Otaku Corner: Great Teacher Onizuka

Great Teacher Onizuka inspires kids, otaku alike

In this issue’s Otaku Corner, we’re going to time travel back to the late ’90s/early 2000s to focus on an anime classic that is situated in a high school setting. Instead of having a student wishing for their romantic sempai to notice, the main character is an interesting fellow: A former motorcycle gang leader who barely graduates from a lesser-known university who tries his luck in teaching high schoolers. Who is this man? He’s Eikichi Onizuka also known as “GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka.”
Based on the manga of the same name by Tohru Fujisawa, the anime takes viewers along Onizuka’s journey from former gang biker to game-changing teacher. Onizuka applies at Holy Forest Academy expecting that he would be teaching high school female students who would fall in love with him. Instead, he’s assigned to Class O, consisting of troublemakers and blackmailers. After saving a Class O student from committing suicide twice, Onizuka uses his skills of tough love to reach out to the students. After noticing Onizuka’s brave actions, the school’s Chairwoman offers Onizuka the teaching position, provided he would have to live in a school storage room.
As the anime continues, Onizuka befriends the class-o students who tried to get him kicked out and joins him in various typical anime situations ranging from helping a female student get her big break in acting, to keeping a promise to pay for a school field trip to Okinawa. Onizuka pulls through with his promises while driving the school principal Hiroshi Uchiyamada crazy with either Onizuka’s crazy luck or his precious Cresta sedan being totaled by Onizuka nearly every episode. In the anime’s last episode, Onizuka uncovers a sinister plot by a corrupt teachers union to pin a former Holy Forest student’s suicide on a Class O student. Onizuka takes matters in his own hands by taking the blame, exposing the teachers union’s actions and flees to America where he continues teaching at a California high school while showing his new students how he does things.
Let me state this: Onizuka is a teacher I wish I had in high school. Knowing when to dish out discipline and support to at-risk kids is an artform. GTO accomplish this goal as an anime high school series by showing that teachers can be among those who are major influences in kids’ lives. Noriyuki Abe, known for his work on “Bleach,” keeps true to Fujisawa-san’s original work – showing how Onizuka adds tough love and teaches life lessons to students while mixing comedic elements. I felt invested with each episode, which provided life lessons and fun along the way.
Credit goes to Tokyopop and its CEO Stuart Levy for maintaining GTO’s originality and casting impressive English voice actors such as Steve Blum to play Onizuka, Wendee Lee as school director Sakurai, and Onizuka’s love interest, Azusa Fuyutsuki. Levy showed excellent wisdom with additional top names such as Tony Oliver, Richard Epcar, Michelle Ruff, and the late Robert Papenbrook to play voices of various characters. Papenbrook gets special recognition for his role as Principal Uchiyamada whose beloved Cresta sedan is always either totaled or stolen during encounters with Onizuka’s exploits. The music for GTO is top-notch with the first session opening theme performed by L’ Arc-en-Ciel and the second opening theme done by Porno Graffiti. After seeing the complete series of GTO, I’m now in the hunt to acquire the manga volumes, if I can still find them.
“Great Teacher Onizuka” is a definitely among anime’s greatest series. For GTO to convince a non-high school anime viewer like me to take another look at this genre, I was impressed. I have a piece of advice for inspiring teachers-to-be: Study hard and follow the way of Eikichi Onizuka. And, for those current and former teachers who give their best to their students: Thank you for all you do. We at GI salute you!

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

Otaku Corner: Women’s health and video games

Insensitivity knows no boundaries when it comes to women’s reproductive health

Editor’s note: Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court on June 22, 2022.

On May 2, political news website Politico obtained and released a 98-page draft document indicating that the U.S Supreme Court was considering reversing the landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalizes abortion for women. During that time, major game studios Microsoft, Bungie and Double Fine took strong stances supporting abortion via pro-choice statements, providing financial support to affected employees and abortion rights groups and allowing employees to join protests opposing reversal of Roe v. Wade. There was a gaming company that attempted to take a neutral position on the issue; however, their strategy ended in EPIC FAILURE. Sony Interactive Entertainment, I’m looking at you.

