Straight Outta Kanto Interviews: J Con Ireland – Ireland’s Newest Biggest Nerd Convention!

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Greetings Nerdalingers! Welcome back to Straight Outta Kanto – Ireland’s newest and weirdest Pokemon blog about nostalgia, nerd culture, nonsense… and more! We hope you enjoyed the summer break (we certainly did!) but now that it’s Back to School Season is upon us, it’s Back to Blogging for us!

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We are thrilled today to be interviewing one of the most promising conventions I’ve been to in recent years… J Con!

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Held for the first time November 2017 at Dublin’s Croke Park Stadium for one day, yours truly was gracing the Artist Alley with her Pokemon Creepypasta prints, and also mingling with cosplayers and fellow nerds, browsing the browsables, purchasing some saucy nerd goods and soaking up the over-all Otakurific atmosphere of the event.

This year I will be back in the Artist Alley (do please stop by my table and pester me with your Pokemon-problems, fan theories, Pocky sharing abilities and hugs – I accept all ❤ ) and I heartily beseech you guys to come along for the bigger and better J Con – it’s two days now! However, if you need more convincing than my puny efforts there… Let’s meet… J Con!

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[SOK:] Firstly, please tell me who you are in relation to J Con, what your role is and how long you’ve been a part of the team:

My name is Joe, I am the Director of J Con. (It seems I am also becoming known as “That J Con Guy”. So I have been part of it since the start! I have done some interpretation for Japanese guests at Akumakon, and organised a lot of different events. But this would be my first experience with really organising a con.

[SOK:] Were you apart of the J Con crew last year? How are you finding this year’s prep in comparison to last year’s? Is it crazier? A little less crazy? Just as crazy?

This year… is going okay! It is less crazy in the sense that we have the ball rolling from last year. But more crazy because we decided to expand to two days! So there are a lot more moving parts this year.

[SOK:] You guys are hosting J Con for two days this year as opposed to last year’s one day event – were you surprised at the turn out of last year’s con? The feedback as a trader/attendee my end was nothing but positive, how did you guys yourself find the feedback? Is that what prompted you to turn it into a bigger event?

We were delighted and surprised that so many people came along! And it seems like everyone enjoyed the day, and that is all we were aiming and hoping for. So now we are back being nervous wondering whether enough people will come along to make it all work. But we just want to organise a fun weekend for everyone! [SOK: And I’m sure it will be!]

[SOK:] What events/guests are you most psyched about having at this year’s con?

Everything! We are delighted to have a special guest voice actor, Kyle Hebert. His credits list is incredible, and he seems like an awesome dude. So we are excited to have him over.

Our cosplay guests, Nadia SK from Italy, and Cos Chloo and Shadow Sionnach from here, are wicked too, so we are absolutely psyched for the cosplay this year!

And then we will be having the amazing chef Yoshimi from Wa Café back again, YouTubers Super Eyepatch Wolf and CdawgVA, “Ireland’s Japanese Cuisine Queen” Fiona Uyema, there are too many things! [SOK: Dude, you’re making me hungry… this sounds amazing!]

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[SOK:] For future cons if you had a magic wishlist, what event/guest would you like to see grace the programme of events at J Con? Who would be your dream special guest? 

Hayao Miyazaki. And a real pokemon. [SOK: I. Can’t. Concur. Hard. ENOUGH!!!]

[SOK:] There’s been a lot of turbulence over the last couple of years with various conventions in Ireland either ending permanently or going on hiatus or new, smaller cons rising to the forefront and so forth, how do you think this “up in the air-ness” of the convention has effected the convention going fanbase? Has it at all? Are the fans still there but finding new cons? Where does J Con fit into all this? 

Yes, there has been a lot of changes and lots of happenings in the con scene! And it has definitely affected things. I suppose the biggest thing that affected us was the Gamer Con fiasco. People are just wary of new cons because of it. So we were like, “hold on a sec we have nothing to do with that! Judge us on us! We just want to organise a fun day?!” And starting out, especially for gaming cons, has become more difficult because of that.

In terms of cons coming and going… again it makes it difficult for people to go along to a new con, they aren’t sure whether they can trust a new event. Just like going to a new coffee shop, a new pub, or a new anything. I think part of the reason cons struggle to survive is because of the moolah. Fans might think Cons are cashing in all over the place… but it is quite the opposite! Eeeek! In reality, it is super difficult to organise a big event for €20 per person.

As for where J Con fits in… we have no idea, yet! We are in the same space as Eirtakon. But we don’t want people to expect the same thing, or think we are the same. We are a different con, ya know? A huge motivation for me with J Con, is to let people experience not only anime and manga and cosplay, but lots of traditional Japanese culture too. Speaking Japanese, calligraphy, trying Sake (if you’re over 18!), origami, etc etc. Hence the name, Japan Convention!! [SOK: Oh my giddy aunt, I think I’m going to digivolve my dragon balls with excitement here…!]

