Friday, August 24, 2012

Howl's Moving Castle

Howl's Moving Castle by Dianna Wynne Jones was published in Bulgaria in 2010 by Art Line Studios.
It came as a surprise for me when I found it in the bookstore, because I didn't know that they had any intention on publishing the book. So I instantly bought it and read it and it was very enjoyable. The book is a lot different from studio Ghibli's movie and even though the movie is very well made and very pretty the book makes a lot more sense. Some of the characters in the book were mixed into one, but I won't tell you who so I don't spoil anything and the storyline is different with a lot more details.
If you have watched the movie and liked it, I strongly recommend reading the book (if you haven't read it yet), because it's a very different experience. 
Art Line Studios also published the second book of Dianne Wynne Jones' Castle Series - Castle in the Air in 2011, but I still haven't read it. They will soon publish House of Many Ways, which is the third book.
For more information visit Art Line Studios' webpage - Art Line Studios

Sunday, August 19, 2012


Shiawasecon was a really small convention (it was more like an anime meeting), that was held yesterday (18th of August) in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. It was organized by the newly formed anime club in Plovdiv, called Hiroyuki. I don't know why but there were about 30 people there, which is very weak attendance. The whole thing started at about 10:30 and ended at about 13:00, so as you can see it was very short.
The event was mainly about cosplay and I was really surprised to see only 4 cosplayers, who participated and I am very sorry to say that only two of them had made costumes that looked like the characters. So the cosplayers were Umanosuke from Samurai Champloo, Tony Tony Chopper from One Piece, Misa from Death Note and a random cat character, who introduced herself as Misa's cat. Umanosuke's costume was very nice and he really looked like the character, but I have seen this costume and his performance at previous events, so I wasn't impressed. Chopper was cosplayed by a girl and was really cute. Misa hadn't put any effort in her costume and here hair was brown and wavy and it actually should have blond and straight. There was also a girl in a maid costume and a girl in a lolita costume, who were selling the tickets for the event and their dresses were gorgeous and looked really great on them. Umanosuke and Chopper won the prices for best costume and best performance. They both won free tickets for the two days of Aniventure, Umanosuke won a Death Note DVD box set and Chopper won a Soul Eater DVD box set, which my opinion are really nice awards. 
After the cosplay there was a quiz and Vasilena (the friend that came with me) and I won prices. I won a creepy dog-like plush key chain and she won an Antistar skull badge. There was also a short discussion about Bulgarian cosplay.
I expected a lot more from this event - more cosplayers, more audience and I expected it to be longer and more entertaining, so I feel a little disappointed. I think that club Hiroyuki had made everything they could to make the event happen and to make it enjoyable, but maybe they didn't advertise enough and that is the reason why there was such weak attendance.
Shiawasecon was held in this building

Here is the stand with handmade masks and charms, which they were selling.

The maid girl and the lolita girl, who were selling the tickets



 The hosts of the event

Vasilena with the maid and the lolita

Vasilena and Chopper

Here you can see what the tickets looked like

Friday, August 10, 2012

Bulgarian Manga Artists

Since there are many Bulgarian manga artists I will be talking only about those, who have their stories published in books one way or the other.
The first one is known as Satanasov or Boreworm, but his actual name is Daniel. In the picture on the side you can see a page from his gag manga Bonzai, published in Daga (rainbow) magazine in 2004.
 Next is one of my personal favourite manga of his - Bion. It also was published in Daga magazine in 2004 and I think that this is the only black an white manga of his, that I have seen so far. He prefers to draw in full colour.
You can read Bion here - Bion

 This is a picture from the manga Dragon Last, published in the second book of the anthology The Mammoth Book of Best New Manga in 2007.
You can read Dragon Last here - Dragon Last
This is a picture from Satanasov's manga Shaman, published in Comics magazine in 2006. 
He also works on the Chisuji project, which you can check out here ---> Chisuji
Check out his gallery to see more of his amazing artwork ---> Satanasov's Gallery
 Next is an artist, named Ivan Koritarev, but known as Drazen or Drazebot. On the side you can see pages from his manga Steam, published in Comics magazine in 2006. 
Don't forget to visit his amazing gallery ---> Drazebot's Gallery