On May 12, SIE President Jim Ryan sent out a company-wide e-mail, which was obtained by business news website Bloomberg, regarding the leaked decision. Taking a neutral stance, Ryan stated that employees should “respect differences of opinion” and “Sony is multifaceted and diverse holding many points of view” and concluded by stating “we owe it to ourselves and PlayStation’s millions of users to respect differences.” Ryan then continued to talk about his two cats’ birthdays and plans to obtain a dog as a neutral method to reduce employee anger and sadness. This resulted in employees demanding clarity from Ryan and forced Sony and its subsidiary Insomniac Games to donate $100,000 to a pro-reproductive rights organization and develop an assistance program for employee who would need stated care, according to an internal e-mail obtained by the Washington Post.

When the Post asked for comments, neither company made any statements and forbade employees from speaking or sharing announcements from the benefited organization. As a gamer and consumer, I believe that Sony has chosen the wrong side in this debate. I respect that Sony and its affiliated companies have acted to assist in times of turmoil, but this issue of Roe v. Wade was an opportunity for Sony to fight for human rights and tell gamers that if women’s health care rights diminish in the U.S., there will be NOTHING to stop concerned citizens TM from telling others in a democratic society how to live. That would result in taking away content in video games, what we could see and read in anime and manga and other media, and how to think on various issues.

I appreciate Insomniac CEO Ted Price’s opinion that SIE must be firm on employees expressing concerns on abortion to do more virtuous deeds in the corporate world; however, my wife and millions of American women deserve the right to a say in their reproductive health choices, period. I applaud Microsoft, Bungie, Double Fine and other companies that are taking barrages of shade and hate by their “fan/consumer base” on this issue. Their responses are making me think more of becoming a regular customer of companies that care about honesty and doing what is right instead of the usual “virtue-signaling” for cash.

Readers, Gaming Insurrection will always cover the greatest in geek culture, tech, and retro gaming. However, when issues such as abortion hit our corner of the world, we will cover them to inform and empower you. If you want to know more about how to protect Roe v Wade from disappearing check out this link: https://www.bungie.net/en/Explore/Detail/News/51315 to find about the list of organizations spotlighted. Also, get out and vote for candidates who will fight to protect Roe v. Wade. I will close out this column with advice for Mr. Ryan and Mr. Price: 1. Women gamers are on the rise and make up 41 percent of gamers in the U.S. 2. They are watching what you say and do on abortion and other issues that affect them. 3. Act and choose wisely; it will determine how your companies will prosper in the future. 4. Do better.

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

Otaku Corner: Outlaw Star Ep. 1-26

Outlaw Star shines among anime of early aughts

I’m paying homage to an anime series that has made a major impact on otaku culture as well helped in the renaissance of anime in America.

First, I’ll give a little background. Sunrise Beyond Inc. is well known for its globally acclaimed series Gundam. It has also helped contribute to and worked with Cartoon Network with its Toonami/Adult Swim blocks, presenting new classics such as The Big O, Cowboy Bebop and Inuyasha. But Sunrise brought a series to Cartoon Network that helped anime rebound in American pop culture. That series is Outlaw Star.

Licensed by Bandai Entertainment in 1999 and broadcasted on Cartoon Network in 2001 and 2002, Outlaw Star tells the story of Gene Starwind and best friend-business partner James “Jim” Hawking, who run a jack-of-all trades business on the planet Sentinel III. Their lives are changed forever when an outlaw named Hot Ice Hilda hires them as bodyguards while recovering a stolen spaceship — later known as the Outlaw Star — and its navigational system to find the “Galactic Layline,” a fabled place which holds immense treasure, knowledge, and power. Outlaw Star has some similarities to Cowboy Bebop in the theme of a Space Western type of anime. Early on, I was introduced to the main characters, but I learned later that the makeup of the cast would change. When Gene, Jim and Hilda reach the hiding place of the Outlaw Star, they’re attacked by the Kei pirates, who are after Hilda for stealing the ship. Hilda battles the pirates, stalling for Gene and Jim to escape with the ship and its navigation system named Melfina. Hilda dies, unfortunately, when she activates a hidden bomb that vaporizes her and the pirates.

