “Shonen Jump’s” versus the newer “Shonen Jump” wordmark over the Naruto logo. Just like many sneakerheads, I can point out differences and give you an estimate from when that shirt was initially on the market.

How much are you willing to pay for an anime tee from the mid-2000’s?

But I think the real gem was a vintage reseller on Instagram revealed a hoard of new, never worn, with the price tags on tees from Naruto, Fullmetal Alchemist, Bleach, InuYasha, One Piece, Yu Yu Hakusho and a few others. According to their Instagram story, the seller was going to drop the entire collection in the early morning and warned they would go quickly. So when they went up for grabs, I was astounded at the price — a handful started at $49.95 USD and went up, one clocking in at an astounding $149.95 USD (nearly $200 CAD after exchange). This was in August; it is now the end of October and some of those shirts are still waiting for a new home, still bearing hefty price tags. These shirts used to go for $17 USD a pop in the mid-2000’s, so you can see why I find the price beyond inflated.

Greed can get the best of us, and some see it as a way thinking they’ll get more than a few extra bucks from a hapless fan. Uniqlo shirts, originally from the Weekly Shonen Jump collaboration in 2018 and earlier this year, originally retailed at $14.90; you’ll be hard-pressed to find something from those lines under $30 USD or $40 USD today.

Not all resellers are greedy or dishonest. Many are nice people, who work hard to get things we may have missed out from back in the day. These are the respectable ones who are upfront with their prices and do their research into the articles they sell. For example, a good sneakerhead wouldn’t pass off a pair of 2010 retro Nike Air Jordan XI as originals from 1995; nor should a vintage reseller.

Now, there are some older shirts from the mid-to-late 1990’s that would come close to being vintage, those being from Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon, Gundam Wing, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and Akira to name a few. Keys to look for are the fabric weight (90’s tees were printed on much thicker cotton than today), the design and age. Some fade quite nicely, but shouldn’t appear to bright and vibrant as if they were printed just yesterday; image cracking is also a big giveaway. And don’t be afraid to compare or do an image search online. Pictures are worth a thousand words.

So, if you’re out looking for an anime shirt and you see the word “vintage” in title, ask yourself: Is it really vintage? Chances are you’re spending extra cash that you shouldn’t. I’m just waiting for the day when the apparel that’s available now is going to skyrocket in price under the premise that it’s vintage. Based on what everyone’s selling online, that may not be too far off.

Primitive Skateboarding announces Naruto Shippuden collaboration

Primitive Skateboarding revealed they are working on a Naruto Shippuden product line according to a post on Instagram.

The minimalist image included the Primitive Skateboarding and Naruto Shippuden logos, but with no information. Primitive recently worked on a collaboration with designs from Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball series.

No release date or other information was provided.

Editor’s Note: This was a pre-sale event, with more items returning on November 1st, 2019

Source: Instagram

Uniqlo to launch Dragon Ball t-shirt line November 2019

Following their release of the Manga UT, Sailor Moon UT collections, Uniqlo is coming out with new designs based around Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball for their UT graphic t-shirt line this November.

Uniqlo uploaded a video interview with collage artist Kosuke Kawamura who gives insight into some of his work and designs that are planned for the upcoming Dragon Ball UT collection.

The Dragon Ball UT collection is expected to hit Uniqlo stores and online November 2019.

Dragon Ball UT Collection

Dragon Ball as you’ve never seen before! Coming end of November! #uniqloUT #dragonball #WEARYOURWORLD

Posted by Uniqlo Canada on Friday, September 20, 2019


Source: Facebook

An American itasha: Toyota Deku

If you’re in the southeastern United States, you might pass a colourful 2011 Toyota Corolla. If you’re a fan of Kohei Horikoshi’s My Hero Academia, chances are you’ve seen this car – either in person or perhaps online. This is Toyota Deku, an itasha dedicated to the hero-in-training Izuku Midoriya from My Hero Academia.

Toyota Deku parked outside Funimation’s office in Flower Mound, Texas.

An itasha is a vehicle that is decorated with images from an anime, manga or video game, usually limited to a specific character (but not always). Many cars are wrapped with images of female characters (known as bishojo), and bright elements from their series or games. Originating in Japan, itasha (which translates into “painful car”) are starting to make appearances in North America, and surprisingly enough, there is a large group of itasha in the southern United States.