And at the end of the day, I probably repeat it too often but we just want people to come along, get good value for money and have lots of craic!

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[SOK:] What’s been your personal favourite convention experience/memory and do you feel that’s something you’d like to bring to J Con or is J Con and your own personal Con experiences totally separate? Or is a mix of all the cons incorporated somehow organically into convention planning?

Walking into Dublin Comic Con when it’s in mid flow, so many people in such a good mood, you can almost taste the craic in the air. It’s great! I also did a coffee stand and a Sake tasting at Akumakon, and that was really special!

[SOK:] Do you have any hilarious or embarrassing convention stories about J Con from last year that you wouldn’t be too humiliated to share? (We promise we won’t laugh… too hard!)

We could tell you, but we’d have to… [SOK: Oh, you saucy tease! That’s what they all say…!]

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[SOK:] As Pokemon is the name of the game here at Straight Outta Kanto, can you divulge to us any Pokemon related plans for this year’s J Con? Do you feel it’s a fandom that does or doesn’t need to represented too intensely at conventions by the organisers? Is there a place/market for hosting the Pokemon TCG/VCG events at conventions? 

There have been multiple sightings of wild Pikachu in the last few months… we sense there might be some kind of coming together of Pikachu?! Just a rumour so far though

Pokemon is great! It’s probably the single biggest gateway to Japan/anime/cons/being a nerd, so it will always have a place at cons. [SOK: It was certainly MY gateway Nerd Drug…!]

[SOK:] Ok. You’ve got a choice between Bulbasaur, Squirtle or Charmander as your starter ‘Mon… Who do you pick!?

Bulbasaur! 

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Thank you sooooo much to J Con for taking time out of their crazy busy schedule to come play with us for a while – I genuinely cannot wait for this year’s convention and I hope you guys are now convinced to come give it a whirl! Ah g’wan… Leave yer mammy’s basement for a while and go minlge with some non-digital humanoids…! 😉

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There we have it nerdlings! Keep watching the skeys, I mean skies!

For more information on Straight Outta Kanto, feel free to follow our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/StraightOuttaKanto91/ or join our group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1623889321229114/  

We are also now on Twitter @KantoOutta – follow us, we follow back!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

memea

 

 

Straight Outta Kanto Interviews: Pokemon Painter – Cat Dobson.

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Greetings fellow PokeNerds! Welcome to Straight Outta Kanto – your newest Irish blog for News, Nerd Culture, Nonsense and sometimes… more!

Today on Straight Outta Kanto we are shining a dirty great spot-light on an up and coming new talent on the Irish fanart scene, Sligo artist… Cat Dobson. (Occasionally known as “Dobby.” Keep your socks away from her however, I need a good servant around the place…!)

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(1) Tell me briefly about who you are and how you came about being a crazy Pokemon lady:

My name is Cat Dobson, I’m from Sligo, I became a not-so-crazy Pokemon Lady when I reached an age where I had more ability to invest in Pokemon as I wanted. When I was a kid, the whole pocket money thing was yeah, a thing! So shout out to my bro John Dobson for his diligence in us co-ordinating Pokemon Gameboy games to efficiently trade Pokemon, ya genius!

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(2) Tell me briefly about when and how you first discovered the Pokemon scene in Ireland and how and when you got into it:

Even though I first loved Pokemon from age eight or nine, I first discovered a Pokemon scene that felt more substantial when I went to ‘Eirtakon’, Dublin in 2009, where people of all ages were actively playing in battle tournaments, or talking cards or buying Pokemon merchandise, and that’s actually where my obsession with obtaining all Eeveelution Plushies started 😉

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(3) What is your personal experience with the Irish Pokemon scene? Do you feel it’s as represented as the scenes in other countries? Obviously Ireland isn’t as big as Japan or America etc. but still, do you think we’re small but hardcore? How do you feel females are represented on the Irish nerd scene?

My personal experience with the Irish Pokemon scene is definitely down the culture of Ireland; we’re a friendly, open minded lot in our green isle, and we bring that to the nerd community definitely.

We’re not as big as Japan or the US, but we party and play enough to make marks all the same! The banter and gameplay never ends with us!

From firsthand and from speculation, female representation is mostly warm and encouraging between the conventions, I’m even finding that girls are growing up within the scene, excited to cosplay and game and participate in cosplay masquerades and skits, and everyone is so receptive to their performances and hard work.

The haters or judgemental aren’t even worth crediting. [SOK – Preach Sista…!]

