Otaku Corner: Cosplay is not Consent Vol 2

Con foolishness: Full metal wildin’ out at anime panels

Trigger warning: This article contains descriptions of stalking, intimidation and sexual assault. Unless otherwise stated, the individuals mentioned are to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in courts of law.

In 2017, the #metoo movement made major impacts in various areas of society from public and private sector occupations to various forms of entertainment to empower women. Our geek culture has felt these reverberations in comics, movies and video games. The anime industry has also felt this impact recently, but not in a good way. As an anime fan and convention-goer, I have heard stories of non-consensual acts toward women at various cons without faces of accused individuals being presented. As of 2019, I have found four individuals publicly accused of these acts, ranging from regular con attendee to voice actor. I do not take any pleasure in presenting these individuals, but their actions have placed the anime industry in America in dire straits.

Matthew Masumi Toyotome: According to Anime News Network and Shasta County News Source, the 27-year-old Riverside, Calif., cosplayer was caught on security video pouring gasoline on fellow cosplayer Julia Monero Jenkins’ car. The resulting fire engulfed not only her car, but also several other cars belonging to attendees attending Anime LA in January 2019. Upon further investigation by police, it was discovered that Toyotome began stalking Jenkins after they stopped doing a YouTube series together and she left a Power Rangers cosplay group that they participated in. Toyotome was arrested without incident at his home and was held on bail ranging from $250,000 to $1 million.

Eric Torgersen: ANN’s Lynzee Loveridge reported that the former chairman of the Atlantic City, N.J., AnimeNext convention was being investigated by its board of directors after multiple allegations of sexual harassment by female staffers. The allegations ranged from inappropriate comments and touching, offering alcoholic drinks to underage staffers, to incidents that left irreparable relationships with musical guests, which caused negative publicity for the convention. Loveridge’s article mentioned that when concerns were made, the board of directors gave Torgersen a warning to watch his conduct. Despite the warning, staffers who were interviewed stated that Torgersen’s behavior continued. A staffer known as “A” alleged that they were threatened by Torgersen to “mind my own business or I would be sorry.” ANN attempted to contact Torgersen via Facebook for comment but was unable to do so. ANN was able to reach AnimeNext’s current chairman of the board of directors Keenan Slobodzian, who stated that the internal investigation was still ongoing. Slobodzian also confirmed that Torgersen was no longer on the board of directors but declined to state if he was still part of AnimeNext staff.

Ryan Kopf: Known as “the president of anime,” Kopf is the founder/CEO of Animecon.org, an organization that runs conventions in Minneapolis, Chicago and in other Midwest towns. Recently, staff from Anime Milwaukee banned Kopf from future events after an alleged sexual assault that took place at its con in February 2018. AMKE staff made a statement to ANN that Milwaukee police were called by Hyatt Regency hotel staff per their protocol, which resulted in Kopf and all animecon.org promotional material removed from con space and hotel property. In a statement to ANN, Kopf denied the incident stating, “When attending Anime Milwaukee in 2018, I was always in the company of at least one of my staff members. We were not approached by anyone and we were not asked to leave. The precise nature of these allegations remains [sic] unclear to me. I have not done anything improper at either of these events, and I fully intend to pursue holding accountable those who have continued to repeat defamatory statements about me.” As of GI press time, Kopf and his organization remains, despite calls for his removal from animecon.org and potential guests’ boycotts.

Mignogna
Rial

Vic Mignogna: The 56-year-old voice actor, best known for his roles in the Fullmetal Alchemist series, Bleach, Dragon Ball Z movie series and RWBY, was accused in February 2019 soon after the release of Dragon Ball Super: Broly of inappropriate conduct toward anime fans in addition to homophobic behavior. Mignogna was also accused by fellow voice actors Monica Rial and Jamie Marchi of inappropriate behavior, which led to many major conventions canceling his appearances and licensing companies Funimation Entertainment and Rooster Teeth removing Mignogna from future projects. According to Gizmodo’s Beth Elderkin, Mignogna made numerous apologies in public and private but decided to take legal action against Rial, Marchi and Funimation in April 2019. During the trial, anime fans drew battle lines for and against Mignogna using hashtags #KickVic and #IstandwithVic. On Sept. 6, 2019, 12 of the charges against Rial, Marchi and Funimation were dropped, which lead to Judge John Chupp to order mediation because of ongoing threats made to him and involved parties. On Sept. 17, 2019, Chupp dismissed all remaining charges against Rial, Marchi and Funimation. On Oct. 24, 2019, Mignogna filed an appeal against dismissal of his lawsuit, which was approved on December 11. At GI press time, no further court date was available.

