In Memoriam – Laura Fontanilla / AnoHana’s Menma and Her Letters

Cosplayer Larry Bear as Menma from AnoHana

Cosplay by Larry Bear. Character: Meiko “Menma” Honma. Series: あの日見た花の名前を僕達はまだ知らない (We Still Don’t Know the Name of the Flower We Saw That Day.)

Cosplay and tributes work well together when the context of the show relates so closely to what you are paying tribute to. AnoHana for short, this show touches upon the life of a group of friends who lost one of their own early on in their childhood. Inner thoughts and emotional dissections ensue, and we have a rather satisfying ending. Inspired by a true story? Possibly. Laura was a good friend for many years. And though we lost touch for nearly six of them, we were able to reconnect for two more before her untimely passing. This is an open letter about my thoughts on her young legacy from my viewpoint. May she find peace and comfort in knowing that she was loved and will always be remembered.

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Hello Kitty Hungry Hunt @ Zip Sushi & Izakaya [10.31.14]

Zip Sushi & Izakaya. Little Tokyo, Los Angeles, CA. Hello Kitty Hungry Hunt.

Hello Kitty Hungry Hunt partnered up with several restaurants in and around downtown Los Angeles to bring exclusive, themed meals and limited edition pins from each establishment. Here is Zip Izakaya’s contribution to the Hunt! Photos after the break…

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CicLAvia | Heart of LA – Little Tokyo Vantage Point (2nd and Central); Cyclists Take Over Downtown

CicLAvia | Heart of LAI was wondering why there weren’t any cars passing by on the streets of Little Tokyo this morning.

Metro’s CicLAvia | Heart of LA event is happening today from 9am to 4pm. This photo was taken around 11 this morning. The path, which can be viewed here, takes cyclists, skaters, and rollerbladers east-west from Echo Park to East Los Angeles Civic Center, and north-south from Chinatown to the Theater District. Based on my personal experience from attending this event only a few years ago, several Los Angeles streets are closed off from automobile and public transit access for a few hours for people to enjoy historic areas of downtown and surrounding districts. It’s fun whether hot or not, and today’s 90-degree weather just means riders need to protect themselves from the sun and hydrate more. Also, there are a variety of interesting musical pieces being played from some cyclists’ stereo systems for all to hear, ranging from 80s funk (Let it Whip sound familiar?) to today’s most interesting dubstep. Just now, I heard a drumline and looked out my window to find that there was a small band of five drummers on a wooden platform being hauled across the street.

I didn’t attend today’s festivities despite living here in downtown, mostly because I reserved this day to take care of much needed errands. However, Metro is indeed having one more even later in the year that I might attend if I get myself a road bike by then. I’ve always wanted to attend one of these events in full gear (no pun intended). If not South LA, then there would be no doubt Metro would return CicLAvia to the heart of downtown once more while I still live here.

Motivation, Levitation, Persistence, Expectation


You know that saying where you need to fall so many times before you can be successful? What if you could just levitate in the air after you get back up and never fall back down?

When I was in Vancouver back in August, I was fortunate to meet many new faces, make new friends, and have lots of fun. I was also inspired a lot. Take this photo for instance and it actually has an outwardly obvious point of inspiration; the other is something only those that were there with me would understand, which is what I’d like to reveal to you here in this post.

Outwardly, this photo is inspired by none other than Natsumi Hayashi of yowayowa camera woman diary. I’ve always wanted to try what Natsumi-san does with her photos, and I’m glad I was able to have some assistance this time around in doing so. The other point of inspiration is Linda from LindaDProductions (be sure to check out her YouTube channel as well) who was behind the camera to take this image. Thanks, Linda! I’m actually honored to have gotten to know her through the group of people I was with in a casual way. I can’t imagine how I would have reacted if I was a huge fan; speechless and stutter-y all the time, I’m sure.

Having either heard or met these individuals is something really cool and, for the most part, rare to me. They both have amazing talent, have outlets to share their creativity and passion, and do it consistently and persistently. I feel like I’ve been there, but have fallen. Again and again. Recent changes to my lifestyle have helped me get back up and get some more hang time each time around. And now here I am, filled with inspiration to continue setting a new set of expectations for what I want to evolve my skill into next.

Thanks again, everyone. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to try and kiss the sky some more.

New Layout! Giant Robots! Big(ger) Photos!


