Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Event Report: Comifuro 6

On Saturday, August 22, 2015, I went to Comifuro 6 with my boyfriend. Comifuro, stands for Comic Frontier, is an event that accommodates independent creative circles to market their products. We can also say that Comifuro is one of a few doujinshi market events that are held every once in a while in Jakarta, Indonesia. This is my third time going to Comifuro. Unlike the previous Comifuro, this event already has its own mascot and more solid branding. As the previous one, this event was held at Smesco Exhibition Hall. This venue is informally known for its shaking elevators among its previous visitors. Having experienced a few seconds of terrifying moment in such shaky elevators, we took stairs to go from the parking lot to the venue room. F&B-wise, we had our lunch before going to this event, because there was only one outlet of 7-11 convenience store nearby to replenish our energy. Later I found out that there were a few food booths outside the venue, but there were not so many accommodating seats, so the customers had to sit on the stairs and floor to eat and drink. Therefore, it was still recommended to eat your lunch somewhere else first before going to this event

To be brutally honest, I did not expect much from this event. The last time I went to such doujinshi market was on Cocoon Festival 2015, which was held around May 2015. Cocoon Festival 2015 was dominated by fan merchandises of Japanese browser games such as Touken Ranbu and Kancolle, and sports anime especially Free!, Kuroko no Basuke and Haikyuu!. While I used to play Touken Ranbu, I admit I am not really fond of sports anime. I do not play Kancolle either. Furthermore, while I am cool with LGBTQ, I am not a big fan of shipping fictional characters as homosexual couples. In Cocoon Festival 2015, there were lots of fan merchandises that involved such shippings, and much less ones that portray just individual characters. I had quite big expectation back then, that I allocated quite big budget for the event as well. However, I went home with only a few key chains, a couple of art prints, a doujinshi about Mana (a Gothic Lolita icon), and a lot of sweats because of the small, crowded venue. It was quite disappointing, although relieving for my wallet :p. 

Last weekend’s Comifuro, however, exceeded my expectation greatly. There were a lot more varieties in fandoms and mediums offered in Comifuro 6. While there were still a lot of Touken Ranbu fan works, there were significantly less Kancolle and sports anime ones. Unexpectedly, there were noticeably a lot of circles selling Gangsta. and Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure’s fan works. There were also some fan works of other anime, manga and western series, the ones that are still ongoing and already finished. Besides on the fan work front, there were a few memorable moments that told us how the visitors and participants of this event have grown to enjoy more variety of series. When we entered the venue room, a lot of visitors were singing Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure’s opening theme for the first part. Some participants even recognized the Psycho-Pass kanshikan jacket I was wearing. That was quite a hopeless wish in the previous doujinshi market events we visited in Jakarta, since we assumed that Psycho-Pass and other seinen or more “masculine” anime were not really popular here. Anyway. There were a lot of original works in various forms such as light novels, comics, games and music as well. That was much an exciting event.

Some interesting-looking randos encountered at Comifuro 6.

Medium-wise, the products offered by the participating circles in Comifuro 6 were also more varied compared to the previous events. Previously, there were mostly keychains, phone straps, badges, doujinshis, fanbooks and art prints that mostly involved BL. This time, there were handmade straps, a few tote bags, small pouches, mobile phone cases, mugs, et cetera. There were also squishy keychains or small pillows featuring the artist's drawing.

On booths and stages arrangement front, I am happy to see some improvements. There was more space between booth groups, which allows 3-4 “lanes” of people passing the way without having to bump to each other or even create a “traffic jam”. There were two stages that are noticeably smaller, of which in my opinion is more appropriate than one big noisy stage on the previous Comifuro. One of them was located at the corner of the spacious venue room, and another one outside the venue room but still inside the building. Again, I think the placement of those stages were appropriate, considering that Comifuro is more known for its doujinshi market rather than anime karaoke stage and other creative industry-related stage shows. It is also convenient that the stages on this Comifuro was not placed too near to the circle booths, in contrast to how one big stage was placed directly in front of the furthest booth groups on the previous Comifuro. That made the karaoke did not feel too loud for the visitors. On the previous Comifuro, my ears suffered quite intensely when I came around the booths that were too near to the big stage that were currently holding a very loud karaoke session. It was very noisy. Thankfully, I did not experience that on Comifuro 6.

Anyway, there was also a maid and butler cafe outside the doujinshi market room. I am not a big fan of such thing, so I did not go in it and cannot make any comments on the cafe. There was also a lolita booth outside the doujin market room. Apparently there was a lolita makeup workshop as well, which I did not attend.

