Kart in the Park hits Washington Sq.

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June 30, 2016- Sara Barton

As journalists it’s our job to chase after a scoop, yet sometimes the stories find us. I was passing through Washington Sq. Park; when I spotted something out of the ordinary. A group of people playing Nintendo’s Mario Kart 64 (N64 version) next to the large fountain near the Washington Sq. Arch.

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Retro video games are making a comeback. The hunger for childhood nostalgia has lead to the creation of bar & arcade chain, Barcade, the low key LES joint, Two-Bits Retro Arcade, Modern Pinball NYC; and the meetup group Retro Game Night NYC (just to name a few). It’s a fitting tribute, since these classic games made their debut in dive bars during the 1970’s.

Retro Game Night NYC, (sponsored by Video Games NY), hosts their events mainly at the East Village’s, Bar None and uses the original gaming systems (N64, Sega Genesis, NES, among a few others). Nevertheless, aside from being alfresco and child-friendly; this set up is ingenious. Mario Kart 64 was broadcast via a projector/film screen, the game is hosted on raspberry pi (a small emulator), which is powered by a cell-phone battery. It’s a light and compact system; talk about mobility!

Teaching the younger generation

Teaching the younger generation

Welcome to Kart in Park, found by Nico Martiny, who simply wanted to spread joy and whimsy. “Who wouldn’t want to play video games outside?”, as he playfully put it. Kart in the Park has hosted 5 events and is planning on expanding to Madison Square Park and Bryant Park. Nico hopes to feature other classic games, such as: the N64’s beloved Super Smash Bros. and The Simpsons Arcade.

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It’s been 20 years since the N64 was released and video game technology has come a long way. The N64 lacks the fluidity and cruise control of the Nintendo Wii. However, Kart in the Park is about the experience. I played alongside a variety of players and we had a blast. At the end of the night, having fun is what really matters.

Kart in the Park’s schedule can be found on their FB page.

SBR’s Top 10 Countdown: NYCC 2015!

-Oct. 12, 20 15- Sara Barton and Anita C. Wang

As 2015’s New York Comic Con (NYCC) comes to a close; Samurai Beat Radio (SBR) is counting down our Top 10 favorites. {Drum roll if you please}

10) The Progressive Lockers

For the 1st time in NYCC history attendees had access to free storage courtesy of Progressive Insurance. These wonderful lockers were a god-send and hopefully they’ll return for NYCC 2016.

9) Coffee-Mate in the Press Room

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Another 1st- Coffee in the Press Room!  SBR correspondents among other fellow journalists were very grateful to have coffee in the press room.Thanks to Coffee-Mate for their generous donation.
(photo: Sara Barton)

8) The Jelly Empire

The Jelly Empire makes its mark on The Block. Jelly, is a robot who travels to Earth and falls in love with human Pop-Culture. Selina Briggs, is the creator/artist for The Jelly Empire. The Empire consists of: comic books, stickers, art-prints, necklaces, jelly-magnets, tote-bags and a kickstarter campaign for an adorable Jelly plush toy.

7) NYCC Sports Fans 

We noticed a high influx of sports fans this year; including a few  unique cosplay mash-ups, such as: Spider-Mets and Captain America(in a custom sports jersey.) Even Simplicity Patterns got in on the action displaying their own NY Giants superhero-costume.
(Spider Mets photo via: Tuesday Night Movies)

6) Back to the Future

Back to the Future cruised on to NYCC show floor for their 30th anniversary- In Style!  A replica of Cafe 80’s was built; showcasing the famous DeLorean(autographed by the cast) and promoting the release of Pepsi Perfect. Each day, 20 lucky winners had a chance this special bottle before it went on sale.

5) DC Superhero Girls

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DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation, Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Mattel have teamed up to create a superhero storytelling universe that is geared entirely toward young girls. DC Super Hero Girls features DC Comics’ female characters as teens.  The premise of the TV series deals with all the awkwardness of growing up (with the added stress of having superpowers). DC Super Hero Girls stars heroes such as: Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, Harley Quinn, Bumble Bee, Poison Ivy, Katana and many more. The characters will be in their formative years and not quite at the top of their superhero (or -villain) game.
(photo: Knightmare6 )

4) Wikia Fantasy Food Truck

Always wondered what your favorite fictional  cartoon/video game snacks taste like? Wonder no more thanks to the Wikia Fantasy Food Truck. This years fantasy foods brought to life: Cookie Cat from ‘Steven Universe’, Nuke Cola from Bethesda’s ‘Fallout’ franchise,  Mabel Juice from Disney X D’s ‘Gravity Falls’, Greedy Milk from the video game ‘Warframe’. I received a Critical Roll!  Anita’s rating: Delicious!

