Duel of ‘Fate’: A trip to Anime Expo (part 1 of 2)

July 27th, 2010

Last July, a group of cosplayers, among them Oahu Anime Explorer president Kell Komatsubara, performed a skit in the Anime Expo Masquerade as members of the Hakaida Squad — an award-winning experience and one for which Komatsubara was kind enough to provide an account for Otaku Ohana readers. (You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.) Kell and the gang returned to Anime Expo earlier this month for a return engagement with new costumes and a fresh skit … and we were more than happy to host his account of what took place once more. –Jason Y.

Once again, I found myself joining up with Florencio Lim Jr.and Danielle DeWald at the Masquerade for Anime Expo. So how did I end up onstage again at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles? Flo and Danielle have always been “Fate/Stay Night” fans, and they asked me if I would consider doing the skit with them after the Hakaider Squad skit was finished. It took all of two seconds to decide, and once we were done with the Hakaider skit, we began making plans for 2010.

“Fate/Stay Night” was based on the visual novel game by Type-Moon. The story centers on the orphan and unwilling Magi, Emiya Shiro. When he was 10 years old, his parents were killed by a huge fire that had engulfed most of the city. Shiro is then adopted by Emiya Kiritsugu, who later tells Shiro he is a Magi Sorcerer and tells him about secret battles of the Magi and their search for the Holy Grail. The last Magi war was 10 years ago and the results of the battle are what caused the fire that had killed his parents. (For more on “Fate/Stay Night,” go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fate/stay_night.)

Danielle has always loved the character Saber — Shiro’s Servant, a summoned spiritual familiar — and Flo asked me if I would do the character of Assassin, a solitary Servant. I had just started watching the series and had yet to get to the part where that character appeared. So I asked Flo, “Who was the character, and what was the character about?” He told me the character is a ronin samurai, based on the historical character of Sasaki Kojiro. After hearing that, I was like, “Me? Samurai? HELL YEAH!!!” So Flo and I started working on some ideas immediately, and I told Danielle that I had some ideas for the prop weapons as well.

In January, I started building the weapon props, and my first project was the sword for Saber. I decided that I wanted to make the sword have a sparkle effect when it collided with Assassin’s blade. So I took apart a disposable camera, removed the flash and fitted it inside the blade. I was almost done with the project when Flo told me that the AX Masquerade coordinator had notified him that we couldn’t use any “electronic flashes” in our props, but that LEDs were okay.

So it was back to the drawing board. I started looking into LEDs, and found a 28,000-millicandela LED. (A normal LED is about 600 to 800 mcd, so that would be BRIGHT!) I tried to find what it would take to create an array of five lights on each side of the blade and had it inserted it into the blade. I then designed a force trigger and put light tape on each side of the blade to make the blade light up.

I actually completed the blade for Assassin in 2009, so I started working on the blades for Archer and Rin. The props were all made from balsa wood, and I made sure that I painted the correct color schemes for each of the blades. After I finished painting, I laid some fish scales on each side of Archer’s blade so it would shine onstage.

Flo and I discussed having a sword duel between Saber and Archer for the skit. To make the fight scene look authentic, I contacted Bruce Chu and Kevin Won of the Ninja Monkey stunt team. I asked them to help design some good onstage fight choreography, but not something so complicated that I couldn’t master it with my current skill level.

When we first started, Bruce told me the balsa in Assassin’s blade would not hold up to the mass of Saber’s blade. Sure enough, the blade broke while practicing with Kevin. I had to make a new blade that could withstand the constant pounding that it would take. I made the second one out of mahogany, using fabrication skills that I had recently mastered, and built it in three days. Danielle returned to Hawaii in April, so Kevin and I demonstrated the fighting routine for her.

Flo then started recruiting the other team members, asking Kie Gruenke, known in the cosplay world as one of the “Neko Twins,” to play the part of fellow Master Rin Tohsaka. The next ones to be recruited were Cody and his girlfriend, Jaden, who took up the roles of Shinji and his Servant, Rider. I brought in my usual suspects, Ethan and Mari, to play Rin’s Servant, Archer, and Caster. Danielle brought in her friend Mark to play Soichiro, while Flo played a knight and I played Assassin. Finally, Flo found one of the 501st Legion Star Wars guys, Kevin N., to play the second knight.

While I made the swords, Danielle started working on the Saber costume. While she made a Saber outfit before, she didn’t like how it turned out, so she redid the costume from scratch. In mid-2009 I researched the designs for the Assassin, Archer and Caster costumes and had my cousin complete the three costumes. I had discussed with Flo about making the two knights’ armor and helmets, so I began building and forming the materials for those.

I started to assemble the audio track for the skit around April this year. Flo gave me the script and I got three of my friends to do the voice-overs. As for the fight choreography, we videotaped the sequences so everyone would know their key positions, what they would be doing and how it should look.

In the beginning of June, I started shipping everything to Los Angeles. This year, unlike last year, everything arrived unscathed. Everything looked really good at this point, but as you know, Murphy’s Law has a way of rearing its ugly head at the last minute.

To be continued …


4 Responses to “Duel of ‘Fate’: A trip to Anime Expo (part 1 of 2)”

  1. Tweets that mention Hawaii News - Staradvertiser.com -- Topsy.com:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jason S. Yadao, Angel G.. Angel G. said: RT @jsyadao: In Otaku Ohana today: Part 1 of a behind-the-scenes look at an Anime Expo Masquerade skit. http://bit.ly/bRIurE [...]

  2. Jon K.:

    I was there at the AX. The costumes were well done, and looked like it took a lot of work. That doesn’t show how good they looked on the videos on Youtube. But the skit itself was horrible. My friend was one of the actors (won’t say who), but he said he was confused as to what to do. There was no real direction, just basically fall down and stay there. The fight scene looked like no one really practiced. Even audience members around me were confused because it looked as if everyone on stage just did random awkward fighting.

    All in all, I give credit to the team. They put tons effort into the costumes, and it paid off. Just wish they put the same effort into the skit.

  3. Hakaider02:

    To Jon K:

    A lot of us pulled in our 120% for this skit, so it is disappointing to hear that you were confused. That was certainly not our intention. By the way, whoever this “friend” was, I wished he or she would have said something to us, instead of keeping it quiet while we practiced for hours, and then complaining after it was all over.

    The fight scene was also designed by a professional martial arts stunt man who watched the battle scene from “Fate Stay Night”, and it was planned a year in advance. It certainly wasn’t done randomly and we weren’t “winging it” onstage. (It also wouldn’t be safe to do a fight scene randomly like this onstage. ) We lost lots of sleep practicing for this skit, and I know Kell who played “Assassin” flew to LA 5 days ahead before AX started, just so he can rehearse with Danielle who played “Saber” with the fight scene. At one point in the practice, they had to finally stop, because Danielle’s arms were going numb. (What may look random to you onstage actually took months to prepare.)

  4. Hawaii News - Staradvertiser.com:

    [...] Place My Ad Top Stories Otaku Ohana « Duel of ‘Fate’: A trip to Anime Expo (part 1 of 2) [...]

Leave a Reply