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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

DC’s Pennyworth: A Spoiler-Free Review of the Pilot

By SiddeeQah Love

“Pennyworth? Why does that name sound familiar? Is this another Kingsman thing?” Questions I asked myself as I prepared for a screening of EPIX new show, DC’s Pennyworth.

 As a self-titled Marvel girl, I often forget many aspects of the DC Universe I enjoyed much more as a child, however, this was something that I never knew. I assumed Alfred was a mononymous superbutler who assisted Batman. Maybe there was more to his story, but how can one explore Alfred while being distracted by the……Batman. My curiosity was immediately piqued when I read that Pennyworth was indeed not a Kingsman thing and in fact a show exploring the backstory of Alfred Pennyworth, who is definitely more than a “mononymous superbutler”. 

Alfred Pennyworth (Jack Bannon, right) and Thomas Wayne (Ben Aldridge)
in a suspenseful moment.

Pennyworth is an enjoyable show exuding the conservative charm of 1960’s London contrasting with the gritty city life of its inhabitants. Alfred Pennyworth, played J is a sexy, well-mannered guy with a youthful face equipped with the badass qualities of a former special-forces officer. We see many layers of Pennyworth as each scene unfolds. We dive right into him transitioning from military life to being an everyday civilian. Though his friends and family doubt him, Alfred is determined to get his security business off the ground and leave behind a life of bouncing at a club in town. However, it’s this very club and a random yankee (who happens to be Thomas Wayne) that change the life of young Pennyworth. We discover a mystery involving an underground world of crime and witness the gripping love story between Alfred and his love interest. As these two worlds collide, our main character must think quickly as he is faced with an undeniable ultimatum. He fearlessly approaches every villainous character with battle expertise and unmatched intellect. 

Bet Sykes (Paloma Faith) is a wicked and dark villain.

The pilot episode captures the essence of many DC storylines, steely and gripping, packed with action, suspense, and stirring moments. So while Pennyworth’s storyline is completely standalone, it is very familiar. We meet a hero who delivers on both brawn and brains with a love interest that leaves the damsel in distress trope behind. Hilarious supporting characters who break up the seriousness of the plot. What’s most familiar are our villains, akin to something you may find in Gotham: dark, twisted, and quirky with a powerful underground influence. Can you tell I like this show? I 10/10 recommend giving Pennyworth a watch, premiering on EPIX on July 28, 2019.

Monday, July 22, 2019

21 Things To Do At Otakon

The head of Otakon 2019 Guest Relations, Ethan Kick, has taken the time out of his busy schedule to provide us a list with some highlights ahead of this year's event, which also marks the 25th anniversary of Otakon.

Otakon List of Awesome! by Otakon Guest Relations Head Ethan Kick

1)            We have so much music this year, everyone! Come check out the amazing funk rock band Bradio, followed by the Tribute to Nujabes Concert later that evening in our Main Events room. That’s not all, though.  We also have an exciting and new project, “RPG National Anthem Variations” Guitar Concert with Sam Griffin and Eric Roth. But that’s not even our final form. Make sure to check out TAKU from M-Flo, who will be performing Saturday night at the Otakon Dance. Then to round it out, check out both Diana Garnet and nano perform on Sunday.

2)            That’s not all for music, though. We have incredible composer Kaoru Wada joining us to talk about his works over the years. You may know him best for composing music in "Inuyasha," "Ace Attorney," "Princess Tutu," "D. Gray-man," and "Ninja Scroll."

3)            With a Tribute to Nujabes, you can’t ignore his contribution to "Samurai Champloo." Make sure to check out our panel with Kirk Thorton and Kari Wahlgren, the voices of Jin and Fuu, respectively. We also have a panel dedicated to the music of Nujabes, with a few artists that worked on the music for "Samurai Champloo" or with Nujabes. This includes Marcus D, Substantial, EyeQ, MINMI, and Shing02.

4)            Switching gears from music for a minute, we obviously have a ton of amazing animation guests and events for you, as well. Check out designer Shigeto Koyama, director Hiromi Wakabayashi, and director Hiroyuki Imaishi from Studio Trigger as they premiere "PROMARE," their new animated movie. Also, join their panel during the weekend, where they will be doing Q&A and doing live drawings.

5)            Fire fighters from "PROMARE" are cool, but sometimes you want a bit of fantasy and goofy antics. Well, lucky for you, Bandai Namco Arts is bringing us some of the amazing team behind “That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime,” with character designer Ryoma Ebata, director Atsushi Nakayama, and voice actor Chikahiro Kobayashi, whom you may know from the show as Ranga but also Saichi Sugimoto in "Golden Kamuy." Come join their panels on Friday and Saturday as they have some fun stuff planned at their events.

6)            That’s not enough anime for Otakon, you say? Well, good thing we are far from finished. We also have FuRyu joining us, presenting the team behind "Laid Back Camp." Voice actress Sayuri Hara, whom you’ll know as Chiaki Ohgaki; producer Shoichi Hotta, whom you may also know for his work on "Kakegurui - Compulsive Gambler"; and director Yoshiaki Kyougoku. Yoshiaki Kyougoku has worked on several awesome projects such as "Seirei no Moribito," "Sengoku Basara," and "Eden of the East," as well as "Kuroko’s Basketball" and "Tokyo Ghoul" as episode director.