3) Charles Battersby

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Charles Battersby is a play-write/actor/video game journalist; and is well-known for his crossplay(gender-bending cosplay). His elegant Princess Peach and Disney mash-up (Cinderella/Belle) ball gowns are a sight to behold. Charles is also the founder of PressXY, which addresses transgender issues in video games. You can often see him moderating panels on transgender themes in comic books nationwide. He’s crossplaying a lovely Bio-Shock gown.
(photo: Sara Barton)

2) Anita gets a photograph with Steven Blum!

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Steven Blum is an American voice actor who’s career spans from: anime, animation, video games and film. Among NYCC fans he’s best known for voicing Cartoon Network’s Toonami host, TOM, Spike from Cowboy Bebop, Amon from The Legend of Korra. His film credits including The Boxtrolls and A Cat in Paris(Englishdub). Steven, along with rapper, Logic were co-moderating to promote Logic’s, hip hop album/motion picture, The Incredible True Story. After the panel, Steven stayed for autographs and photos; Anita got the photo of a lifetime.

We saved the best for last. SBR’s #1 favorite moment:

1) Naruto Creator Masashi Kishimoto makes his 1st US appearance!!

It’s a series of 1st’s! His first time in the US, in NYC and at US convention. New York Comic Con warmly welcomed Masashi Kishimoto, the creator of the manga series, Naruto. He recently completed the series at 72 volumes and was eager to answer questions. Check out this heartfelt interview.  (Footage courtesy of Anime Games Online)

Waku Waku + NYC at Kinokuniya

August 22, 2015,  -S. Barton

Waku Waku +NYC, a new Japanese pop-culture festival taking place next weekend in Brooklyn, held a special event at Kinokuniya.

Haven’t heard of Waku Waku +NYC? This festival is a fusion of Japanese pop culture and Brooklyn culture. It brings together the worlds of anime, manga, music, food, film, and fashion inside Brooklyn’s Greenpoint and Williamsburg neighborhoods. Featuring exhibits, panels, screenings, and interactive events across multiple locations. The name itself,  “Waku Waku” (わくわく) is a Japanese word for “excitement”; along with strong sense of anticipation for a marvelous occurrence.

The festival may only be a week away, nonetheless, the Kinokuniya event was indeed exciting. It included last minute ticket sales and a raffle for weekend passes and puzzles from the popular anime/manga series Sword Art Online and Magi The Labyrinth Of Magic.

The raffles were held every 1/2 hour from 1-4 pm, there was even a last chance raffle at 4:30 pm. Over 10 lucky winners went home with weekend passes, (a $65 dollar value); and even this reporter got lucky and won a Sword Art Online puzzle. Anticipation is already in the air with a strong sense for a marvelous occurrence next weekend.

Waku Waku +NYC is Saturday, August 29 and Sunday, August 30 from 10:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. To purchase tickets, please visit: http://wakuwakunyc.com/

Yoshiki + X Japan Return to NYC!

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Oct 11, 2014- Sara Barton

Yoshiki and his band, X Japan, have returned to NYC making an appearance at New York Comic Con(NYCC) 2014 and later performing at Madison Square Garden. Fans have eagerly waited for the return of X Japan and the surprises that are in store at their NYCC panel.

We remember that iconic moment at New York Comic Con 2010 when a surprise guest appeared at Yoshiki’s panel. It was the legend himself, Stan Lee.  However, the reason this moment is cemented in NYCC history is due to an unexpected twist, as Stan Lee had joined Yoshiki to announce their creation of the comic book, Blood Red Dragon.

The big questions are: “What will Yoshiki and X Japan do next?” and “Will Stan Lee make an appearance?”

Yoshiki is a very talented musician whose career is the embodiment of surprise. Originally trained as a classical pianist, at age 10, Yoshiki’s life changed when he listened to a KISS album. He and his childhood friend, Toshi, decided to form a rock band and the rest is history. Yoshiki has often been referred to as, “The Bono of Japan”.  He’s the drummer, pianist and songwriter, and is the face of X Japan.