The series continues with Gene and crew taking on various jobs to manage maintenance and gaining new crew members, such as assassin “Twilight” Suzuka and former Ctarl-Ctarl government officer Aisha ClanClan. In addition to the Kei pirates, Gene must deal with the bounty hunting MacDougall brothers and the scheming Professor Gwen Kahn while uncovering the mystery surrounding Melfina and the Galactic Layline. Gene and company are always looking to make money while spending it and sometimes laugh at the escapades they get into while trying to do so.

The character designs are very good, but the stars of the show are the actual ships designed by Juniya Ishigaki and Shoji Kawamori, who designed the Outlaw Star. The show’s main and ending themes begin with a strong masculine theme then change to a child-like lullaby and a slow pop song that can calm the most frustrated otaku. The voice dub cast is excellent with Bob Buchholz as Gene, Brianne Siddall as Jim, Emily Brown as Melfina, Lenore Zann as Aisha, and Wendee Lee as Suzuka. Outlaw Star also benefited from having Beau Billingslea as the narrator and Mary E. McGlynn as Hilda. Another voice actor that contributed was Barbra Goodson, known for her work on “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers as “Rita Repulsa,” as a guest voice. This series showed that Sunrise employed excellent voice actors with high quality designs and strong storytelling to bring a show that would have been overlooked to the forefront with enthusiastic fan support.

Outlaw Star is a show among the Toonami/Adult Swim lineup that kept the programing blocks alive in addition to reviving anime passion in America. Fortunately, you can find this classic series on the Funimation now and Hulu streaming services.

If anything, Outlaw Star teaches all otaku like me: Go forth, seek your fortune and do not fear failure.

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

Otaku Corner: Death Note Vol. 12

The Death Note saga comes to an end in Volume 12

Here we are, at last. The last volume of Death Note is here, and I could not be any happier to close the chapter on manga’s most self-righteous and sadistic character, Light Yagami. From the very beginning, he weaved a great web of deceit by utilizing a weapon of mass destruction. From test killing various criminals to intentionally killing international police officials (including this millennium’s Sherlock Holmes) and having the audacity to play God while wielding absolute power over every well-known police and security agency on Earth, Light has done it all. Rest assured, I will soldier though Mr. Yagami’s foolishness while doing this review.
After a successful attack on NHN studios, Mello and his partner, Matt, were able to capture Takada, bringing a slight interruption to Light’s and Near’s decisive battle set to take place in days. Mello, being clever, forces Takada to undress herself to remove any tracking devices, preventing her bodyguards and the police to find them. Mello cleverly places Takada’s outer clothes in a shipping box and leaves it at a package delivery company. Unknown to him, however, that Takada had a piece of the Death Note, a pen and a secret cell phone to contact Light.

Once Takada contacts Light, she tells him that she killed Mello, and Light fiendishly acts concerned in front of the task force members by asking where she was. At the same time, the news reports Matt’s death as he was shot by Takada’s bodyguards while attempting to fire smoke bombs at them. On the way to rescue Takada, Light uses a hidden piece of the Death Note to kill her after she calls Mikami to tell him to text her two days’ worth of criminals to kill. Near also tries to help with the search but is too late when the task forces find Mello and Takada dead after a fire, thanks to Light.
While Light and Near made their final adjustments for their last battle, NHN and other television stations begin to plead Kira to host his messages. On the day of the final showdown, Linder of the SPK drives Misa and Mogi, dropping the former at a deluxe hotel suite while driving to the meeting site. After arriving at the Yellow Box Warehouse and checking for wire taps and hidden camera, Light, Near and their allies met face to face. Near then asks everyone to wait 30 minutes for Mikami to show up and instructs everyone to act normal should he try to peep in on the meeting. Unknown to Mikami, Near has tampered with the real pages of the notebook. Once Light figured out that he was exposed as Kira, he first claims Near is setting him up and finally confesses that he is Kira.
As Light continued to bask in his “victory,” Near interrupts that he not only tampered with the Death Note Mikami had on him, but also he messed with the other one he kept in a bank deposit box. Light, still delirious, tried to kill Near with a hidden piece of the Death Note, but Matsuda shoots him multiple times. Light asks Ryuk to kill Near and the others with his Death Note. Ryuk refuses, stating that Light is near death because of his wounds; he would take Light’s life and did so without a second thought.
A year later, Matsuda and Ide talk about the case, and Matsuda stated that he believed that Near controlled Mikami. At that moment, Ide gets a call from Aizawa, who is now deputy superintendent of the NPA. Aizawa states that Near needs help investigating a drug syndicate’s deal in Japan occurring at the Yellow Box Warehouse. Once arriving, they join Mogi and the task force’s newest member, Yamamoto, joins the meeting with L. Meanwhile, a gathering of Kira worshippers convenes in a secluded area where their priestess (looking like Misa) place places a candle and prays for Kira’s return.
From beginning to end, Volume 12 of Death Note did not disappoint. All the writing and artwork surpassed previous editions, giving a great series a well-earned sendoff with hopes of continuation in the future. Ohba-san’s writing was spectacular in building suspense. Obata-san’s artwork was brilliant, keeping the suspense and action alive and allowing readers to see the aftermath of Kira’s (possible) demise. I am giving well-deserved praise to Viz Media’s Tesuichiro Miyaki for translation and adaptation that perfectly told the story, making this final volume — like the other English releases of Death Note — re-readable from beginning to end.
Death Note Volume 12 did not disappoint. I would like to thank you, Otaku Corner readers, for joining me through this series. One piece of advice: Be wary of shinigami and always leave out juicy apples for them.

