Anime Comes to life in DC

Fans gathered in Washington DC to share their love for Anime!

By: Corey Honeycutt

CHATTANOOGA/Tenn.(UTC/LOOP)–  The Hyatt Regency in Crystal City Alrington, VA. played host to one of many Japanese animation conventions on the weekend of November 12-14th.

Hyatt Regency Crystal City

Hyatt Regency Crystal City, photographer unknown

Anime USA was started by fans in 1999 and became a non profit educational organization in 2004. It’s slogan “Of Otaku, By Otaku and For Otaku has held true throughout its years.

It started off as most conventions with a few hundred people. It now brings in around 5,000 fans a year to the Crystal City Hyatt Regency.

Fans ranging in all ages show up dressed as their favorite characters, from animes and games ranging from Pokemon and Final Fantasy to more obscure titles such as 07 Ghost.

This form of dressing up is called cosplay or “costume play.” It originated in Japan, but has been gaining more and more popularity here in the U.S.

Kuroshitsuji Photoshoot

Kuroshitsuji Photoshoot, photo by Corey Honeycutt

Fans can also put together skits and compete against each other for the title of Best in Show in the masquerade which is the highlight of most conventions and draws the biggest crowds.

Shanna Labriola potrayed the character Van from the series Escaflowne. Her costume consisted of hand made wings from chicken wire, felt and feathers. Overall her outfit took her 25 hours to make.

Van from Escaflowne, Photo by Refractor Productions

“My cousin took me to a convention and that’s how I got started into cosplaying.”

The convention played host to not only the fans to but to many guests who work in the industry such as voice actors, artists, directors and professional costumers.

This year’s guests were voice actors Brina Palencia, Cristina Vee, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, Patrick Seitz and Christopher Sabat. Megan Murphy, Heidi Arnold and Monica Gallagher are a few of the artists guest and Clockwork Dolls, Promise Sisters and Echostream were the bands.

Brina Palencia recently landed the main role of Ciel Phantomhive in the anime Black Butler(Kuroshitsuji).  Black Butler is an anime gaining popularity over here in the US and already has a big fan base. She has voiced small and large roles in such popular animes as Fullmetal Alchemist, Nabari no Ou, Darker Than Black and XXXholic.

“My favorite role has to be Natsuki in Summer Wars, because she is raised by her grandmother and I was raised by my grandmother. It is probably the most genuine acting I’ve ever done.”

Even though she has voiced main characters in the past when asked how she felt about the part of Ciel she said she was terrified.

Brina Palencia, photo by Corey Honeycutt

“It’s really exciting, but I’m so terrified about it. I feel I worked very hard on the part and researched the accent. I’m proud of the work I did, I’m just hoping the fans like it. ”

Brina Palencia just finished a web series called Throwingstones on top of her other voice acting roles.

“It’s sort of a Breakfast Club meets horror movie.”

AUSA is just one of many conventions dedicated to anime, games and manga. There are enough conventions to go to one every weekend. They range from smaller ones with only to a few hundred people, to over 50,000 people.

So if you feel that Halloween is to short a time to dress up, or have a knack for creating costumes and are an anime or gaming fan, there are plenty of conventions to choose from.

Other conventions are listed below that can be attended throughout the year in many different states.





Anime Weekend Atlanta

The Archive of Lost Games Vol. 1: The Dark Spire

By Danny Butler

CHATTANOOGA (UTC/The Loop) — Some of the greatest video games in existence sometimes end up falling through the cracks upon their release. Bad marketing, horrific box art or radical game play styles often doom these titles to a life of obscurity.

My mission is to find these titles and find out what made them fail. Most of these games can be found in bargain bins or in used games stores for $15 or less, and none of the titles ever eclipsed 10,000 units in sales. The first title I have found is a delightful game called The Dark Spire published by Atlus. Atlus, one of the kings of the obscure gaming market, consistently publishes extremely challenging and in-depth titles.

The Dark Spire does not disappoint on this front. Drawing heavily from titles such as Wizardry or Etrian Odyssey, The Dark Spire allows players to create their own team of adventurer to explore a massive, mysterious tower filled with thieves, witches and monsters.

The Dark Spire, published By Atlus

The Dark Spire, published By Atlus

The game, which sold around 30,000 units , has a high difficulty curve which turned some people away. Players pretty much have to save every couple of steps in order to secure their safety, but since the game is structured like on old school adventure game, much like you would see on the Atari 2600, this mechanic helps give the game its unique charm and challenge.

The adventure is very long and engaging with a ton of side-quest and a huge gamut of enemies. The game also comes with the soundtrack if you can find a new copy, which in most cases has dropped down to $10.

My special guest archivist this week is James Webb, a senior from Maryville, TN, who said he was very impressed by The Dark Spire.

“I thought the game was great,” he said. “The similarities between this and Wizardry really drew me in, plus the difficulty and length of the game play is sure to make The Dark Spire an instant hit with dungeon crawler fans.”