X Japan fame and worldwide success has been equated to that of Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, and The Beatles. Yoshiki’s many credits include composing songs for major events, such as: the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards in 2012, Japanese Emperor Akihito’s 10th-year anniversary celebration, and the 2005 World Expo in Japan. He’s also the first person to have a Hello Kitty doll named after him; it’s called Yoshikitty[i], (and my personal favorite, the album, Yoshiki Classical, collaboration with famed Grammy-winning producer, Sir George Martin.)

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Today, electricity was in the air as Yoshki  and X Japan walked into the NYCC panel room. Sadly, Stan Lee didn’t  make an appearance, but he left a video message sending his best wishes to fans, and closing with his trademark phrase, “Excelsior!”

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The audience was shown a sneak-peak of the comic, Blood Red Dragon; a comic version of Yoshiki, who has a superhero alter-ego that fights the forces of evil. Todd MacFarlane, creator of Spawn, beautifully brings the characters to life. It’s often been questioned as to why Yoshiki didn’t create a manga instead, but he loved the style of American comics and their spectacular colors, rather than manga which is generally in black & white[i].  A few lucky fans were given a paper copy of Blood Red Dragon.

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Yoshiki gracefully moderated the panel, as X-Japan reminisced about old times, and the loss of their original guitarist, Hide. When X Japan began to take Q & A from the audience, a fan asked if Yoshiki spoke other languages besides English and Japanese. He then playfully demonstrated his ability to say hello in multiple languages.

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The most touching moment is when Toshi, X Japan’s vocalist, mentioned it was his birthday. Yoshiki  then turned wished him a Happy Birthday. Toshi then said “I love you”, Yoshiki  replied, “I love you, always.”  Yoshiki  and Toshi have been friends for over 40 years. It was a heartwarming moment.

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After the panel, Anita and I attended the press conference. I asked Yoshiki what he thought the best moment in his career was. He replied performing at Madison Square Garden. I noticed that he had a splint on his wrist and I asked if he was ok. He reassured me and said that he was in good spirits.

We wish Yoshiki  a speedy recovery & Good Luck to X Japan at Madison Square Garden!

Photographer: Anita C. Wang

Guest Editor: Leigh Howard

Sources:

[i] ABC NEWS. “Amplified, X-Japan(extended) October. 11, 2010” YouTube, Oct. 11, 2014. Web.

[i] Keegan, Rebecca. “Yoshiki as ‘Blood Red Dragon’: Todd McFarlane Makes Japanese Star a Hero.” Hero Complex. LA Times, 11 July 2011. Web. 4 Oct. 2014. <http://herocomplex.latimes.com/comics/yoshiki-as-blood-red-dragon-todd-mcfarlane-makes-japanese-star-a-hero/&gt;.

The Origins of Ernest and Celestine

March 27, 2014 – By Anita C. Wang and Sara Barton

Every night, Didier Brunner, French film producer of The Triplets of Belleville (2003), would read, Ernest and Celestine, (a popular children book series written and illustrated by Gabrielle Vincent), to his daughter Pauline. Each time the story ended, Didier was left wondering how this mouse and bear met, since it’s never explained in the books. In 2008, Didier took matters into his own hands and acquired the rights to Ernest and Celestine, from Gabrielle Vincent’s publisher. Thus, the animated feature film, Ernest and Celestine was created to answer that lingering question.

Once the rights to Ernest and Celestine were secured, Brunner also needed the right talents to make his dream project come true. He personally handpicked all the creative talents to ensure that, Ernest and Celestine would remain true its roots. Its screenplay, adapted by, famous French writer, Daniel Pennac, expands on the world of Ernest and Celestine creating an enchanting back story.

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The story unfolds with perfect pacing showing how the friendship between Celestine and Ernest developed. Raised in society where it’s frowned upon for bears and mice to socialize with each other. A mouse, Celestine, and a bear, Ernest, are brought together by a unique set of circumstances. Celestine, a budding artist, and Ernest, a street performer, create a bond through shared creativity; forming a strong friendship that lasts a life time.

The animation is beautiful and fitting of the original book series, as it show cases the signature water color style backgrounds. From start to finish, the movie is perfect love letter to the book series. It leaves the audience an ending that in fact feels like a new beginning; as Ernest and Celestine pay homage to their creator, Gabrielle Vincent, when they sit down and begin to write their origin story.