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

Otaku Corner: Death Note Vol. 11

The light at the end of the Death Note tunnel is clear

Light, Light, Light. I keep finding more reasons for confining Mr. Yagami to a high-level mental health facility than having him in ANY level of employment in public safety. Throughout the entire series reviewing this manga series, the question of “How can one justify killing innocent people in order to make a better world,” keeps popping back in my head, with no credible answers.

Volume 11 begins with Light, Misa and the task force headed back to Japan to avoid capture by Near, the SPK and Mello. Light’s return to Japan provides him breathing room to set up his plans in controlling the Kira investigation and control Mikami’s movements as Kira. However, Near correctly deduces Light’s escape to Japan and follows suit to capture Kira in his own domain, using Hal Linder as a potential member of Kiyomi Takada’s female security team. At the same time, Misa is asked by Yoshida Productions to perform at the annual New Year’s show. Once Near arrives in Japan, he contacts Light to inform him that he is also in Japan to lure Kira out of hiding. Both L’s decide to use that call to begin preparations for their final plans to battle each other.

Further in the story, Light continues to use Takada to his advantage by exchanging written notes to avoid detection by the task force and communicate with Mikami. Takada is OK with the plan, but she began her own plan to secure her position with Light by asking Misa to join her for a late dinner. At the dinner, Mogi and Linder are present, but Linder was ordered by Takada to stand by in case Misa got belligerent. For the sake of time, I’ll say that the dinner didn’t not go well. Meanwhile, another SPK agent named Gevanni starts his stake out of Mikami and has noticed that he has killed a subway passenger for harassing a female passenger without using the Death Note. Acting on Gevanni’s report, Near and Rester began the final stages of planning to capture Kira/Light.

At the New Year’s show, Takada announces that Misa has not yet arrived, forcing Light and the task force to search for her and Mogi. At that moment, Near contacts Light stating that he has taken Misa and Mogi into protective custody. Light, inwardly enraged, acts concerned in front of the task force by telling Misa and Mogi that they are free to leave at any time they want.

At the same time, Gevanni follows Mikami to a local gym and was able to touch the Death Note that was in Mikami’s brief bag. With Gevanni’s report, Near decides to make a replica Death Note and set the date, time and place for the final battle: a warehouse near Daikoku Wharf in Yokohama. On the day of their meeting, Takada arrives at NHN Studio for her news program when Matt arrives firing a smoke grenade at Takada. While the security team surrounds her, Mello, disguised as a motorcyclist worshipper of Kira, tells Linder to place Takada on the bike. When Takada is on the bike with Mello, Linder has two security units to follow them while the remaining security team goes after Matt. When Takada was out of danger, Mello ignored requests from the security detail to hand her over to them and escapes into a narrow alley with Takada as his prisoner.