I bought quite a lot of stuffs from this event. They were mostly original light novels, art prints and art books. I also bought a few bookmarks, stickers, key chains and badges on mostly Psycho-Pass and Gangsta, and a few ones on Tokyo Ghoul, Durarara!!, Touken Ranbu and Katamari Damacy. I intended to show off my event haul again *laughs*, but I have not gotten any chance to take their photos under daylight setting. I may will update this post later for those photos.

The next events I plan to attend are the Indonesia International Book Fair 2015 on early September, Jakarta Comic Con 2015 on late September, and Indonesia Comic Con 2015 on November. I have been considering to skip this year's AFAID because I kind of losing interest to it, after all those anisong and utaite-oriented marketing campaigns. I will get back on writing about that sometime after I post the Jakarta Comic Con 2015 report, so do look forward to it! 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Book Review: Persuasion by Jane Austen

Title: Persuasion
Author: Jane Austen
Length: 372 pages
#ISBN: 978020989457
Noura Books 2015

Eight years ago, Frederick Wentworth was still a poor naval officer who had no family connections from the riches that would recommend him to be Anne Elliot’s husband. On the contrary, Anne was born in a baronet family with a snobbish father and older sister who are too conscious of their rank and looks. Her engagement with Wentworth was seen as inappropriate, because of their social gap. Under Lady Russell’s—her older friend who was also her deceased mother’s friend—persuasion, she broke her engagement with Wentworth, leaving him broken-hearted and disappointed. She later rejected Charles Musgrove’s proposal, because of her lingering love to Wentworth and, again, her social gap, under Lady Russell’s persuasion. Musgrove later married Anne’s younger sister, the whiny and attention-seeking Mary.

Eight years passed, and in the present setting, the Elliot family was forced to rent their estate—Kellynch Hall—because of their financial difficulty that could not be contained by their glamorous lifestyle, which the father and oldest sister refused to tone down. Turned out that Kellynch Hall’s new tenants are the Crofts, which are Wentworth’s sister and brother-in-law. At the same time, Wentworth just recently came back from the Napoleonic Wars. His success in the wars got him promoted with a big prize money, making him a much desirable dream husband and in-law. He and the Crofts became well acquainted with the Musgroves and their teenage girls. Since Anne had to take care of Mary before she moved to her family’s new residence in Bath, she got to stay close to the Musgroves. Her close relationship with the Musgroves brought her to spend time with the Crofts and Wentworth. However, while Wentworth became friendly with the Musgrove girls, Henrietta and Louisa, he became highly formal and rather awkward with Anne. Seeing Wentworth’s close interactions with the Musgrove girls, the Musgroves; the Crofts and Lady Russell speculated on which girl would Wentworth fell in love with and later marry. Anne was certainly out of their speculation.

The Musgroves’ friendship with Wentworth brought them and Anne to Lyme, where Wentworth’s brother officers lived. They got acquainted with Captain Harville and Captain Benwick. Coincidentally, Anne and Mary’s long lost cousin, William Elliot, was seen in Lyme and became attracted to Anne. Shortly after Anne got back from Lyme, she had to finally move to Bath to join her father and oldest sister. In Bath, she found out that William Elliot (mostly referred as Mr. Elliot) had reconciled with her father. He stayed in Elliot’s residence in Bath and slowly made his move to court Anne. How will Anne respond Mr. Elliot’s move? How is Wentworth’s feeling towards Anne after eight years of separation? Who will Wentworth choose to marry?

Now here is a confession: I did not intend to buy Persuasion when I bought it. I bought it from an online independent book seller as a replacement of another book that was already sold out. I chose it because of the beautiful cover, and because-apart from what I bought-there was no other book that got me interested more from the seller’s catalogue at the moment. It was a romance book seller, anyway, though for some reasons it sold one of Astrid Lindgren’s books back then. Another confession: I have never been into romance as an entertainment genre (on the contrary, my love life has been great these past 14 months). When I thought about Jane Austen, I imagined yet another group of typical romance stories in classic setting. Classic, but still all about romance. I did not set any plan on when I was going to read it, until I found out about Austen in August. I have never had any of her works as required reading during my schooling years, so I never read any of them in the past. So I thought, finally, a perfect time to read it.

