Tag Archives: little tokyo

Castle Under Siege: An Attack on Titan Real Escape Game!

Back in the day, the most a manga could hope for was an anime adaption and maybe a movie. Nowadays, manga serves as the basis for all sorts of entertainment, and when my husband and I visited Los Angeles for his birthday a few days ago, we experienced Castle Under Seige: a collaboration between Real Escape Game and Attack on Titan.

For those unfamiliar with Real Escape Game, it’s a franchise that began in Japan and has since spread to other places including San Francisco, San Jose, and Los Angeles. It runs Escape Rooms and hosts events at special locations, but the premise behind all of its puzzle events is the same. You and your team members are “trapped” and have 60 minutes to search for clues and solve puzzles in order to escape.

Castle Under Seige, by the way, is not the first Attack on Titan themed Real Escape Game. In 2015, Real Escape hosted Escape from the Walled City at AT&T Park and a couple other stadiums in the United States. Sadly, my husband and I heard about it two months after the event (so disappointed!). Thus, when we chanced upon a Castle Under Seige flyer in Little Tokyo on our last day in Los Angeles, we couldn’t let the opportunity slip. Less than two hours later, we were at the Los Angeles Real Escape Room with five local college students.

The premise of Castle Under Seige is that participants (maximum of ten) are members of the Scouts/Survey Corps, who’ve been forced to take shelter from titans in an old castle. Eren (in titan form) and Mikasa are buying time (60 minutes to be exact) by fighting them, and Armin is giving clues to find various objects to help against the enemy.

The game does go out of its way to make it fun for Attack on Titan fans. If you have your own Attack on Titan cosplay, you are encouraged to wear it. For those without, the hosts provide green cloaks with the Wings of Freedom insignia to wear during the game. The game instructors/hosts are also in cosplay and in character. Funimation is one of the game collaborators, and I’m assuming Castle Under Seige used the anime’s English language voice actors for Mikasa and Armin (sorry, I prefer subtitles so I’m not familiar with the dub). Also, several inside jokes are infused into the puzzles and clues.

Participant uniforms!

While knowledge of Attack on Titan makes Castle Under Seige more enjoyable, it doesn’t actually give participants much of an edge. When it comes to solving the puzzles, experience with other Real Escape Games actually gives a greater advantage. So it’s entirely possible for a team with no knowledge of Attack on Titan to succeed, although they’ll probably think it’s weird that a gas cylinder is useful against man eating giants. (And according to our host, Castle Under Seige has had participants unfamiliar with the series. They provide those players with a single page synopsis of Attack on Titan.)

By the way, the success rate for Castle Under Seige is about 60%. For comparison, Real Escape Game’s Escape from the Mysterious Room is closer to 10%. So the Castle’s puzzles aren’t as intense as the Mysterious Room’s, but they’re enough to pose a fun challenge to fans looking for a new way to experience Attack on Titan.

So did we escape the titans? We did! Everyone in our team of seven was familiar with Attack on Titan, but only my husband and I had prior Real Escape Game experience (we played the Escape from the Mysterious Room in 2015). With everyone’s help, we achieved victory in 55 minutes. We weren’t anywhere close to Castle Under Seige’s current record (just over 30 minutes), but it was enough that we didn’t get eaten. And we got to pose with the props afterwards! It made my husband’s 44th birthday a memorable one.

So if you and your otaku friends are looking for a group activity and have $35 to spare, I would certainly recommend Castle Under Siege. Castle Under Siege is currently only available in Los Angeles Little Tokyo, but Real Escape also has a Zelda game and Final Fantasy XIV game touring various cities this summer. Supposedly, there’s also a Dragonball escape game at Anime Expo 2017, but the website is unresponsive so I can’t confirm that.

Anyway, check it out. And have fun escaping the titans!

Los Angeles celebrates Hello Kitty’s 40th Anniversary

Hello Kitty aficionados will be swarming upon Los Angeles this weekend. 2014 marks the 40th anniversary of Sanrio’s signature character, and they’re celebrating with the first official Hello Kitty Convention in LA’s Little Tokyo. My husband and I were hoping to attend Kitty Con, but sadly, that’s not going to happen. He has to travel to Asia for work, and even if his schedule suddenly changed, Kitty Con has sold out.

kitty giantsOur one consolation is that the exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum celebrating the event will be on view through April 26, 2015. Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty explores the evolution of Hello Kitty through a display of rare and unique pieces from Sanrio’s archives. We’re planning on being in LA in March, and you can bet that the Japanese American National Museum will be our first stop.

Hello Kitty has gone a long way in her forty years. The two of us are roughly the same age, and I remember when her products are only available in specialty stationery shops. Now she’s on jewelry, electronics, car accessories, home furnishings, food products–she’s even wrangled deals with Major League Baseball! One market that she has yet to take over is male clothing, but my husband holds out hope for a line of Hello Kitty menswear in the United States.

kitty patchBefore you scoff, check out these pictures. The United States is not the only place celebrating Kitty’s 40th. While my husband was in Hong Kong this summer, he stumbled across Giordano, a fashion retailer that was honoring Kitty’s anniversary with a special line of women’s and men’s clothing. Granted, the men’s selection was smaller than the women’s, but it was still there. As far as he’s concerned, it’s just a matter of time before American men are sporting garments featuring Japan’s most famous cat.

kitty tshirtOh wait… she’s not a cat.

An odd consequence of the Hello! exhibit is the shock Kitty fans got last August. When curator Christine Yano was preparing her written texts for the Japanese American National Museum’s exhibit, she described Hello Kitty as a cat, and “was corrected–very firmly.”

According to Sanrio: Hello Kitty is not a cat. She’s a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat. She’s never depicted on all fours. She walks and sits like a two-legged creature. She does have a pet cat of her own, however, and it’s called Charmmy Kitty.

Perhaps that was clear to the Japanese, but on our side of the Pacific, all sorts of minds were blown. It did answer one question for me and my husband. We had always wondered about Charmmy Kitty being Hello Kitty’s pet. After all, for a cat to own another cat sounds like a bizarre kind of indentured servitude. But if Hello Kitty is a little girl, then obviously the relationship is okay. Of course, it raises a lot of other questions that have made for some interesting conversations.

But whether she is cat or a mutated human child, her goods remain adorably appealing. Which means we’ll continue to buy them. Since the announcement of Hello Kitty’s official not-a-cat status, my husband has bought three additional Hello Kitty plushies to add to the collection that is starting to take over our bookshelf.

kitty shelf

Happy 40th, Kitty!