This volume is a nice way to setup a climatic end for the series. Every detail from artwork to storyline was strong enough to create their own impact without losing plot focus. I applauded the chess-like moves that Light and Near employed with Swiss clock-like precision in each of their plans giving them flexibility in each situation. Also, the development for each character was not stale, especially for Misa, Takada, and Linder, who all got equal scene time in each chapter. I found the dinner scene with Misa and Takada hilarious when Misa tells Takada that she and Kira will be killed when he is captured, and Takada counters with host authority of the New Year’s show to prevent Misa’s engagement to Light. Also, Linder was featured in superb multitasking as a most trusted bodyguard while being a double agent and referee between Kira’s two suitors. Ohba-san and Obata-san again showed their mastery in creating a worthwhile series. Credit is also owed to Tetsuichiro Miyazi, who performed adaptation and translation duties.

This is it. The battle that we waited for, dear readers, is here. L’s heirs and Light Yagami fighting to the death, not for praise but intellectual superiority. As I ready myself to write the final review of Death Note, I cannot find any reason why I should not re-read this series or re-watch the anime. Do shinigami really exist? Only time will tell. I can offer this analysis, though: A battle of anime and manga’s most intriguing intellectuals will end, with ONLY one left standing.

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

Otaku Corner: Gundam Thunderbolt Vol. 1

Gundam side story delves deeper in the mecha ethos

“Only the dead know the end of war.” — Plato

As many of our readers know of my love for the Gundam series, I have mentioned the series’ legendary mark on anime and pop culture many times. Manga is no exception since numerous Gundam series were printed out and read by many Gundam fans and big robot lovers, alike.

On a recent trip to 2nd & Charles, I found one of a few English-translated adaptations of Gundam manga that was a side story set during the events of the original series. While the main characters were not present in this series, it nevertheless told of the widening conflict between the Principality of Zeon and the Earth Federation as seen through the eyes of two destined individuals, each with their own views of justice. “Mobile Suit Gundam: Thunderbolt “was my ticket to this latest chapter of the Gundam Universe.

Set in the Universal Century year 0079, the space colony Side 3 declared independence as conflict between Zeon and Earth began. One year later, both sides engaged in a battle for an area of destroyed space colonies known as the Thunderbolt sector. During this period, Daryl Lorenz, top sniper for a special unit known as the Living Dead Division, has enabled Zeon forces to control Thunderbolt sector without loss. However, his luck changes when Io Fleming, ace pilot for the Earth Federation’s Moore Brotherhood fleet, ambushes a Living Dead member, killing him and taking an enemy Zaku suit. As a result, Io is given a new mission to further disrupt Zeon control but with a new mobile suit: Gundam.

As the Living Dead discover that a Gundam is being used, the battle between Io and Daryl intensifies amid the wreckage of Io’s home colony, Side 4: More. With both sides hellbent on each other’s destruction, a new rivalry is set in the Gundam saga with various music types providing the soundtrack to a battle where there is only one victor.

Reading MSG: Thunderbolt is a new take on the battle between Earth and space. While Hajime Yatate and Yoshiyuki Tomino provided the original story, Yasuo Ohtagaki provided a fresh perspective via story and art. I felt invested in Daryl and Io because tragedy has taken away happier times in their lives. Both characters were born in affluent families who prospered as merchants, but war upended their lives. Daryl became a solider but was severely injured losing both legs, which gained his family the right to resettle on a Zeon colony and other benefits. He also had to adapt to using prosthetic legs to regain his ability to walk and to use a mobile suit.

Io lost his father, who was mayor of Side 4, to suicide during the Zeon assault. Fortunately, Io’s friends Claudia Peer, who is his commanding officer (and lover), and Cornelius Qaqa, the fleet’s engineer, are there with him to carry the task of avenging their lost home. Daryl also has the support of his unit, who are also dealing with the hellish results of war. Ohtagaki-san’s detail to story and art was excellent from start to finish, especially with the designs of the Gundam, Zaku and Rick Dom suits.

The in-between drama for Io and Daryl is also accurate in showing the types of problem that military servicemembers may deal with during and in between battles. At these points in the manga, I felt that pulling for both characters is justifiable as they are fighting a physical and psychological war on all fronts. Finally, the music selection closed the deal for me while reading Thunderbolt. Jazz and pop music set each chapter tone as if I was part of the battle. Viz Media did a great job on adaptation and translation of Thunderbolt with praise going to STAN! And Joe Yamazaki for carefully presenting Thunderbolt. They presented the side story carefully without compromising what Gundam is about.

