Sunday, 26 October 2008

London anime expo: cosplay, fan girls and Heroes

"I love you!" said the Nabari no Ou fan before glomping me big time. A confession of love was not what I was expecting at this years expo, but as any convention junkie will tell you, at expo, anything goes. I decided to cosplay as Yoite from this modern day ninja series because a)Yoite rocks and b)his cosplay is dead cheap: hat, gloves and a scarf. Aside from this fan girl, no one else knew who I was. It's one of those anime's that nobody in the real world knows about, but out in cyber space, it's super popular.

I took my mate Sarah with me, her knowledge of anime dates back to 1996, when her brothers would get her to watch the likes of Guyver and Tank Police. In two words: retro anime. This time around Code Geass and Vampire Knight cosplayers were the most popular. I've been fangirling Vampire Knight Guilty, so I simply couldn't resist taking the picture above of the blood thirsty Night Class.

There were some rather amusing moments, especially when Sarah asked me what Yaoi was. (Crikey! I didn't see that one coming!)She later spotted two people chained together and asked what that was all about. How on earth do I explain the plot of Loveless, without it sounding somewhat... dodgy? I made up some random explanation about magic, it being a murder mystery and avoided that whole Neko thing, but I don't think she was convinced. Especially when I dropped my lunch and ran over to take their picture.

I've also realised I'm a useless cosplayer. Every time someone took my picture, I wore a cheesy grin. Yoite doesn't smile. Ever. Flashbacks of cosplaying Light sprang to mind. Here are some really good Death Note cosplayers who did things properly:

When you are in the anime/manga/cosplay world, you have a habit of running into the same people. Eagle eyed blog readers will recognise the lady below as Chun-Li from my Guinness Book of Records photo's.

The cosplay that made my day was this one below from Prince of Tennis. I had given up hope of finding one, but in the last half hour of expo I spotted her flame coloured hair.

And er... here's that guy from Heroes. I was too lazy to get an autograph, so here's a paparazzi shot instead.

Credit scoring: what you need to know

This week I have two articles in the Independent on Sunday, the main one takes a look at credit scoring and the surprising ways that people can damage their score. I spoke to a number of interesting people and I was surprised to learn that anything from missing payments on your mobile phone bill to mail order catalogues could effect you in the long run. The most surprising discovery were credit cards. Even if you no longer use your flexible friend, if you don't cancel it, it will still show up to credit agencies that you have access to large amounts of credit.

As a result of my article my mum said that she would be cancelling her credit card properly as she had no idea that this would effect her credit score. Now my mum isn't big on personal finance, my parents told me to, " Stop talking about the credit crunch," while I was doing my MA project, so the fact that she has changed her approach to money by reading something that I have written is an added bonus. There are also some tips in the article about how to improve your credit score, for those who want to know.

With so many people spending money in the run up to Christmas, it can be easy to forget about household bills, but the most important thing I learnt was that it's important to stay on top of your bills. It may not sound glamorous but is a sound way to keep your finances in check.

I also wrote another piece on packaged current accounts about whether paying a monthly fee for a bank account is worth those extra benefits.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

My article in today's Independent on Sunday

Some of you might not know but I'm currently on work experience at The Independent on Sunday, and an article I wrote jointly with another journalist on tax self-assessment is in today's newspaper.

Researching the story, I realised just how complicated tax is but my challenge was to make the subject more understandable as well as explaining how you can save money on tax. It is my first article for the newspaper, but I have learnt a lot from Julian, everything from nailing quotes, to getting past press officers and chasing a story when the clock is ticking! More of my articles will be appearing next week.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Life in the blogosphere: One year on...

Amazing as it may seem but it's now been a year since I first invaded the blogosphere. A year is a long time out in cyberspace, a long way from my first entry which I first did as part of my journalism course. So I thought I would take a step back and have a look at the kind of impact that this blog has had in my life.

If you scroll back to my very first entry you will find that it was all about Tokyo tribes, it was a time in my life when I had desperately wanted to go to the neon city. I never imagined that a year later I would have visited the place that has played a pinnacle role in the world of anime and manga.

In that year, I made my journalism debut for The Daily Telegraph while still a student and somehow without realising it, I have achieved some of my own dreams. What I didn't realise back then, is that there are always new dreams to replace the old. These are uncertain times, but my blog while mostly factual, also served as a way to tell my observations on the world.

Putting my blog into Technorati, I discovered the other people who have commented on my blog - everything from reporting on cosplay, feminism in manga to the rise of the super geek!

I have been kicked off the computer repeatedly for blogging too much and local journalism took a whole new meaning for me, when I blogged about the Harrow gas explosion, my first real experience of citizen journalism.

I blogged about the anime shows that have been hijacking my world. Writing about the credit crunch in the UK and America. But amazingly if anyone is wondering what entry got the most hits, it was my review of J-rockers An Cafe that really got your attention! No one was more surprised than me...

I also met some rather interesting people in cyberspace. Random Curiosity who fed my need for more Nabari no Ou. A christian evangelist on the 'what if' possibility if Fight Club's Tyler Durden was real. Lots of people who commented on my money posts and not forgetting the anime and manga fans from across the globe who dropped by, even just to say, "We love Fruits Basket too." To the 10,000 people who have visited my blog in this year, wherever in the world you may be reading this, thank you!

Because it's so easy to forget that a blog is more than just about the writer, it's also about the readers too. I hope you will join me again in another crazy year and although I don't know what the future has in store for me, I promise to make it an interesting journey.