Tony Okumura, owner of Toyota Deku, is a huge fan of My Hero Academia, and it shows. The hood is decked out with an image of Shoto Todoroki, Izuku Midoriya, Katsuki Bakugo, and pro hero All Might. On the sides, there’s a huge graphic of Deku mid-punch shouting “Plus Ultra!”, the motto of UA High School. The details are numerous – the rain guards on the windows feature Deku’s mumbling – ブツ. The rails below the doors include Tony’s name and background – A US citizen of Mexican heritage. Right down to the wheels, which are adorned with decals of Deku’s iconic red boots, and the words “Midoriya” and “Plus Ultra” on the tires themselves.

Toyota Deku parked at the Mississippi Visitors’ Center in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Owning an itasha isn’t cheap; many itasha drivers put a lot of work and care into their vehicles, not to mention designing the wrap and installing them cost a pretty penny. So far, Tony has spent approximately $2,500 USD on the wrap. Toyota Deku isn’t complete yet, as the roof still needs to be covered, along with additional physical improvements to the car itself. Sponsorship is rare, as most costs are paid out of pocket and any logos included in the design are to give credit back to the creators, publishers, and licensees of the series, rather than a form of endorsement or acknowledgement.

Editor’s Note: Nephrus is a financial sponsor of Toyota Deku.

The design itself was done 100% by Tony. The whole car was drawn in Adobe Illustrator using vector art; vector graphics scale much better than a raster image (there’s no pixelation if you look closely). Once the design was finalized, Tony worked with a local graphics shop, CGS Vinyl, to print and perform the installation. Wrapping began with the hood and progressing along the sides and rear as money became available. The roof design is done, but has yet to be printed and installed.

Justin Briner’s autograph adorns the hood.

Initial reactions to such a vibrant vehicle might sound incredulous or even disparaging, however, that’s not the case. Passing motorists will sometimes match the speed to snap a picture, roll down their windows and wave, or honk their horns. Even when parked at a gas station or other venue, small crowds gather for photos or give props; one fan actually stopped in the middle of an empty intersection in New Orleans to snap a few pictures with their cellphone. So the response to itasha isn’t always negative.

The interior in full display mode at San Japan, in San Antonio, Texas.

Toyota Deku has logged many a mile, travelling south to Matamoros, Mexico, and north to Washington, DC, with all places in between from his home base of Birmingham, Alabama. Recently, Tony made an appearance at San Japan, in San Antonio, Texas. So if you see Tony and Toyota Deku, be sure to give them a wave. Plus Ultra!

You can follow Toyota Deku on Instagram.

Adidas to release Kakashi-themed sneaker

Back in June, it was revealed that Adidas would be working on a new footwear line based on the Naruto manga series. A pair designed using Sakura Haruno’s colour theme was shown first; now it’s time for the legendary Copy Ninja Kakashi Hatake.

Photos of the prototype shoe are detailed using colours based off Kakashi’s hair and outfit: grey with olive green and navy. The tongue features a red mangekyou sharingan, and a Leaf Village headband adorns the laces. On the heel, there’s a red ANBU emblem with the Leaf Village emblem above it. Adidas is using the Copa Ultra Boost model as the base, and with Kakashi’s name in Japanese on the iconic styrofoam support.

No release date for when these Naruto-themed sneakers go on sale was mentioned.


Adidas working on Naruto sneaker collaboration

Fresh off the heels with their Dragon Ball Z footwear collaboration, Adidas is moving on to the next Shonen Jump series: Naruto Shippuden. While not too many details are available at the moment, there are a few images of the first pair which is themed on Sakura Haruno.

Naruto x Adidas T-7 Sakura Sneaker
Naruto x Adidas T-7 Sakura Sneaker

Using the familiar styrofoam-like Boost sole, Adidas based the T-7 design on Sakura’s red outfit and pink hair without anything overly announcing that this pair is styled off an anime character. The only real giveaway is that there’s an image of Sakura from Naruto Shippuden on the left insole.

No date for release or information on any other pairs was made available.


Uniqlo releases for manga themed t-shirts just in time for Summer

Uniqlo My Hero Academia t-shirt
Uniqlo My Hero Academia t-shirt with All Might, Bakugo, Deku and Todoroki.

Calling all anime and manga fans! Uniqlo has released a new round of manga themed t-shirts as part of their UT line.

This year, shonen series including Gintama, Naruto, Bleach, My Hero Academia, Haikyuu!!, Kuroko’s Basketball, Hunter x Hunter, Yu Yu Hakusho and Prince of Tennis are given the t-shirt treatment in a variety of colour and styles. Each shirt retails at $14.90 CAD.

Last year, Uniqlo also had a line of shirts to celebrate Weekly Shonen Jump’s 50th anniversary.

These shirts are available in-store and online.