MSG: Thunderbolt is one of the few Gundam manga adaptations I felt did justice to a series without sacrificing its crucial parts to tell its story. As Daryl and Io continue their battle, I plan to review their battles in the future.

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

We remember Kirby Morrow, 1973-2020

I’m dedicating this review to the memory of Kirby Morrow. Morrow — best known for voicing Trowa Barton from Gundam Wing, Billy Katagiri from Gundam 00, Teru Mikami from Death Note and Miroku from the Inyusha series and its recent spinoff Yashahime: Princess Half Demon — passed on Nov. 18, 2020. Rest in peace, Kirby. You are forever loved. You are forever remembered. You are forever Gundam.

Otaku Corner: Pandemic blues or a geek’s battle cry against Covid 19

Or how we will learn to emerge awesome from Downersville

As I write this, like many of our fellow geeks around the country and the world, GI staff are dealing with a new and unknown “normal.” Ever since January 20, the U.S. has been under siege by the Covid-19 virus causing untold sickness and death. As an essential worker for the state of South Carolina, I have not had the comfort of working from home and have experienced city-imposed lockdowns, bi-weekly quests to obtain basic supplies for home and work, and the daily reports of areas I had to avoid on the job. I also had to firmly but fairly inform visitors who come to visit their loved ones receiving medical treatment at my place of employment that visitation was suspended.

Myself and Lyndsey were hoping to cover many new games to play, movies to see at theaters and the latest anime series to binge watch on Netflix and Hulu. However, Covid-19 has dealt a devastating blow to release events of video games, canceled comic book/anime conventions or forcing them to provide virtual adaptations, slowed down production of anime series causing delays for dubbing and releasing in various global markets, and of course, rescheduling or direct to on-demand services for upcoming movies. As Lyndsey and I prepare this edition to upload I learned ways to soften Covid’s blow on #hotgeeksummer and continuing #geek life:

  1. Support official works of franchises: I know many of you have heard this phrase many times, but it’s important to do it since every time a new project for Dragon Ball Super or DC or Marvel releases, these companies make deals with the creators/original studios to handle voice cast recording, translation, marketing and other elements to ensure the success of the stated project. By buying official merchandise, everyone involved can be compensated for their awesome work, ensuring that a loved series stays with its fans longer.
  2. Heed trusted wisdom: By now, you’ve heard about the importance of social distancing, wearing cloth masks, practicing good hand hygiene and avoiding unnecessary trips outside home, right? There’s a reason for that; To stop Covid’s spread, these few yet effective methods drastically reduce the chances of Covid spreading to innocent people, especially those with serious health issues. Also, please follow the advice of CREDIBLE scientists, doctors, nurses and other first responding professionals fighting the good fight against this disease. By heeding this wisdom, the chances of beating Covid greatly increase.
  3. Patience, patience!: I know it’s easier said than done, but even our favorite providers of nice things are affected. Cartoon Network’s “Toonami” block had to replay previous episodes of shows and do special events on the fly because content licensors have had to figure out logistics in developing new episodes of currently airing shows. Funimation Entertainment was waiting on creative partners in Japan to obtain episodes of recently acquired shows such as “My Hero Academia” in addition to figuring out how its voice actors can record their roles safely. If these companies had these problems, Netflix, Hulu and Crunchyroll are having them, too. Give them a break. This applies to your favorite convention, too.
  4. Support your local geek merchants: Doing business in a pandemic is CRAZY. For a certain few, they have developed specific skills that has prepared them for this moment and are ready to help keep your sprits up. I bought said items from a local geek and friend of GI and they are awesome, helping GI in its mission to cover gaming and geek news as well as keeping us safe from Covid when doing vital outside business. Also, support those local businesses providing safety options such as online ordering, curbside service and delivery when you are hungry or chilling with comics. These choices keep them and their rockstar workers rolling in these mean Covid streets.
  5. All for geek, geek for all: As geeks of color, we know about feeling rejected and unliked by other fellow geeks, which is not cool. However, with recent news involving geeks of Asian descent being accused of intentionally spreading Covid and assaulted, I have to say this: IT’S. NOT. COOL. While professional health and scientific organizations have determined that Covid started in China, geeks of Asian descent here in the U.S. and other places across the globe HAVE NOT contributed to its spread. In fact, they’re doing their part to help defeat it through various actions. Let’s do our part in having each other’s backs and theirs, too.
  6. Level up self-care: You know your favorite heroes can be dealt some brutal punishment giving the bad guys a temporarily win, causing our heroes to need to recover. Eating properly, a good exercise regimen and proper mental health care are proven methods to help in the comeback. It’s OK not to feel OK during this time; just remember to do self-care to get back in the fight and win!
  7. Level up skills: With many anime/comic book conventions being shut down, this is the perfect time to develop a new skill that could help you become stronger after this. Whether it’s setting up a game stream on twitch, creating the next big podcast or polishing moves for the next fighting game tourney, this is the perfect time to skill up for many victories that lie ahead. Don’t just apply this to things geek; you can also do this for adding on to a resume or other real-world situations. I’m taking some courses on emergency preparedness and other hobbies, and it’s helpful in improving mind and body. Try it, you’ll like it.