Hot off the heels of my excitement for this summer anime season’s lineup is a brand new show featuring mecha, a ragtag team of civilian high school students showing their tactical superiority in dire situations that military personnel just can’t measure up to, and a brand new site layout for a blog that was begging to be redone since maybe two years ago. Why the change, you ask? Well, for starters, dynamic layouts (sites that change layouts depending on the device or browser window size viewed on) were just starting to gain functionality and popularity when I started this blog. Secondly, I’ve been wanting to get back into writing again, specifically about the summer 2014 anime season, and what better way to kick-start new content than to refresh the interface?

There are a handful of items that need to be scrubbed and re-arranged, like streamlining what’s in the the sidebar (which is still on the left side), choosing proper background photos for each page, and updating the size of photos in blog posts that link to my flickr profile. Truth be told, this interface is actually geared toward restaurants (hey, maybe I can post a price sheet PDF for my photography services!), but the WordPress demo impressed me with the ability to create static child/parent pages with unique, featured photo backgrounds that, once again, scale to the size of a browser window or mobile device screen resolution. The more customized child/parent page functionality is important for my content as this will allow me to partition my entire WordPress profile into a landing page that leads visitors to either my anime blog or my photography portfolio, which was the original intent of this site to begin with.

So, there is no doubt that this is a work-in-progress, but I think I’m going to have a lot of fun revamping everything. Like the high school characters in the promo poster for Aldnoah.Zero above, I can’t wait to get my hands and knees dirty to bring this site back to having consistent content! To the newcomers and even those that still visit my site, thanks for stopping by, sticking around, and checking out my posts! More photos, anime reviews, and random shenanigans to come!

Putting the Media in Pacific Media Expo: An Unofficial Vocaloid Concert

Bunny ears and an eager crowd awaiting the unofficial Vocaloid concert by Synthesized Reality Productions. Pacific Media Expo 2013. [j]

40 days of fundraising and almost $4,000 USD later, we have a Vocaloid concert! And no, this isn’t Crypton Future Media, SEGA, 5bp, MARZA ANIMATION PLANET INC., or any other entity or production studio typically associated with Vocaloid concerts that put this show together. With enough continued momentum, Synthesized Reality Productions could very well be the go-to production studio for local Vocaloid concerts until it gains traction with the likes of larger conventions such as Anime Expo. Anyone who is a Vocaloid fan who knew about and/or was fortunate to attend the 2011 Mikunopolis event in Los Angeles would probably agree that seeing more of Miku, Luka, Rin and Len onstage here in the United States is something we really need to see more often, especially for the efforts put forth at this year’s Pacific Media Expo. Read on for my quick impression of the show and some photos of the concert.

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“There is so much I want to do. I’m brimming with thoughts of things I want to create… I chase after every image that flies out. I catch them, battle them, and consume them after sampling each flavor. I name and return them to where they ought to be [over and over]. It requires so much time.

I want to open all these boxes, but a mortal life span is too short to do such a thing. A single lifetime limits how many boxes you can open.”

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A Melancholic Forty Days; Cake

8-31-13 JFD-6033

Prayers help to spread love and peace across the planes of life and death. After forty days of a passing of an individual, he or she is finally able to ascend from any pain and suffering felt up to and through his or her passing. So why the gathering only now? Well, for some, power in numbers always helps in these difficult times. Whether one is Catholic or religious to any degree, coping helps when you have the strength of those close to you to carry the burden of loss. On the 31st of August of this year, we celebrated the fortieth day of my sister Johannah’s passing with friends and family, through song and prayer, and through laughter and love.

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In Memoriam – Johannah Marie Rivera Rafanan

Johannah Marie Rivera Rafanan - In Memoriam, 1 of 16

Memorial services are never an easy event to cover as a photographer, especially if they are for someone within your own family. My sister Johannah fought her cancer bravely for three solid months. And yet it seemed to be over so quickly. She seemed so strong all through the end. These three days of services seemed so out of place that it didn’t feel right to be meeting relatives and family friends under such circumstances after so long in such a quick time frame. None of this made any sense.

This collection of photos are the only sixteen of the nearly four hundred I took across three days of services for my sister that I and, I’m sure, my family feel most comfortable with sharing to the world; images of a place seemingly frozen in time where loved ones do not want the passage of time to commence – a sort of limbo from the outside world where the most precious of memories of our own lost loved one linger around the halls of the chapel and the green lawns of the mortuary. And while most of them only show the backs of my relatives and our family friends, I can only hope that these photos do justice to show that my sister was well loved and nurtured, even beyond her life on this earth.

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