I have gripes with all four of these individuals, which requires going in order. First, Mr. Toyotome. What the hell, sir? Your foolishness not only endangered lives, but also damn near destroyed a convention that infuses a local economy. You owe those con-goers, organizers of said con and your ex-friend numerous apologies and restitution.
Next, Mr. Torgersen and Kopf. You used your positions as con organizers to commit behavior not even the most heinous of geek villains would approve of. Apologize and leave the con scene, immediately. Finally, Mr. Mignogna. I can’t find words to say that you fracked up ROYALLY. I followed your story as it developed to possibly give the benefit of doubt, but the calls for you to resign and the court ruling sealed it for me. As much as it is painful, I believe that you are blessed enough not to be behind bars. You need to leave the voice artist business.

I apologize for this long piece but as a fan of all things geek and just, I could not give these individuals quarter for their actions. If our fandom has toxic behavior toward women, WE ALL LOSE. This is why the #metoo and cosplay is not consent movements still exist as well activists like Sean McGuinness, who do excellent lectures on the con circuit to inform fans. I hope not to make this a regular theme for GI, but if need be, so be it. GI folks, now that you know better, do better.

Brandon Beatty is editor at large of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb [at] gaminginsurrection.com

Anime Lounge #17: Junjou Romantica 2

Series: Junjou Romantica 2

Episodes: 1 to 12

Premise: Junjou Romantica is broken up into three storylines: Romantica, Egoist and Terrorist. Romantica is the story of main couple Misaki Takahashi and Akihiko Usami, who are brought together by Misaki’s older brother, Takahiro, so that Akihiko can tutor Misaki for college entrance exams. It happens that Takahiro announces at the meeting that he is getting married. Akihiko and Misaki are upset for different reasons: Misaki, because it means he is losing his brother somewhat after the death of his parents; Akihiko, because he is in love with Takahiro. Romance commences, with a reluctant Misaki along for the ride. Egoist focuses on Nowaki Kusama and Hiroki Kamijou’s developing relationship. Nowaki is considerably younger than Hiroki, who is a classic Japanese literature professor. Thus, their relationship centers on their everyday struggle to be a couple on equal footing. In Terrorist, Yo Miyagi and Shinobu Takatsuki become reacquainted after the end of Yo’s marriage to Shinobu’s sister. Shinobu is in love with Yo, but Yo doesn’t take him seriously. The resulting relationship between the two is interesting and deals with their pasts as brothers-in-law and their age difference. One protagonist in each couple knows of another in another couple. For example, Akihiko was in a relationship with Hiroki and Hiroki works with Yo.

Is it worth watching?: Yes. If you love romantic stories, this is probably for you. A word of caution, though: If you do not like yaoi, do not watch because the series’ relationships are all between men. If you are comfortable with it, you’ll come to love the characters and their relationship struggles.

Breakout character: Misaki Takahashi. He finally starts to come out of shell and become a little more open in his relationship with Akihiko. Instead of super shy and awkward Misaki, he’s a little more comfortable with being in an openly acknowledged relationship with Akihiko.

Best couple: Misaki and Akihiko. Despite their weird quirks, and them being the main focus, they are the most endearing of the three couples. Hiroki and Nowaki are the most serious, and Yo and Shinobu are the most realistic of the three. Misaki and Akihiko also happen to be the most fun of the three couples.

Where it’s going?: The three couples have issues to work on separately, but most importantly, Misaki’s time with Akihiko will be coming to an end now that he’s approaching graduation … or will it?

Property Review: Avengers Endgame

Photo courtesy of IMDB.com

Assembled greatness completed

Avengers: Endgame
Marvel Studios, 2019

“We’re in the endgame now.” Dr. Strange was and always has been prescient about the situation at hand. Whether it’s his own battles with the likes of Dormammu or Shuma Gorath or facing off against Thanos, the Sorcerer Supreme of Earth is always planning and stark about the reality of whatever happens to be going on. In this instance, in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, Strange was the most grounded and gave the most sobering assessment of all: The Avengers were going to lose before they won.