I know that 2020 has been a complete Dumpster fire for everyone thanks to Covid, but I want to leave you with this nugget: THINGS WILL GET BETTER. If we geeks get into formation and combine like Voltron, we’ll win. Even if our favorite geek activities are shut down, we will overcome and be ready for even more awesome things. Why? Cause Stone juggernaut said so. By the way, I’m giving thanks to UAL — Urban Anime League, Neo Monster Island, Arcade Impact, Nekitou’s Artcadia and, of course, our awesome readers, for providing champion support to us each time we go to print. We wouldn’t be able to do this without you.

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

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.



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

Otaku Corner: Tokyo Tribes Vol. 2

Tokyo prepares for all-out gang warfare in Tribes Volume 2

In a previous Otaku Corner column, I reviewed the first volume of the manga series “Tokyo Tribes.” Tokyo Tribes is the first manga series I’ve read that perfectly combines Japanese comic art with the raw power of urban American pop culture, mainly hip-hop and R&B music. When I last reviewed Tokyo Tribes, it morphed from a standalone work to a trilogy, giving way to various spinoffs, a live-action movie, and a in-development TV series supervised by creator Santa Inoue.

A short recap: The story is set after a time where riots occurred in Tokyo where gangs known as “tribes” control certain areas via a shaky truce. Kai of the “Saru” and Mera of the “Wu-Ronz” are sworn enemies, whose history sets the stage for all-out war involving all tribes for control of Tokyo’s streets.

On the way to drop off Saru’s leader Tera to work, Mera and the Wu-Ronz ambushed Kai, Hasheem and Steno, resulting in Tera being seriously injured. Kai goes after Mera through Shibuya’s rooftops leading to a bat vs. katana battle between the former friends. During the battle, both men nearly fall from a building. Iwao, leader of the Hands, show up with military-grade weaponry, shooting Mera down. Skunk and the other Wu-Ronz rush to Mera’s aid, but Iwao and a few Hands members intervene, demanding payback for Mera cutting off a Hands member’s arm.

While onlookers and police are distracted, Mera miraculously survives his fall, and attempts to kill Hasheem as Hasheem guides Kai to a safer exit from the building. Kai and Tera rush to Hasheem to protect him from Mera but Tera is beheaded by Mera and more chaos ensues. Hasheem, feeling responsible for Tera’s death, attempts suicide while a few of Saru’s members rampage through Shibuya looking for payback against Wu-Ronz members. They find an opportunity through Unkoi, son of the Wu-Ronz benefactor Big Bubba, at a local karaoke bar. While the Saru members made short work of other Wu-Ronz members, Unkoi gravely injures two members, while his personal bodyguard Galileo chases the third to the final page of the book. Meanwhile, Kai is dealing with troubles of his own as his father appears determined to remove him from the Saru for good.