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(4) What are your hopes for your Pokemon activities/gaming etc for the rest of 2018 and onto 2019:

I’d definitely love to see more of intimate Pokemon battle groups, with their sitting cross legged in the corners, shouting ‘GET EM CHARIZARD!’ and their snacks (Pocky!) in the cons, and I know we’ve come so far from the likes of the Gameboy games, and will go further.
I’m a self professed Pokemon Go addict XD.
The selling of artwork, I would hope it goes very far, because it’s very rewarding, and I hope to sell Pokemon artwork myself (shout out to the horror musician/illustrator and Pokemon Blogger Venus de Vilo for giving me the idea back at Bro Con 2017, ya legend!) [SOK – We cheerfully accept your shout out.]
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(5)  What is your favourite Pokemon memory? 
Ooh, that’s definitely a tough one.
I’ve near danced in public from catching Legendaries and Snorlax (because he’s ma bro!) in public playing Pokemon Go, but I think my ultimate Pokemon memory was when my mum gave me a Pikachu and Pichu covered Gameboy colour as a gift, along with my Pokemon Silver as my first ever Pokemon game, I near cried I was so happy.
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(6) What is your most prized Pokemon related possession?
Toss up between the Pikachu Gameboy colour and my cartridge and Nintendo Pokemon games in first place, and then my plushies definitely follow.
My friends gave me Pokemon plushies and shirts as gifts, and I love them so much, I’m absolutely shameless XD
Though I did a large painting of a Dragonair, she’s my baby.
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(7) Do you feel that the Pokemon franchise is well represented on the Irish convention scene? 
In terms of conventions and their advertising, I usually hear more from other types of convention events before hearing about Pokemon ones i.e cosplay masquerades, voice actor panels, cosplay skits.
The most I’ve seen from Pokemon in conventions is either someone happens to be wearing a cosplay, or the merchandise and artwork is for sale, or there are Pokemon themed fairground games.
Though there was one an Eeveelution themed cocktail demo that I sadly missed xD So I would say to answer the question, the presence is there, but not in one big chunk of an event.
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(8) What is your favouritest Pokemon game/manga/show/movie etc of all time and would you like a remake/reboot/reshowing?
I think I’d say the original Pokemon tv show episodes were my favourite (I was so passionate about them when I was younger,morning cartoons before school were a lifestyle back then)
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Thank you so much Cat, that was illuminating!
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For more information on Cat’s kawaii creations: https://www.facebook.com/Cats-Corner-of-Illustration-238469029507866/?ref=bookmarks —> Please politely stalk her on this Facebook page here and also: https://www.instagram.com/catscorner13/ and https://www.deviantart.com/augustsilk
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All artwork here Cat Dobson originals and published with her express permission for use in this interview.
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There we have it nerdlings! Keep watching the skeys, I mean skies!

For more information on Straight Outta Kanto, feel free to follow our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/StraightOuttaKanto91/ or join our group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1623889321229114/

Thanks for reading! 🙂

 

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Straight Outta Kanto Interviews: Competitive Gamer & Nerd Content Creator Mike Culligan.

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Hello PokeFans! Welcome to “Straight Outta Kanto” – your brand new number one blog for nostalgia, nonsense, nerd culture and more!

Today’s interview segment of our blog features a long time friend of Straight Outta Kanto and one the single most hardcore Pokemon fans I’ve ever come across in my entire life. Nerdlings and gentlenerds, may I present to you, poke-addict and Cartoon Karma Youtuber: Mike Culligan.

Straight Outta Kanto first met Mike three years at PokeCon 2015. Ah, 2015. This was a golden era of conventions, sadly an era that seems to have passed… But we will not wallow in convention-based-wallowing, we shall proceed with the interview!

Buckle up nerdies, it’s about to get… in-depth!

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Greetings, Mike! Tell our good readers briefly about who you are and how you came up with your moderately successful but growing Youtube channel Cartoon Karma:

A: The name’s Mike, Mike Culligan. Just your average (read: very NOT-average) 23-year-old Irish animation lover who also digs Nintendo gaming, but especially Pokemon. 

During early 2015, arguably one of the best periods of my life, I was quite fond of a series on YouTube called PokeSins, which began as a CinemaSins parody on the early Pokemon anime but evolved into its own thing. I got to thinking about giving YouTubing a goal, as I had learned basic video editing skills in that year from college.

That summer I tested the waters by making a Jimmy Neutron music video, to get used both to the software and the choices to make when syncing video to audio. It was fun, and that video is still my most-watched one I’ve ever made, though you won’t find it on my main channel.

Finally, in September 2015 I launched my first CartoonSins video, on Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius. I fully acknowledged it was inspired by CinemaSins but more by PokeSins, and though I only got peanuts in views those first few months, the following videos on the first Spongebob movie, Kung Fu Panda and the first Wallace and Gromit short were fun.

In January 2016 when CinemaSins published a video on Kung Fu Panda, my video on it received a fair bit of traffic for a few days, but also its fair share of criticism. I realised that sticking to the current format would not pay off in the long run, and by May I had renamed the channel to Cartoon Karma, as it sounds more fair and positive rather then the cynical nature of the word “Sins”. It worked – I can count the number of times viewers have commented and compared it to CinemaSins since then on one hand. While the video format hadn’t changed, the style and tone has, veering away from knee-jerk reaction points and jokes and more towards legitimate analysis and thoughtful points. And though the channel’s still tiny, I am proud of it.

