Tuesday, September 30, 2008


The producer asked me to join the project, and I thought it would give me excuses to draw girls with nice curves and nice bottoms. Did I say that their wardrobe resembles underwear…?

So recently admitted director and character designer, Kazuhiro Takamura—who helms the new Gonzo anime series, Strike Witches—in an interview we did together last month.
Natch. Check out the show's overt iconography, and you'll probably agree.

Shimada also designed the somewhat techno-curvy “Mecha Musume” toy series for toy manufacturer Konami, which have been dubbed anything from mecha-shojo by otaku in Japan, to “moe anthropomorphisms” on Wikipedia. The picture that accompanies this piece was snapped at a recent Tokyo toy show, where the Strike Witches figurines were showcased to rather enticing effect.

Think shapely female figures whose bodies have been integrated with bits and pieces of real-life airplanes, tanks, and other military hardware, most of it retro in nature, and harking back to World War 2. And that's just the start.

14-year-old Yoshika Miyafuji, whose late father designed the Striker Units, is a sergeant in the central outfit, the 501st. Her legs are modeled after the Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter plane. Then there’s fellow sergeant, Lynette Bishop, whose Striker Unit is based on the famous British Spitfire fighter, Minna-Dietlinde Wilcke, who has the German Messerschmitt Bf-109G Striker Unit, and Charlotte E. Yaeger—who bears the American touch with legs attributed to the P-51D Mustang.

By the way, if some of these character names are also familiar, that’s because they’re based on famous real-life ace pilots from WW2.

Takamura’s favorite character is Bishop, the surrogate English rose with the Spitfire legs. “Lynne’s a very kind-hearted girl who has large breasts,” the director espouses. “Who wouldn’t like a character like that?”

The rest of this interview will pop up in the next issue of Anime Insider magazine.


Bah; humbug.

I guess this is the point where we have to go full-throttle into origin stories and what-not, unless we want to be arty and wait till later, then insert the tale of yesteryear as an unexpected jump-cut mid-sentence?

Crap. I hate intros. I just finished a novel I've been writing on and off for around 18 years (I kid you not - I'm a slow hack), and it's now with the wonderfully patient people at Another Sky Press in Portland, Oregon, for final subediting, and the intro still hasn't been quite settled.
If 18 years is not enough, what d'you expect me to conjure up in 1.8 minutes?
The cover of the novel is finished, however, as is the title: Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat. The cover is by one of my fave illustrators, and one of the nicest guys on the planet, the exceptionally talented Scott Campbell.
It's also on Facebook, like a million other things these days... zzz...

Well, anyway, background-wise I guess I can lob some facts, figures, and nonsensical pretentious stuff your way, pretty much as cannon fodder to keep you on your toes—or at least (I pray) prevent you from falling asleep.
Blah, blah, blah.

Monikers are a good place to start, I guess.
My name is Andrez Bergen.
The name is a giveaway; nope, don't consider eastern European descent, or Polish, Kazakh, or whatever. Just think instead a childhood fixation on Zorro, especially the Guy Williams take on the character, the way he scrawled Z on naked walls with his fencing foil, and the slip from a "w" at the end of a kid's first name to a far more enigmatic (or so I thought) "z".

I'm an expat Australian, from Melbourne, who's been entrenched in Tokyo, Japan, for over 7 years now.

I work as an English teacher for $ (make that yen, but I can't seem to find the yen symbol on this darn-tooting keyboard), and I'm also a freelance journalist for a rash of different mags and newspapers here in Japan, back in Australia, in the U.S., and in the U.K.
I love film noir, movies of all kinds, the extended edges of kitsch and uncool, and silly novels.
I scribble about more experimental kinds of electronic music, dance music in general (that one pays), anime, travel, and other stuff, and usually I try to take the happy-snap images that go with the sorry tales. I love all the mags I write for, so check 'em out if you have time or inclination—they're listed in the links here.

I also run IF? Records, a label established in Melbourne in 1995 by me, Mateusz Sikora and Brian Huber. The label is currently run out of Tokyo, after relocating here in 2001. IF? was one of Melbourne's first independent local electronic music labels, as well as a prolific live gig and rave party organizer in that city in the '90s, and we like to wax nostalgic about those old days over a beer or three.
These days the label is still releasing a cross-section of electronic music styles, mostly by Aussies and Japanese mates, but also including stuff by long-term faves of mine like Si Begg, Dave Tarrida, Jammin' Unit, Khan, Jason Leach from Subhead, Tobias Schmidt, Captain Funk, Toshiyuki Yasuda, Steve Cobby from Fila Brazillia, etc, etc.
The label has a digital download site up on Addictech with some of these releases, and a vaguely up-to-date site on MySpace (http://www.myspace.com/if_records).

But we're doing a load of new releases in conjunction with DJ Hi-Shock in Sydney, one of that city's longest-lasting DJs, and (like Scott), a heckuva nice guy. He runs two netlabels—Elektrax and Hypnotic Room—and is doing some crazy stuff with us and Son Of Zev, Warp, Dale Baldwin, and Bitchshift. I have a single up there now, remixed by the inestimable Si Begg himself—We Call It Crack House.

Are you exhausted yet? Man, I am. Sheesh.

OK, what else?

Oh yeah, I make music myself, and have done so since '97, under a wad of aliases, like Little Nobody, DJ Fodder, Schlock Tactile, Curvaceous Crustacean, LN Elektronische Ensemble, Conversational Dentures, Slam-Dunk Ninja, LNEE minus 3, plus a few others that'll go unmentioned here (shh!). Best to check out the Little Nobody MySpace site (http://www.myspace.com/littlenobodymuzak) if you're at all interested.

I attempt to do hack, faux-arty videos as well, which you can blindly stumble across over on YouTube here: http://au.youtube.com/user/nezvanova666.

And, finally, I'm trying to find my wayward feet as a dad—I have a gorgeous daughter who's almost 3 years old, and she really is the centre of the known universe.
And that, as they say in cheap-shot flicks, is a wrap.
No more self-reverential rear-vision mirror crap. Here I wanna waffle on about other stuff—when and if I find the time.

Iffy bizness indeed. Hah.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Yep. I've been seduced by the Blog bug. Go figure.