Now making it’s second debut in theaters,  the Oscar nominated, Ernest and Celestine has been dubbed in English and it sounds flawless. Forrest Whitaker and Mackenzie Foy, give a heartfelt performance,as Ernest and Celestine. Lauren Bacall is perfect and frightening as The Grey One.

What started as a question by Didier Brunner has grown into an animated feature that gives us an answer, which is satisfying as it leaves both children and adults smiling in their seats.

Edited by: Sara Barton

Ernest and Celestine- English v French?

ernest-celestine-poster– Feb, 16, 2014- Sara Barton
The Oscar nominated animated film, Ernest and Celestine(2012) opens in theaters February 28, and encores at this years, New York International Children’s Film. The film is being released in both, it’s original French version (with subtitles), as well as in English. The question on parent’s minds, “Which version do I take my child to see?”. Samurai Beat Radio is here to help. Thanks to GKIDS, we’ve had the privilege of viewing both versions. Here’s what we recommend.

The Original- (French with English subtitles):
The original is best recommended for: bi-lingual, fluent to semi-fluent french speakers, just learning French or lovers of French cinema. It’s rare pleasure to watch a French-speaking animated film here in the US. Although, several French animated films have debuted at NYICFF, the last French animated film to grace US theaters was, The Triplets of Belleville in 2003. While the film does have English subtitles, it’s can be distracting from the gorgeous animation, especially for young children.

The English Version
This is best recommended for: non- french speakers, as well as young children, especially those under the age of 7; who might have a hard time with reading subtitles. Yet, you won’t be missing out when you see the English version. GKIDS has done an outstanding job dubbing the film. It features an all-star voice-cast, with: Forest Whitaker, Lauren Bacall, Paul Giamatti, William H. Macy and child actress, Mackenzie Foy. Unlike the English translations of most foreign animated films, the French to English translations is 99.9% accurate. However, Mackenzie Foy’s, English Celestine differs from her French counterpart (voice by:Pauline Brunner) she may loses her adorable french sassy style; it’s a cultural thing that’s very difficult for an American to capture, but nonetheless she still does fantastic job. Celestine remains cute and adorable.

Regardless, both versions of Ernest and Celestine are excellent in their own right. Whether it’s in French or English, your family will enjoy the magical experience that the film has to offer.

 

Top 5 Reasons to go to NYICFF 2014!

This week tickets went on sale for the New York International Children’s Film Festival 2014. Since 2010, Samurai Beat Radio been bring coverage of NYICFF, including our interview with Tomm Moore, director of the Oscar nominated film, The Secret of Kells.

This year’s festival is extra special and we’re going to give you the Top 5 Reasons,
why you need to attend!

[Drum Roll….Please..Starting with….]

Number # 5- Aunt Hilda!– France

French animation makes an encore splash, as Jacques-Remy Girerd, creator of A Cat in Paris and Mia and the Migoo returns to NYICFF with his latest hand-drawn gem, Aunt Hilda!

Number # 4- Patema Inverted– Japan

The new feature from Time of Eve director Yasuhiro Yoshiura is a perspective-twisting sci-fi adventure about two kids separated by opposite gravities

Number # 3- Laika: Behind the Magic-US

Heads up future animators! This event is for you. Experience the magic of stop-motion through a rare behind-the-scenes presentation from LAIKA studios – creators of the Academy Award®-nominated Coraline and ParaNorman. LAIKA’s Mark Shapiro will give insights into the intricate stop-motion animation process, using footage of time-lapse production, exclusive clips of LAIKA animators at work, and a demonstration using the actual character models from of the movies. Then put your newfound stop-motion knowledge to work during a complete screening of the film Coraline and an exclusive look at the upcoming LAIKA feature The Boxtrolls. After the films there will be an audience Q&A.

Number #2- Oscar-Nominated: Ernest & Celestine– France

Ernest & Celestine kicked off last year’s NYICFF opening ceremony. After it’s nomination for best animated feature film, Ernest & Celestine returns in a new English language version, featuring the voices of: Forest Whitaker, Mackenzie Foy, Lauren Bacall, Paul Giamatti, William H. Macy, Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman, and Jeffrey Wright. The audience will also have to opportunity for a Q&A with the films director, Benjamin Renner.

Last, but not least,

NUMBER #1- Muppets Most Wanted– Special Sneak Preview

NYICFF is thrilled to present a special sneak preview screening of Disney’s, Muppets Most Wanted. That’s right folks, see The Muppets before they hit theaters- need we say more!

-S.Barton