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Q: Tell me briefly about when and how you first discovered the Pokemon scene in Ireland and how and when you got into competitive gaming:

A: Back in Gen IV, I became kind of familiar with the basic of competitive battling in terms of stats, Effort Values, a balanced team and all that. I had a loose ad-hoc team that I used to play online randomly against other players on Pokemon Battle Revolution for a while, and while I lost more then I won, it was fun. My biggest memory from that was the stall Registeel with Iron Defence, Amnesia, Rest and Toxic that I used, though.

Fast forward through Gen V, which I was into less, and to Gen VI late 2014. I had started watching actual competitive play, capped by the now-legendary Pachirisu by Se Jun Park at the 2014 World Championships (seriously, players, look that finals matchs up on YouTube, it’s poetry in motion).

In March 2015 I heard about a PokeCon, which piqued my interest. I’d never been to a convention or really any Pokemon gathering. When I read it would have a VGC-format Pokemon tournament, I was sold enough to actually make a team in time and give it a whirl. PokeCon was great, and it’s a pity NCI lost the funds to run it again. I did well enough for my first tournament, 3 wins 2 losses. In general that year was a great one for me, I tried so many fresh things, and expanding my Pokemon love was one of them.

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Q: Tell me briefly when you decided to try for international competitions:

A: After PokeCon in April 2015 I went to Anime Dublin the following weekend because I heard there would be another friendly VGC tournament there. Somehow, I actually won it! As I recall you also gave it a whirl dear, but found it wasn’t wholly to your liking (feel free to omit that last sentence). [SOK: I DID find it to my liking, I just got my ass thrashed by a kid several years my junior…! #TooGenWun4DisWuurld] 

Granted, it was a friendly tournament at a small convention, but still! There was a Premier Challenge next month, which are the lowest-level events that give Championship Points to qualify for Worlds, and what motivate players to play at all. I passed on that one because of it being in the middle of exams. Of first year. Make of that what you will.

Anyway, that Summer I bred a lot more Pokemon so I would have a choice in my team roster and not be restricted to my original six, awesome as they were. I started attending Premier Challenges as they happened monthly after Summer, getting a real kick even though it took several before I was making points from there.

I was also getting back into the Trading Card Game by attending a weekly Pokemon League meetup in Dublin City, and making great friends there, some of the best I know. That November there was a Regional Tournament in London, that was for both the card game and the video game (though this is the norm now, Regionals that year were still not officially run by the Pokemon Company, and there were far more TCG regionals every year then VGC ones, so this was a rare event). My and my League friends got to talking, and we decided to give a bigger tournament a whirl.

Though I’d be playing the video game and then the card game, that didn’t matter. We went and had a blast despite me doing only okay both there and at the next two. And from there, through playing the video game that season, the card game in the 16-17 season and taking the year out in 17-18 due to 4th year, I’ve kept up with it all. Stressful at times? Absolutely. But totally worth it as long as you do it at whatever level works for you.

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Q: What is your personal experience with the Irish Pokemon competitive scene? Do you feel it’s as represented as the scenes in other countries? Obviously Ireland isn’t as big as Japan or America etc but still, do you think we’re small but hardcore?

A: Dublin is really the only place big enough to have enough of an interest for anyone to run local tournaments that give points, either for the VGC or the TCG. Thus attendance is small enough for both that everyone knows everyone quite well, even just the relative casuals. It’s nice in a way, but it does mean there’s some disruption. In the three years since I started, but especially lately, there have been constant shufflings between who’s hosting the video game PCs, with quite a few months-long periods of there being none. The organisers have either had other commitments or lost interest, and new ones have to host three non-points tournaments at one a month before they can. It’s the population thing; we have to travel over Europe to get noticed at big tournaments, so for competitive players elsewhere we’re just like Wales, an offshoot of the UK, even with Brexit and all. Or any of the smaller-populated European countires, like Belgium or Denmark.

That said, the nice thing is that players can play competitive on a lower level even if they live remotely in Ireland, thanks to PTCGO for the card game and online play for the video game. For us they’re practice tools, but for many players that’s enough for them, and that’s great.

As a country, we got noticed a bit for sending a player to Worlds three times in a row, Kelly Mercier-White (though he’s actually a Canadian immigrant, a fact we don’t hesitate to mock him for when he slips up), but our sample size is still small enough that it doesn’t take much for us as a community to fly off the radar at points. The VGC’s up and down lately, the TCG’s getting bigger. But the nice thing about a small size like that is it gives plenty or room to regrow. We’re Irish and we stick by each other, you know? We’re here to stay! Despite difficulties, the close camaderie has made it all worth it. And that’s what Pokemon is all about – friendship. Just not as much as with magical cartoon equines is all.

