Sunday, 30 September 2007

Animania Sydney

Today Judith and visited Animania Sydney at the Sydney Townhall. It is a long weekend and the weather is gloriously sunny with expansive blue skies as the cold is giving way to spring. The event brings to Sydney-siders Cosplay, Karaoke, Art and Games Rooms as well as anime screenings. Discussions and previews appeared in a range of panels, workshops and costume and drawing competitions, swordsmanship display, as well as the food fair on the terrace outside with takoyaki, yakisoba, karaage, etc.

The insight talks exploring the East meets West theme included:
Fandom: Cultures of flattery and expression or disrespect and theft?
When the West was Spirited Away: Anime and its Changing Status in Western Culture
Boy’s Love, East and West
Beyond Entertainment: Cross-cultural Communication and Education Through Anime*
Mickey Mouse and Astro Boy: The differences and similarities in animation east and west*
Fan Community: Otaku-dom in Australia

(*the ones we watched) The expert panelists included: Katherine Buljan; Dr Mio Bryce (Head of Japanese Studies, Macquarie University); Queenie Chan (Author and artist of 'The Dreaming' manga series); Dr Catherine Driscoll (Chair of Gender Studies, University of Sydney); Travis Edwards (Club President, Japanese Animation UWS); Ben Hawkes (Writer for Mania Magazine); Sylvester Ip (Assistant Anime Brand Manager, Madman Entertainment); James Kelly; Dean Prenc; Komala Singh.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

John Kaizan Neptune 2.4 shaku + epoxy art

Somehow I serendipitously came home from the Bisei Kenshukan Festival with a new shakuhachi! Never before have I been able to reach the hole-distance on a 2.4 shaku (approximately 75cm bamboo length, cf. 54cm 1.8). But John Kaizan Neptune's instrument he had at the festival achieved an easier, more comfortable finger position by using smaller holes nearer to the player(maybe slightly more difficult for meri notes but then again easier for covering leaklessly with small fingertips!). I was so stoked that I could reach and get a deep tone out of it that, with Kakizakai's endorsement and assurance, I took the plunge. Since, I have been slightly building up/augmenting the height of the 2nd hole in order to use the different finger position (underside of the paddy forefinger fleshy part) of the right-hand index finger, more like the position used by players on bigger 2.4s, 2.7s and so on. This eliminates the cramped right wrist and potential for strain. So I followed Kakizakai Sensei's instructions and used Araldite (the Australian brand-name equivalent of two-part epoxy glue) to 'sculpt' a donut around the hole and then sanded/filed it, thereby creating a smooth seal that sounds decent for koro koro (trill-like) techniques. I also happen to find the Neptune shak very handsome with its numerous and wild 'teeth'and dark bamboo around the root end. Obviously, it has greater inertia to play at first and is not as loud as my Miura instruments but I'm working on that and becoming acquainted with my new friend. I enjoy the thick, slightly jinashi/raw organic sound and sonorous voice. This is rather fortunate because my 1.8 has decided to misbehave for a bit as the middle joint is dry and shrunken (not cracked) but not really sealing properly either. For now I have to practise on 2.1 and 2.4. The latter is almost a different approach with deeper breaths and bigger embouchure. Many players report that playing bigger flutes improves their 1.8 technique because it requires so much breath and sensitivity.

The epoxy glue drying round a cylinder of paper until filing/sanding. The (almost) finished result.

I also dyed the fluoro green Bisei Festival shak shirt to a slightly more sombre tone (eliminating the need for sunglasses while wearing) and modified a PVC tube for a more protective carry-case for the 2.4 for use on planes and my bike.