 Next artist is a very talented girl, named Anna Tsocheva and know as Rikae. On the side you can see her book Sketchbook of the Soul, in which you can find almost all her manga stories. It contains the manga Between the Sky and the Earth, Exit, Chibi High, A Story about Loneliness and Sketchbook of the Soul. A Story About Loneliness was published in issue 10 of Shogun magazine in 2010. She has made two more stories, which I haven't seen or read, though and they are Pyronan (2002) and Utop!a (2003).
Rikae's amazing artwork can be seen in her gallery---> Rikae's Gallery
Now I will be talking about the winners of the Aniventure Manga Contest from 2010 an 2011. 
My personal favourite is Vasilena Harizanova, known as Watapoku. She won 1st place in 2010 with her story Visit to the Black Doctor and 2nd place in 2011 with her story Grey Bird (she actually deserved 1st place again, but... yeah..). Visit to the Black Doctor was also published in issue 16 of Shogun magazine. I really love her artwork. Don't forget to have a look at her gallery ---> Watapoku's Gallery
You can also read Visit to the Black Doctor here - Visit to the Black Doctor
Second place in 2010 was won buy two boys, who worked as a team - Zakero Tubayashi (Dimitar), who wrote the story and Darkstalker (Boyan), who drew the artwork. Their story Junk Boy has a really interesting story and nice artwork. You can visit their galleries by clicking the following links - Zakero's Gallery  and Darkstalker's Gallery
Third place in 2010 was won by Alera Milkova. Her manga is called Cliche and the story is really cliche. Her artwork is average, but she really has improved since then and you can clearly see that in her gallery - Alera's Gallery
Ok, here comes the hard part. I honestly don't like 1st and 3rd place from 2011 and I can't even call them manga. First place was taken by Milena Simeonova, known as Oruba, and her manga Lucky. Her drawing looks like the scribble of a 12-year old child and the story is very simple. You can see her manga here - Lucky and her gallery here - Oruba's Gallery and judge for yourself.
Third place was taken by Irena Mitkova, known as Keri and her manga Forelock, Elastic, Tails. Ah, what can I say about this... It's pencil work with almost no shades and bad or no background at all. I think that if she had put just a little more effort into it, the manga would have turned really great, but she hasn't done that and everything just looks like scribbles, done during lessons. Unfortunately, I couldn't find her gallery to show you her artwork.
I don't think that these manga books can be found on the market. You might find some of the issues of Shogun or Comics in the second hand bookshops and you can find the Manga Contest Winners at Aniventure (the biggest anime/manga convention in Bulgaria). 
I think I covered everyone in this feature. Feel free to tell me if I have missed someone and feel free to comment and share opinions :)

Monday, August 6, 2012


Animania is an anime and manga magazine that was published by Artline Studios and Pro Films in 2009. It, unfortunately, has only 6 issues, because there wasn't much interest in it (again). Yes, anime and manga things here tend to die very easily... I guess that's because the first 5 issues were somewhat expensive (8 lv, about 4 euro), because they came with a DVD with 4 episodes of Fullmetal Alchemist and they weren't very big (about 40-60 pages). Issue number six, thought, was perfect. It was bigger, without DVD and at the very reasonable price of 5 lv. There was supposed to be issue number seven, but it never came out.
In every issue there were news about what's happening with the anime industry in Japan, reviews of all the new and popular anime, review of anime studios, articles about Japan and articles on popular culture that has nothing to do with anime. Every issue included a poster and had a certain major theme:
Issue number one's theme was Naruto. 
Issue number two's theme was Fullmetal Alchemist.
Issue number three's theme was Code Geass.
Issue number four's theme was Cowboy Bebop.
Issue number five's theme was One Piece. 
Issue number six's theme was Ghost in the Shell.
I think that they started with Naruto, because they wanted to catch the attention of the audience, since Naruto is very popular here (as in everywhere in the world), not only among anime and manga fans, but among normal people too. 
In issue number two they introduced two new sections - Otaku Culture and Anime Versus. In Otaku culture they talked about cosplay, fan art, doujinshi and things like that. I personally really liked the Anime Versus section, because it was always really fun to read different opinions on different topics like Japanese animation versus Western animation or Originality versus Cliche and so on. They also started talking about Japanese games and movies and started doing manga reviews.
With issue number three they started to include collectable cards. I had all the cards that had come with the magazines, but my deck wasn't completed, because they stopped publishing the magazine. And then I got lucky. One of the publishers contacted me and said that they will send me the rest of the cards, because they knew that I was buying and reading the magazine, since I had commented on every new issue. So, that's how I got the completed set, which I will be showing below :)
I really liked this magazine. It had various interesting content and it was fun to read too. It's really too bad that it didn't last for long, it would have been great.
The six issues of Animania
The back of the deck of cards
The Spades and the three Jokers
 The Clubs
The Hearts
The Diamonds

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Collection Update-N1

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon / 美少女戦士セーラームーン  by Takeuchi Naoko- vol 1, vol 2, vol 3, vol 4, vol 5 in English.This is actually the Shinsoban version (new version) of the manga. When I saw them at first online I thought that they are a little pricy - 11$ (about 17 lv) - so I didn't think of buying them at all. However, when I saw them in the bookstore I noticed that they are bigger than the usual volume of manga and they had same coloured pages.  So I went back home and made a little research and it seems that they have gone over the whole manga and remade some of the panels and added new pictures in some of the pages and it really looks great. The Shinsoban version is 12 volumes, instead the original 18 volumes, which means, as I said, that every new volume is about 80 pages bigger than before. So I decided that they are worth and price and went to buy them. I actually sold my old volume 18 to get the new volume 5, because the one I had was mirrored (it was in western reading style), the names of the main characters were changed (Usagi was named Serena, Mamoru was named Darien, Chibiusa was named Rini etc.) and the printing wasn't very good, because some of the shades were dulled or missing. As for the Shinsouban, I have to say that it's a really high quality printing and I find it to be much better than before.