Turned out that I enjoyed reading it much more than expected. It is indeed a romance, but not a hopelessly romantic one. It also portrays the lifestyle and family culture of the British in the past. As far as I remember, I had only read about it from George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London, which portrays the life of the poor in both cities in early 1990s. In contrast, Austen’s works seem to portray the lifestyle and culture of the rich in England. She explored most of her characters thoroughly, including those in Persuasion. I like how she got most of the characters’ traits and quirks explained, which I also enjoy in Pride and Prejudice that I am currently reading. I enjoyed getting to know each of her characters, from the timid Anne, the snobbish Sir Walter and Elizabeth Elliot, the fishy Mr. Elliott, the poor Mrs Smith, to the whiny Mary. I would recommend this book to people who enjoys light stories and romance. I would also recommend people who is not usually into romance books to give Austen's works a chance.

After I read the book, I watched the movie adaptation that was released in 2007. While a lot of scenes were similar to what I imagined when I read the book, there were some scenes that were changed at the end. It is as if the ending was rushed to meet the less-than-2-hours duration allowance. Some things that may be important were not explained, leaving the movie making more sense only to those who have read the book. Meanwhile, people who have not read the book may will find the movie less understandable, not to mention the rushed ending compared to the lack of "chemistry" between Anne and Wentworth. It may feel as if things escalated quickly, though it actually does for Louisa. As for the movie, I would recommend it more for people who have read the book.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Event Report: Popcon Asia 2015

On Sunday, 9 August 2015, I went to Popcon Asia 2015. This event was held from 7-9 August 2015 at Jakarta Convention Center. There was a lot of events going on the Gelora Bung Karno complex, including We The Fest and the FGD Expo (which apparently was not the expo about focus group discussions). So there was a lot of people going there and the parking lot was packed with cars, motorbikes, and... ticket scalpers. Anyway. This is my third year of my regular visit to this event. I am happy that this event was not held in Smesco Building as how the previous Popcon Asia was. I wish I could attend from the first day, but I had work on Friday and Saturday. Thankfully, the most anticipated talk show of the event featuring Fluxcup was rescheduled from Friday evening to Sunday night. 

Popcon Asia is an annual event that celebrates creative contents to the growing market of teens and young adults. This convention claims to promote the emergence of local creative contents. Apparently some artists and prominent figures from globally-recognised publishers came to scout some talented artists as well. While much of the advertised features potentially attract more creators than consumers, I was intrigued to see more amazing original artworks and creative contents the artists would offer. 

I have been following its twitter account since around last year, and I could see that their media social campaign was much more active than its previous years. They had been campaigning since a few months before the D-day. And unlike this year’s AFAID that has been only focusing on Anisong (with similar line-up from the previous years..) and a bit of cosplay for their marketing campaign, they had launched many different teasers that would attract the lovers of comic, games, movies, toys and cosplay since the start of their campaign. That active campaign really paid off. Since the first day of the event, apparently there were so many visitors and some goods were already sold out since the first day. At the end of the event, there are heaps of local comics that were sold out. People started to pay attention to local creative contents such as comics, board games and movies. 

This year’s Popcon’s theme is “A Voyage to Creative Galaxy”. Coordinating with the theme, there were space-themed attributes that involved astronauts and aliens. The early social media campaign tried to attract the geeks that are often perceived as the aliens, the outsiders, the outcasts. They reminded us on how “the muggles” told us that as a grown up it is no longer our time to enjoy comic and animation, or how they cringed at our expensive toys and figures, et cetera. Then they convinced the geeks that “Popcon understands”. Nifty, no? 

After we purchased the tickets, we were directed to a short space-themed “tunnel” with blue lights that brought such inter-galactical feel, the feeling that we were travelling through the space. Unfortunately I forgot to bring my camera, and I only had my phone camera that I assumed not sufficient enough to take photos in such rather dark room (hence the low-Q photos in this report). Anyway, it was cool! You can visit this post to see how the tunnel was. 

As usual, I “swept” through the artists’ alley to find some amazing artworks and comics. As how the previous year was, the first booth I visited was Pronto Pixel’s. His booth sold noticeably less goods than last year, but they are still equally great. There were these very cute carpet of his original character, which I would totally buy if only my budget was not limited. He did not remember us, but he was very friendly. He asked about my boyfriend’s visible wound (he had an accident just recently) and we talked for a short while. He was also noticeably friendly to other visitors. A perfect way to get people to buy your stuffs really. I doubt I will be able to afford other things if I bought the cute carpet or plushies, so I bought his postcard package that also contains a badge and a few stickers. I also bought some comics, a few stickers, and a couple of huge gorgeous art prints that were signed by the artist. I bought another huge art print from him last year! 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Event Report: JakBook & Edu Fair 2015

On Saturday, August 1, 2015, I went to the JakBook & Edu Fair 2015. This event was held from July 27 to August 3, 2015, at Plaza Parkir Timur Senayan, South Jakarta. Despite the controversy, I was looking forward to explore the book fair and possibly get some good deals of interesting books.