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Q: What is your personal experience so far as a Youtuber: 

A: Honestly? It’s been mixed. My videos got more views on average when the channel was called CartoonSins, as that does at least instantly tell the viewer what the videos about about, while Cartoon Karma as a name requires a leap of faith. Echoing a hot channel like CinemaSins is a clickbait shortcut when the videos are on films they haven’t done, as most of those early ones were (8 of my 25 Karma videos are on films they’ve also done).

So while the viewers that do watch tend to stick around now, there is less of them. The channel’s still a hobby, which it would have to be, given how screwed up YouTube’s ad revenue has become lately in terms of being enough to live off of. Though I have 2,200 subscribers, that’s been accumulated slowly over 2 and a half years, actually being slower in the second then the first. Most of my views come from non-subscribers, which means less comments and retention that that 2,200 figure would suggest.

Now, I wouldn’t have kept at it if I didn’t really love it. But the above are examples of some struggles I’ve had. When other stuff is going on in my life, I get a mental block that makes it hard to focus on things like Cartoon Karma even when I have the time, which is why video output has slowed to a crawl every now and then. I tried to combat this by reviewing new films as they came out, hoping they would be appetizers between Karma videos, but it didn’t pan out.

Review videos are a dime a dozen to find, so they grab few views and have no longevity in their life once the film’s left the box office, as I still script and edit them professionally. Didn’t help that 2017 was a dire year for theatrical studio animation, so videos on such films as The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature, The Star and the Emoji Movie and so forth irritated me as much as the films irritated viewers. However, had I not done these video, I wouldn’t have seen My Little Pony: The Movie, and subsquently binged all of Friendship Is Magic between Haloween and Christmas. The subtitle is true, folks, those magical cartoon equines got me through 4th year, and I’m now a committed fan. Maybe not a Brony yet though.

Anyway, it’s neither easy nor successful for me, especially as hardly anyone I know in real life keeps up with the channel, but I’m keeping at it. My viewers do like my content. I just need to better streamline it even more then I have already.

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Q: What are your hopes for both your YouTube Channel and your competitive Pokemon playing for the rest of 2018 and onto 2019?

A: I got big Cartoon Karma plans, my friends. I’ve scaled back the review videos so I’m not obliged to see such pandering fare as Sherlock Gnomes or the currently-playing Duck Duck Goose, restricting review videos to films worth talking about, such as Isle of Dogs, which I’ll be seeing soon. With 4th year basically done bar exams, I’ll be getting back to main Karma videos. But more then that, I want to branch the channel out. People still think of it as “that guy who does CinemaSins AND CinemaWins in one for animation” and I want to try to change that. My plan is to try other video types, far removed from what’s come before. Just to test the waters at first. That’ll take me through Summer 2018. Beyond that will depend on how reception to them fares, but I’ll keep up main Karma videos while all this is happening, while trying to acclimatise viewers to me being more versatile and not locked down to one particular video type.

Oh, and I also plan to channel the channel logo and branding, including an animated (or at least partly-animated) channel mascot. The current logo doesn’t do a whole lot, I’ll admit, charming though it felt at the time.

As for competitive Pokemon, given I took this season out from competitive play, I won’t be attending any tournaments outside of Ireland for the remainder of this season, so none until late July. During 4th year, rather then play in the local tournaments, I became a registered League Organiser for our League, and took to running almost all the local TCG events. Partly this was because the League Organiser was missing out on playing in them himself, so I wanted to let him play in some of them. And with 4th year being in the way, I figured, why not do them all? So I have, and honestly? It feels great! There’s such a satisfaction to running these and facilitating people playing, you really feel like you’re giving back to the community. While I still play at the League meetups, I think I enjoy running the local TCG  tournaments rather then playing at them. So for the time being, I plan to keep to running them.

After not playing it for a while, I’m itching get back into the VGC format. I prefer it, and I think it suits my skills more, as my results for the year I did it were a lot better then the year I played the TCG. Though both have expanded a lot in playerbase in the last few years, the VGC is still the smaller by a significant margin, so being better at it, I feel I’ll fare better there. Since big tournaments wouldn’t be much value until next season, for now I want to go back to the next PC, as I haven’t been to one in ages. I’ll probably go for Regionals in other European countires again in the 2018/19 season, and more likely for the video game then the card game, but for now, I just plan to get settled back in, and re-acquainted with my old VGC chums, as well as the new ones that have joined since.

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Q: What is your favourite Pokemon memory?

A: I literally can’t pick, there’s so many, and no particular one rises notably above the others. Some highlights include PokeCon, a few particular tournament results, the community in general, particular Pokemon and so forth. But really, it’s all of it together that makes it so great. Greater then the sum of its parts and all that.