The game includes an option which allows for players to either play the game in two different styles: Modern and “retro.” Retro features almost no color and the environment is all in a “wire-frame” type design, while modern offers plays to explore the dungeon in “lush” 3-D graphics

Check out these great clips of gameplay footage

Take a Magical Mystery Tour with The Beatles: Rock Band

by Louise Elliott

CHATTANOOGA (The Loop/UTC) — The Beatles have reunited and you’re their newest member in The Beatles: Rock Band.

This game is rated T for Teen for Mild Lyrics and Tobacco References.

This latest in the line of Rock Band video games offers players a uniquely rewarding experience by allowing them to be part of the musical journey as a member of the legendary quartet.

Just like other versions of Rock Band, players can perform on drums, guitar, bass, or vocals to a number of full length songs.   The Beatles version however has been revamped to reflect the bands’ musical journey and their establishment as cultural icons.

Songs can be performed with up to three vocalists, whose goal is to master the famous Beatles three-part harmonies.

The play format is also slightly different.  Players can begin their journey as The Beatles did at The Cavern Club, the Liverpool locale where the band was discovered.  The journey then continues to other famous stops along The Beatles’ 10-year career.  Players can perform concerts on The Ed Sullivan Show, Budokan (where The Beatles made their Japanese debut), and even rock out at Shea Stadium.

The game disc includes 45 Beatles songs.  Among some of the best game play moments are “Come Together”, “Can’t Buy Me Love”, which is performed at The Ed Sullivan Theater, and “Revolution”, from the Abbey Road album.  More songs are available through download.

The allowance of The Beatles’ music in video game form may have been a surprise to some, as the owners of the groups’ catalog have been famously reluctant in releasing songs for commercial use.  According to, the game was developed with creative input from Apple Corps (the Beatles’ label), along with that of surviving band members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.

  • Released 9/9/09 by developer Electronic Arts
  • The Beatles: Rock Band stand alone version (game disc only) MSRP $59.99
  • Published by MTV games

Beatles fans and gamers alike have been anticipating the release of the game for months.

“I love The Beatles,” said Michael Eubanks, a Memphis senior.  “Their music is awesome.”  Eubanks said he has not yet played the game but is excited to get his hands on it.  He said he thinks “Come Together” would be a fun song to play.  “I just love song,” he said.

Amanda Cook, a sophomore from Nashville said she really wants to play the game too, but thinks it’s too pricey.  “I play Rock Band when I get the chance, it’s just really expensive,” said Cook.  “Beatles songs are well known and normally really good, so I think it would be fun,” she said.

Some students have already played the game, but share the sentiment that the game is overpriced.

“I was happy with it, but it’s expensive to buy the guitar and the game,” said Ben Knuettel, a Chattanooga junior.  “It’s cool because it’s all Beatles songs, but I wish there were more songs on it,” Knuettel said.

Overall, the game offers many strong points and memorable highlights.  The graphics are far more impressive than those of other Rock Band franchise offerings.  The story-telling theme is also a plus as it makes the player feel more a part of the game than other similarly modeled versions have.  Playing this is game is becoming one of “The Fab Four”, as you witness their transformation both musically, visually, and culturally.

The only downfall of this version is that it occasionally exposes the overt simplicity of many of The Beatles best songs.  The drum and guitar parts are sometimes extremely repetitive and would be a bore if it weren’t for the attention grabbing graphics displayed during play mode.  Often times, particularly during the earlier catalog, consecutive songs have the exact same drum beat or guitar rhythm.  This can take away from the challenge that makes music video so appealing to player.

Despite, or perhaps thanks to, its sometimes overly simplistic feel, The Beatles:Rock Band is the perfect party game.

I give this game 8 out of 10 Choo-choo whistles.

Write to Louise Elliott at

Related Story: Beatlemania Returns

Beatlemania Returns

By Louise Elliott

LONDON (TheLoop/AP)-Forty years since their breakup, the Beatles are back with newly remastered albums and a video game featuring their music.

Digitally remastered versions of all of the Beatles albums are being released.

The new video game follows in the successful footsteps of the Rock Band legacy and will allow players to become the Beatles while performing their songs.

Fans in London lined up to buy the newly released materials.  Many said they love The Beatles’ music because its what their parents listened to.  University student, Daniela Gutierrez, waited in line to get the video game.  “My parents were huge Beatles fans and I grew up listening to their music,” said Gutierrez. “I can’t wait to have the game and start playing the songs.”

Some Beatles fans however said they are happy with the CDs they currently own and will not be replacing them with remastered versions.  “I appreciate the songs and I love the Beatles, but I’m happy enough with the CD collection I’ve got,” said Rory Mulcahy, a visitor to Abbey Road Studio. “I think there is a bit of moneymaking in there.”

  • The Beatles first appeared on The Ed Sullivan show in 1964
  • The band broke up around 1970
  • The band released 12 studio albums
  • The Beatles: Rock Band video game released
  • New digitally remastered albums released

Related Story: Take a Magical Mystery Tour with The Beatles: Rock Band