Based on Strange’s assessment in Infinity War, you’d think Endgame would be some bleak tale of revenge and that’s it. Technically, Endgame does begin as that, but it morphs into something more. It’s a tale of loss, hard choices, joy and survival. And, yes, revenge. It’s a do-over on some levels also. See, here, the Avengers who survived “the snappening” in Infinity War have to go on. They’re living day to day without their comrades, friends, loved ones and mentors/mentees. Life is bleak, with monuments to those lost when Thanos took out half of the universe’s population with a flick of his wrist and a twitch in his gauntlet. Time has, at once, stood still and moved on for those still around. They’re finding ways to cope and that’s the meat of the first third. It’s a brilliantly deconstructed look at the world in which the Avengers did not win. The visceral raw emotion of Avengers coping, and the world at large is beautiful and simultaneously heartbreaking. Of all the Avengers, Thor and Hawkeye are depicted as having the most pain with Black Widow a close second. It’s the train wreck that you can’t look away from and feel in your soul.

From that wreck, however, in the second act rises the phoenix of the Avengers and their allies. The most genius among them — Scott Lang, Hulk and Tony Stark — figure out a way to effect time travel. They engineer a way to travel to different points on their established timeline to retrieve the Infinity stones and bring everyone back. This makes for great comedy and revisits of some of the cinematic universe’s most memorable moments. Pop culture bits (such as America’s Ass for Captain America/America’s sweetheart Chris Evans and “Hail Hydra,” also for Cap) even make their way in, lightening the mood a bit. But alas, as you make one stride forward, there will always be another that takes you back. Hard choices must be made in order to see some gain, or so Marvel would have you believe. So, yes, you’re going to say goodbye to some fan favorites and yes, this is signifying that their time with the franchise is coming to an end. However, it’s handled well, and it invokes emotion so much so that young children will cry at the thought of losing their favorite superhero.

And, for a minute, let the editor just step back and reminisce about the experience of seeing the current crop of Avengers gathered together for likely the last time. When there was a pivotal death, at the most pivotal moment — yes, THAT death — there was not a dry eye in the house. A young child, no older than 6 probably, cried her eyes out. Adults around us, including the editor, sniffled and cried as though we had lost a beloved family member. THAT is how you do a proper sendoff to a beloved character and that is how you wrap up a story, one of redemption and selflessness for the character and the actor in real life.

Every beat hit and every note cleanly marked is the hallmark of these Avengers movies and Endgame was no exception. Threads from the early days were neatly wrapped and character investment paid off for nearly everyone. It was enough that when the lights came back up, the movie received a standing ovation and nearly everyone waited for a mid-credits scene that would never come. THAT is how you wrap 11 years and 22 movies into a neat package and remind everyone that you’re the master of the genre. That is how you thank your fans for taking the time to care and get to know your ensemble cast through individual movies and properties.

That’s Marvel, baby.

Like the comics?: 6
Casting: 10
Writing: 10

Overall score: 26 out of 30 or 8.6

HOW WE GRADE
We score the properties in three categories: Casting (or voice acting in cases of animated), plot and similarities to its source material. Each category receives points out of the maximum of 10 per category and 30 overall. The percentage is the final score.

Strip Talk #27: My predictions for the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Avengers: Endgame is out of theaters. Marvel actors have gone on to new projects and “the snappening” is now but a distant memory. There’s no more anticipation of the next dreadful thing from Thanos and whether our favorite superheroes are coming back to life. Now that the hubbub has died down, let’s take a realistic look at the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

We know that certain properties have been given solid release dates or at least have been announced. Various TV shows — WandaVision and Falcon and the Winter Soldier — have been announced as in development and coming to Disney+. Several movies including the highly anticipated Black Panther sequel and the Black Widow standalone film have been detailed with release dates as part of the upcoming phases. But, while we know projected dates, we don’t know much about the characters coming and the new villains. This is where the speculation begins.

My takes on the new phases, you ask?