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Q: What is your most prized Pokemon related possession?

A: Does a collection of nearly two decades of memories count as a possession? [SOK: Yes Mike, yes it does…!] It’s hard to pick one. There’s a few items signed by [Voice actor of Ash Ketchum in the original Pokemon TV show] Veronica Taylor, but to be honest I rarely go around chasing down that sort of stuff.

All that said, I love these two, they have a place of pride of my desk, and not just because they’re two of my favourite Pokemon:

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I’m quite proud of my complete save in my Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Red Rescue Team game. Complete as in Living Pokedex, as in I have one of all 386 Pokemon spcies at the time, plus all Unown forms (so 413 in total). I’m very fond of the early Mystery Dungeon games, but that one was difficult in the post-game for a young kid, especially to get all the Pokemon. Took me over 500 hours and a little over a decade, but I finally managed got the last few last year!

In comparison, Explorers of Time took me a little under half the play time to get all 524 Pokemon in it (491 at the time, plus 27 extra Unown forms, 2 extra forms for Burmy and Wormadam each, and 1 extra for Shellos and Gastrodon).

Very few people would have legitimately bothered to complete a Living Dex for the first Mystery Dungeon, so I stand by that.

And if we’re counting possessions [Or Snowmon…!] no longer with us, there’s also this life-sized cool (literaly!) cutie from back at the start of March. Irish readers will know to what I’m referring.

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I also designed 14 custom Pokemon cards last summer. I mean thought hard about balanced concepts that fit the game and worked on them over time before finally drafting them up. Just tossing that out there.

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Q: Do you feel that the Pokemon franchise is well represented on the Irish convention scene?

A: Used to be! That first PokeCon I attended was a blast, and I was on enough of a convention kick that year that even after Anime Dublin I attended ArcadeCon that summer as well as Eirtakon, Ireland’s biggest anime and manga convention, which had quite a few neat Pokemon tournaments and events. 2015 really was the bomb, there was a real sense of growth then.

Alas, it’s petered out since then. PokeCon failed to get funds in the college that runs it the following year and has yet to return, Eirtakon’s last year was in 2016, and a fair few other conventions that could conceivably have notable Pokemon things have scaled back or closed up shop too. There’s still enough conventions around, but you’re not going to get much Pokemon-related at a offically-run one like Dublin Comic-Con, great as it is.

So right now, while you’ll get plenty of Pokemon-related merchandice and fans at conventions and even the odd Pokemon event, it’s not very well represented lately at all. We really need a PokeCon to come back, if not with NCI then somewhere else.

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Q: What is your favouritest Pokemon game/manga/show/movie etc of all time and would you like a remake/reboot/reshowing?

A: I haven’t read enough of the manga but I’m quite fond of the Ruby/Sapphire chapter, it’s quite gritty and appealing for it, and Team Magma came alive even more then they already had in other media. The more adult teenage-aiming manga is more niche then almost everything else this child-friendly franchise puts out, and that’s really great.

Favorite movie would be Lucario and the Mystery of Mew, it’s the best structured, avoiding many repeating plot points in many other films. Plus, the Regis appear. Got to love those Regis, the most alien Pokemon before the Ultra Beasts came along.

Favourite show – either the Kanto era due to nostalgia or Diamond/Pearl due to some really solid storylines and probably the most strategic and planned out battling the series has ever seen. I’ve heard XY does that well too but I only started re-watching towards the end of that, so some of it’s lost on me.

I literally can’t pick a favorite game. Crystal was my first, but it overlapped with Ruby & Sapphire enough that no one game influenced me enough or is a clear favorite.

Diamond did a lot for how I approach Pokemon nowadays even if it hasn’t aged well, and so if the Gen IV remakes come to pass, I’ll greet them with opens arms. From fixing the available Pokemon imbalance, to the slow speed, incorporating the no-more-HMs-ride-feature of Gen VII and polishing the script for Galactic, there’s potential for a real winner here, if Game Freak don’t rush to deliver it for a Holiday season the way they have from XY onwards.

So there we have it: the Pokemon world according to Mike Culligan! Thank you to Mike for taking the time to chat with us all today! If you would, and I recommend you do, like to check out Mike’s Youtube channel “Cartoon Karma” – find him here: https://www.facebook.com/cartoonkarma/

Keep watching the skeys, I mean skies!