Before the event started, Jakarta’s Governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (also known as Ahok) promoted this event enthusiastically, as the excellent way for the Jakarta people to afford more educational books and study tools. However, apparently he was very upset and disappointed when he found out that the books sold there are more expensive than the ones sold at Jakarta’s famous wholesale market centres such as Tanah Abang and Asemka. After he found out such thing, he even encouraged the Jakarta people not to shop at the book fair, and shop at Tanah Abang or Asemka instead. So as the online news’ headlines said. Later I found out that he was inspecting *note* books, which was probably indeed more expensive than the ones sold at Tanah Abang. However, I regret that Ahok encouraged people not to shop at JakBook just because of those note books. I was certain that there would be a lot of interesting books *to be read* with nice bargain price there. I mean, those books *to be read* seller were also put at risk of losing potential customers because of Ahok’s reaction to his *note* book sellers inspection! I do admire Ahok for his straightforward, fair and (apparently) transparent actions as a governor, but this time I was disappointed by his careless statement.

Anyway, so I went to the book fair with my boyfriend on Saturday. I left my written wishlist at home, but I still had some author’s names to equip on “the book radar” in my mind. I was expecting that I would be able to complete Nh. Dini’s memoir series and get some Indonesian edition of books by Astrid Lindgren and Pearl S. Buck that are already rare nowadays. I struggled to resist the strong temptation to buy books online for this day. Unfortunately, turned out that the book fair was 50% school necessities such as school backpacks; shoes; socks; uniforms; and those note books that triggered Ahok’s wrath. While the rest (50%) were real books to read, a lot of them were religious; motivational; and lesson books. The fictions and historical books probably only took 5-15% of everything sold at the book fair. To sum this up, it was disappointing. The “Edu” part of the event’s name may be something to watch out, but at my defense I thought “Edu” means more about educational books to read.

Nevertheless, I still bought a lot of books at good to excellent deal! In total, I bought 8 books.. *laughs* Imagine if that was a legit book fair with at least 85-90% books to read. The 8 books are:
1. Casper the Commuting Cat by Susan Finden
2. The Secret History of The Lord of Musashi and Arrowroot by Junichiro Tanizaki
3. Big Breasts and Wide Hips by Mo Yan
4. Foundation by Isaac Asimov
5. Neuromancer by William Gibson
6. Emma by Jane Austen
7. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
8. The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson

The discounted price of these books were crazy. I paid Rp66,000,- (approx. US$5) for these three. 

Some sci-fi gems found at the used books seller, published in the 1980s. They were Rp90,000,- (approx. US$7) in total.

These books’ discount were only 20%, but anyway..  Now I have more books for Austen in August. Considering the future event reports planned to be posted here, this also means that I may will post twice a week in two or three upcoming August weeks.

I only spent approximately less than an hour at the dissapointing book fair. I went to Plaza Senayan afterwards to eat at Yoshinoya and check Kinokuniya and Periplus out. Log Horizon’s 2nd light novel was already released in English, so I had a little hope of finding it at any of those bookstores. Turned out that I did not find it. I guess I will buy it at Periplus Online sometime later. Anyway, I still bought one book: Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project. There were some other books that got caught on my radar, but one had to choose and I have bought a lot at the book fair anyway.

So in total, I bought 9 books last Saturday. I still long for those Astrid Lindren and Pearl S. Bucks’ books though. There is another book fair coming in September, Indonesia International Book Fair 2015. I am looking forward to that book fair as well, and I hope it will be legit book fair with many more of books to look forward to!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Bout of Books 14 Read-a-Thon

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 17th and runs through Sunday, August 23rd in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 14 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is coming on August 17th! That will be the Independence Day in my country, and I will have a day off. I hope I can optimize my reading time on the first and last day. If you are interested to join this read-a-thon, you can sign up here

One of the books I will read is Emma by Jane Austen for Austen in August. But before that, I hope to finish the last 120-ish page of Pride and Prejudice first. If I still have more time in the read-a-thon, I plan to read the sequels of Pramoedya Ananta Toer's Buru Quartet

Let me know if you are joining! :)