During this volume, I still felt the awesome vibe from the first one, but more meat was in the storyline. Inoue-san gave readers a better explanation why both characters have this vengeful hate toward each other beyond Mera blaming Kai for his girlfriend’s death. During a brief backstory, Bubba’s corruption took Mera’s moral compass and the lives of his parents, which made me feel a little sorry for him since he not only hates Kai but also wants to destroy Bubba’s life as well. I also felt Kai’s pain after Tera’s death since Tera was also a mentor to all the Saru members.

Inoue-san also showed his special skill of adding certain pop-culture references such as Tower Records and displaying renditions of hip-hop and R&B artists’ album covers. The artwork was also top notch, especially when showing Unkoi’s ruthless side as he fought the Saru members. It was as if I was reading the battle scene from Kill Bill Volume 1. Tokyo Pop’s dedication to Tokyo Tribes remains strong, thanks to Alexis Kirsch and David Walker handling translation and adaptation, along with Stuart Levy collaborating with Inoue-san as executive producers, ensuring that this hip-hop vision continues without compromise.

With the Saru in turmoil without a leader, and the Hands and Wu-Ronz preparing for all-out war in Tokyo’s streets, what will happen? Can Kai and Mera triumph over their personal issues and make peace? We’ll revisit the scene of gang warfare in Volume 3.

Brandon Beatty is Editor-At-Large of Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

Otaku Corner: Death Note Vol. 9

Death Note wrapping up in its usual suspense-filled way

Brandon-2012-cutoutScholarly. Resourceful. If I had to describe Light Yagami, I would use these words to characterize him as well as to say that I could see him becoming a future minister of justice for Japan. However, since Mr. Yagami (aka Kira) has possession of the Death Note, I could only think of two words to describe him: tyrant and murderer. In the ninth volume of “Death Note,” Light’s actions fit my latter descriptions of him as his actions continue to have devastating reactions on the United States and Japan.
At the end of Volume 8, Light’s plan to use U.S. Special Forces to attack Mello’s hideout failed greatly because of the involvement of the shinigami Sidoh, the use of the ransom Death Note and use of the Shinigami Eyes by one of Mello’s henchmen. As a result, the Special Forces members along with current U.S. president David Hoope were killed. Reeling from Mello’s brilliant attack, Light devises an attack plan using Misa’s Death Note and having Soichiro make a deal with Ryuk for the Shinigami Eyes. Light’s plan worked successfully in eliminating Mello’s henchmen in addition to recovering the Death Note and finding out Mello’s true identity, but Soichiro was killed by one of Mello’s men, who faked his own death.
During these events, the SPK discovers that they are being disbanded amid a declarationDeath Note Vol. 9 cover of surrender to Kira by acting U.S. President George Sairas. This forces Light to go through a combined barrage of attacks by  Near and Mello in order to disrupt and expose Kira within the Japanese task force. During this three-way battle, Light’s, Mello’s and Near’s tactics result in  decisive wins for each man. In the final chapter, Light ultimately comes out on top by using Demegawa and Sakura TV to reach Kira supporters and rally them to siege the SPK headquarters while taunting Near to escape while he is able.
Like all of the other Death Note volumes I’ve read, Volume 9 still keeps the intriguing mix of supernatural horror and mystery. However, this volume had me thinking that Ohba-san and Obata-san wrote and drew this volume while watching a marathon of the show “24.” While reading, I noticed that while Light has his keen ability to take on many challenges, he also knows that he has Near and Mello standing in his way. I also like how Ohba-san and Obata-san set up Mello and Near as cooperative rivals. Mello tells Near that he is not a tool to capture Kira and threatens to shoot him, but they exchange clues regarding the Death Note when Near gives Mello the only picture available of him. As the Death Note saga begins to close, Light is so close to his dream, yet so far with Near and Mello on his heels.
Credit again goes to Viz Media as they continue to do an excellent job of translation and adaptation, this time assigning the tasks to Tesuichiro Miyaki. Miyaki continues the challenging-yet-successful task of presenting Death Note to the English audience.
I’m getting close to the end of reviewing the Death Note manga series. With only three volumes left, I’m kind of torn between rooting for Light’s noble cause to eradicate evil and L’s heirs continuing his legacy of genius. However, after all that Light has done to criminals and non-criminals alike, I can only take one side: Team Ryuzaki.

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