For more information on Straight Outta Kanto, feel free to follow our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/StraightOuttaKanto91/ or join our group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1623889321229114/

pika

Thanks for reading! 🙂

Straight Outta Kanto Interviews: Shurikon Ireland Convention [2018]

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Hello PokeFans! Welcome to “Straight Outta Kanto” – your brand new number one blog for nostalgia, nonsense, nerd culture and more!
This is exciting news for a wee little blog such as myself. Today I have the absolute pleasure of sharing an interview with one of the newest, and in my opinion one of the most promising, anime/manga/gaming/nerd culture conventions in Ireland, Shurikon.
I first met the pre-Shurikon crowd as a mature-student at DIT back in 2015/16. Sick of my office job and the whole full-time adult-ing thing *yuck* I decided to return to college part-time and relive my lost youth with weekly anime screenings and free pizza from the DIT Japanimation Society.
Well, the DIT Japanimation crowd have gone above and beyond just anime screenings and free student pizza, they now run the award winning and people’s favourite convention Shurikon, obviously.
In a country where big anime cons are on the decline, Straight Outta Kanto is hoping that Shurikon can last the distance – as an attendee in 2017 for the first con and then as an event volunteer in 2018 for the Pokemon tournament I can certainly say the future looks promising!
Promising, especially, as Shurikon are the first convention either ever or in a very long time in Ireland to hold a full on 8 person Gym Leader Pokemon challenge (I was the Dragon Gym Leader!!!)  with the top five winners being crowned Champion – and resultant Elite 4… Let the interview beginulate!
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 (1) Tell me briefly about who you are and how you’re connected to Shurikon:
Gareth Staunton here from Shurikon and I was the public relations officer for 2018.
My connection to Shurikon was being a part of the group that came together from the DIT Gamesoc and Japanimation societies to organize the convention.
For that year I managed the finances as treasurer and this past year as public relations officer.
(2) Tell me briefly about when and how Shurikon was born:
Shurikon’s conception began during the summer of 2016 when members of DIT Gamesoc and Japanimation came together to plan a new convention.
The idea came about from Gascon which is a convention we used to run a few years ago, but we wanted to have our own spin with cosplay and gaming so Shurikon was born.
(3) Tell me briefly who decided to run a Shurikon Pokemon League and how did that come about?
Thanks to our imaginative member Ciaran O’Flaherty, he thought during a brainstorming session on a break that it would be pretty fun to try organize a Pokemon League since we all enjoy the games so much.
Discussing between himself and the committee yielded the rough plan but then we couldn’t decide who the elite four would be when a light bulb struck, each years winners fight it out for the positions and that was enough to get the go ahead!
(4) What did think/how did you feel the first ever Shurikon Pokemon League went for you this year?
Honestly, it could have gone better. [Nonsense!!! As the Dragon Type Gym Leader and victorious Champion from the VGC Tournament I beg to differ – but appreciate your honesty…! – SOK]
Our hopes were for at least 20+ participants but we encountered a problem none of us expected, attendees looking to participate who never brought their own system.
Due to oversight in not emphasizing that you needed to bring your own DS and relevant gamecard, we had a number of attendees without either that still wanted to play.
Handily the solution for next year is to advertise that bringing these are a requirement for participating and hopefully that should fix it all.
(5) What are your hopes for both 2019’s Pokemon League and the convention in general?
The general consensus for the con overall is to run the event for two days so that we can run all the events coming up in the event roster.
This will also make the event worthwhile for anyone travelling a large distance to the con instead of being a brief trip.
For the leauge, we plan to have a DS charging station available, a fully fledged roster of gym leaders and our winning elite four from 2018 to face off any challengers through the day. [I’m the Elite 4 Champion – feckin’ come at meh, bros…! – SOK]
We hope better advertising will lead to an increase in participation creating a tense tournament at the end for the reigning seats!
(6) A pretty little birdie told me you guys have just won the best college run event award? Congratulations and can you tell me more about that? How did this come about?
Thank you! Yes we won Best Event in the Large College catagory at the BICS awards (Board of Irish College Societies) against some tough competition including our fellow cons Kaizoku con and Akumakon. [Wow, that’s some tough competition! – SOK]
How it works is we first make an application to our own colleges society awards, if we win that we then get to compete at BICS at the national level.
For these we have to make a new more in depth application and portfolio for judges to mark, this is sometimes followed by an interview at the awards depending on your category.
(7) Are you a Pokemon fan yourself and if so, how and when did you get into it?
Been playing Pokemon since Christmas of 1999 starting with Pokemon Yellow so definitely always been a fan!
I started playing it on my uncle’s Gameboy Colour and loved it so much that I harassed the whole family into visiting him on a weekly basis, lo and behold I woke up the next Christmas with one of my own. [Well played, Gareth, well played…! – SOK]
(8) What is your favourite Pokemon memory?
Probably my first Nuzlock of all things, for those that don’t know a Nuzlock is a specific set of personal challenges you impose on yourself ie no reviving downed Pokemon, only catching one per area etc.
Just starting another game of Pokemon Emerald, I decided to pick Mudkip (the starter I never chose) and named him Rick, after many close battles where his very life was on the line I grew attached to him like I had with every team when I first started playing.
That play through was the most rewarding and heartbreaking game I have played even to this day.
(9) What is your favourite non-Shurikon convention in Ireland?
Probably Kaizoku con, Eritakon was my first but since I was only there for its last two events Cork has been where I have truly gotten the chance to love the con scene.
Their mix of amazing panellists, casual gaming, rpgs of passion and just all round as an event are an unbelievable bunch, the work they do is amazing and they somehow fit in time to raise a ton of money for charity too!
(10) What’s your most embarrassing convention memory/funny convention story?
Like many stories it began in the bar, drinking pints we ordered at Kaizoku con while adding our own “water” to the mix because of course you should always drink responsibly!
After this our intrepid adventure of the con began and ended the moment we left the bar because in that circular plaza just outside we found our perfect spot to play some ninja.
Our 20 person game exploded into too many for any one of us to count, with people running to jump into the game leading to more waving, dodging, falling and slapping in a mess of choreography only “watered” people can achieve.
After ruining myself (and the family jewels) with a solid skull to the groin following a disasterous attempt to knock out an opponent, we tripped off to the J. Micheal Tatum panel (aka that sexy voice known as Black Butler’s Sebastian). [He’s one helluva voice actor… – SOK]
With the man being the legend that he is [HE IS!!!] and following a slew of confessions and dares, my colleagues participated in a fully clothed “Eiffel Tower” with the voice actor on stage, a sight that had me in tears from laughter all thanks to it being my friends birthday.
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…Oh lord, that actually sounds hilarious… that mental image will stay with me a loooong time!
So, thank you so much to Gareth and the Shurikon crew for participating in this interview. For information on next year’s amazing Shurikon and Pokemon League, stalk them on the auld BookFace: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100013890649788 or https://www.facebook.com/Shurikonireland/
For more information on Straight Outta Kanto, feel free to follow our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/StraightOuttaKanto91/ or join our group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1623889321229114/
Thank you for reading, please feel free to share this around, spread the nerd and the love, and keep watching the skeeys, I mean, skies!!! xxx
pika