1. I know who the Eternals are. They are the next big ensemble group coming up. My biggest worry is that no one will get them, and they will be compared to the previous Avengers even though they aren’t Avengers at all;

2. There will be a new set of Avengers. You saw this concept when Civil War hit with the training of new members such as Falcon and Scarlet Witch. Though Endgame went with Falcon as the new Captain America — bypassing the Winter Soldier’s time with the shield — Bucky will get his chance to wield the vibranium. Also, Captain Marvel will join and there will be another Iron Man or Iron Person, if they’re following the comics;

3. Steve Rogers will find a way to come back. Given that the character has been killed at least once in the comics and returned — after considerable backlash — there must be some form of Steve Rogers somehow. I give it a few years before they throw a boatload of cash at fan favorite Chris Evans to come back and reprise our favorite souped-up star-spangled patriot.

4. Black Panther 2 will make just as much money as the first movie, if not more. As a black comic book fan, I know I contributed about $200 of its initial run. I went to see it no less than five times and bought it on DVD. I don’t do that with most movies. Black Panther is the exception to that rule. I intend to contribute further to one of the best superhero origin stories I have ever seen. Buy black y’all;

5. The next big villain of the MCU will be Galactus. He is the only other overarching villain that I can think of that would threaten the Marvel universe on the cosmic scale. This, of course, would mean Silver Surfer would have to be introduced as well as the Fantastic Four. Given that the Fantastic Four’s reboot didn’t do so hot recently, it’s a longshot for them. But they’re needed to pull off Silver Surfer, kind of;

6. The X-Men will get pulled back to prominence. Now that Disney owns 20th Century Fox, guess who can come back to the Marvel universe and be done correctly? Our favorite mutants will enjoy the benefits of tight writing and smart casting. There will be abundant Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen to go around and origin stories will be wonderful and plentiful, filled with accuracy and correct mutant powers; and,

7. With the X-Men does come a powerful villainous duo, who have been featured in some of the versus games: Apocalypse and Onslaught. These two are powerful enough on a cosmic scale (beyond an Omega-level mutant) to wreak appropriate havoc and cause mass widespread destruction, much like Thanos did. It remains to be seen who will emerge from that core, but if the X-Men come so does Magneto, who you need to create Onslaught. Both characters are a menace, not just to the X-Men but to all the Marvel universe.

So, with my predictions cast, I’m watching any Marvel casting news to see if any of these come true immediately. For the long-term, we’ll just have to see how this goes and if Marvel follows the same pattern that it did with introducing Thanos in the first ensemble movie and then using subsequent character sequels to build up to his main plan.
If you can’t tell easily, I’m excited as a true believer.

Lyndsey Hicks is editor-in-chief of Gaming Insurrection. She can be reached by email at lyndseyh [at] gaminginsurrection.com

Marvel character highlight #25: Thanos

Name: Thanos

Alias: The Mad Titan

Affiliation: Infinity Watch, Black Order

Special abilities: Superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability, agility and longevity. Thanos is a genius-level tactician capable of telekinesis and telepathy, can survive indefinitely without food or water and is immune to all terrestrial diseases and death from old age. The Eternal can also project plasma energy.

Background: Thanos was born on the Jupiter moon Titan to Eternals A’lars and Sui-San. He quickly developed a taste for death, intensely falling in love with Mistress Death, the physical embodiment of death. To impress Mistress Death, he killed his many children and augmented his strength and powers. He also kills millions of fellow Eternals on Titan and travels to find the Cosmic Cube. He succeeds, wills himself to become omnipotent and allies with Adam Warlock. After betraying Warlock, he manages to acquire the Infinity Gems to create a weapon to destroy a star. He loses the gems, but regains them, using them to erase half the population of the universe to prove his undying love to Mistress Death. These actions are undone by Nebula and Warlock eventually, and Thanos later joins Infinity Watch as a path to redemption.

Relationships: A’lars (father), Sui-San (mother), Eros (brother), Mistress Death (eternal companion), many children including Gamora (adopted daughter), Nebula (adopted daughter)

First Versus appearance: Marvel Super Heroes

Appearances in other media:
Television: Silver Surfer (animated), The Super Hero Squad Show (animated), Avengers Assemble (animated), Guardians of the Galaxy (animated), LEGO Marvel Super Heroes – Guardians of the Galaxy: The Thanos Threat (animated), LEGO Marvel Super Heroes – Black Panther: Trouble in Wakanda (animated)

Film: The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 1, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame

Video games: Marvel Super Heroes, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, Marvel Future Fight, Marvel: Contest of Champions, Marvel Puzzle Quest, Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series, Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, Fortnite Battle Royale, Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2, Spider-Man Unlimited, Marvel Powers United VR, Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order