7)            We also have producer Michihiko Suwa and voice actress Kikuko Inoue, who are both veterans of the industry. Suwa-san you will know for his work as producer of "City Hunter," "Case Closed," "Detective Conan," "Inuyasha," "Lupin III," and "Magic Knight Rayearth." Kikuko Inoue has acted too many amazing roles to count, but you have probably heard her as Belldandy, Lust, The Boss, Aina Sahalin, Nurse Joy, and I-No. Kikuko Inoue with be joining Suwa-san to talk about their work on the anime "Mix," originally written by legendary manga writer Mitsuru Adachi. Inoue-san plays Mayumi Tachibana and Suwa-san was the producer.

8)            Still not done, though! We are also joined by the incredibly talented Hiroshi Nagahama. He was director on "Mushishi," "Detroit Metal City," and "The Flowers of Evil." He also worked on "The Reflection" from 2017, which was co-created between Nagahama and Stan Lee. Nagahama-san will be discussing the differences between comics in Asia and North America, as well as discussing his own works.

9)            We are also joined by the incredibly talented voice actor Toru Furuya, who you may know as Amuro Ray in "Gundam," Yamcha in "Dragonball," Tuxedo Mask in "Sailor Moon," Pegasus Seiya in "Saint Seiya," and Sabo from "One Piece." He’ll be out talking about his work over the year and being an all-around incredible person.

10)          Our next amazing individual has worked on too many projects to count and needs no introduction. Masao Maruyama is joining us for the first time in Washington, DC. You will know Maruyama-san for his work on "Summer Wars" and "The Girl Who Leapt Through Time." Over the years, he has worked at MADHOUSE as president as well as at MAPPA and M2.

11)          We couldn’t talk about veterans without mentioning Hirokatsu Kihara, who will be joining us again this year. Kihara-san worked at Studio Ghibli on some of its most legendary projects. While you’ve no doubt heard of "Laputa: Castle in the Sky" and "My Neighbor Totoro," he will be here to celebrate the 30thAnniversary of "Kiki’s Delivery Service." He’ll also be discussing ghost stories and all his adventures.

12)          Of course, we couldn’t have an Otakon without amazing North American voice talent, as well! While we already mentioned Kirk Thorton and Kari Wahlgren will be joining us, we also have the amazingly talented industry veterans Richard Epcar and Ellyn Stern. We also have the superbly talented Erika Harlacher, whom you may know as Ann from "Persona 5"; Jason Leibrecht, whom you will know as Dabi in "My Hero Academia" or Hei from "Darker Than Black"; and Elizabeth Maxwell, who, you’ve heard as Midnight in "My Hero Academia" or Arisa Uotani in "Fruits Basket."

13)          Speaking of "Fruits Basket," how could we forget about the Japanese voice cast of "Fruits Basket 2019," who will be here? Makoto Furukawa (Hatsuharu Soma), Manaka Iwami (Tohru Honda), and Nobunaga Shimazaki (Yuki Soma) will all be at Otakon. You’ll know many of them for their other roles, such as Saitama from "One Punch Man" (Makoto Furukawa), Maquia in "Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms" (Manaka Iwami), and Haruka in "Free!" (Nobunaga Shimazaki), along with countless other fantastic roles.

14)          With enough music and anime to shake a stick at, we can move to some of our other amazing programming. Roxanne Modafferi and Serena DeJesus will be joining us again this year to show us some martial arts moves up close. They are both incredibly accomplished athletes, and we are so exited to have them back.

15)          We also have the fantastic costumer designer Jez Roth. Make sure to see Jez’s Lip Synch for your Cosplay, as well as his new event, Project Cosplay live. Have you ever wanted to work on cosplays at a convention in from of an audience? Well, maybe it is a bit exciting for some, but we can't wait to see what everyone creates and to see people jam on stage at Lip Synch for your Cosplay.

16)          Our video rooms this year are getting in the anniversary spirit by showing some of the most influential movies and shows of the last 25 years, right up to today, including "AKIRA," "Penguin Highway," a "Lupin the 3rd" double feature, "Bubblegum Crisis," and so much more. Be sure to check out one of the Saturday Morning Cartoon shows to check out fun episodes of some of the best retro anime in both subbed and dubbed theaters.

17)          Our Workshop spaces are hosting the return of the ShoeString Scientists.  Come build a pokemon terrarium, or learn about paper crafting, armor building, or some of our other totally interactive hands-on events.

18)          Speaking of hands-on, we have a dedicated space again this year hosting the Otakon Makerspace.  Drop in anytime over the entire weekend to do a quick project that you can either take home, or contribute to our Makerspace art exhibit.

19)          Do you like puzzles?  The Otakon Break-in room is returning for 2019, with all new devious, and tricky puzzles and games.  Swing by Room 304 to check it out.  Sessions will run continuously during open hours.

20)          Do you like to dance?  We have three different formats for dancing this year.  First is the Lyra's Formal Ball, an opportunity to dress to impress, and waltz the night away on Friday.  Second is Hiro's Lounge, a swing lounge, running lessons all day, and hosting two live bands during open dance hours, the later night lounge is 18+ with a cash bar.  Third is our Otakon Rave, with DJs pumping out the beats into the early hours.

21)          Cosplay more your thing?  Come check out the Otakon Masquerade on Saturday night, starting at 7:30 p.m.  Many entrants from the Hall Costume Contest participate in a catwalk fashion show, and the Masquerade entries skits will make you laugh, cry, and cheer! Things To 

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