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Straight Outta Kanto Interviews: PokeFan and FanArtist Niall Fox

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Hello PokeFans! Welcome to “Straight Outta Kanto” – your brand new number one blog for nostalgia, nonsense, nerd culture and more!

As an advocate of all things Pokemon and all things Irish, Straight Outta Kanto is going to kick start our brand new interview segment of the blog with a short piece about Dublin Pokemon fan and “Foxy Bros” artist, Niall Fox.

Straight Outta Kanto first met Niall in a professional capacity in an artist alley back in 2015 at a local Dublin anime convention. He’s a sound lad, a devoted Pokemon fan and a nifty little artist! Here’s what Niall has to say – enjoy!

(1) Tell me briefly about who you are and what Foxy Bros do:
Hello. My name is Niall Fox. I am 28 years old from Dublin in Ireland. I run my own business which is called Foxy Bros. We buy and sell all sorts of geek culture related products such as DVDs, games, anime/manga related merchandise, comic books and pixel artwork.
(2) Tell me briefly about when and how Foxy Bros was born:
Foxy Bros came about after doing a few conventions of just selling a few bits from my collection at the buy & sell table. I thought I could try and make a little bit of money from it.
(3) What’s your favourite piece ever that you’ve made?
My favourite piece is a Thanos (Marvel Character!) portrait which I have on a shiny canvas. It was one of my first original art pieces I created.
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(4) Is there any time you’ve ever secretly ballsed up an art piece but someone bought it and loved it any way?
I’ve messed up on a couple but nothing major except for a small Batgirl piece I fused a bit too much.
(5) How long have you been doing bead art and how did you get into it?
I’ve been doing the pixel artwork for the last 3 years. I got into it by chance with a starter set from Smyths Toys.
(6) How are you finding con/market attendees response to your artwork? Does it stand out? Is it unique? What makes Foxy Bros different?
People seem to enjoy my work. I find it gets a different reaction depending on where in the country I am. I like to go for bits of everything movies, TV, gaming, anime. But they are big and detailed. Surprisingly there are only three or four of us that do them [Pixel Art] and we all do different things with them.
(7) You’re a Pokemon fan yourself. how and when did you get into it?
I got into pokemon when it first arrived in Ireland. Collected loads of cards, toys, games. Still have my original fat pikachu plush toy. [So do we Niall, so do we…!]
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(8) What is your favourite Pokemon memory?
Favourite memory is going to see the first movie in cinemas. The little pikachu short film came on and I thought “that’s it… What a rip”.
“What a rip.” – That’s hilarious! Thanks for your time Niall, if anyone would like to find out more about Foxy Bros they can find them on: 

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If you or anyone else you know would like to be interviewed by Straight Outta Kanto, please get in touch through our official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/StraightOuttaKanto91/

You can also stay in touch with strange memes and all the latest news on our group “Pokemon Fanclub Ireland” – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1623889321229114/ – we’d love to hear from you!

Thanks for reading, and until next time: keep watching the skeeys, I mean, skies!

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