When Osamu Tezuka created the seminal anime series Astro Boy in 1963, little he did know that his cost-cutting methods would become a hallmark of the genre. While the surreal attractions of repeating backgrounds, still shots, and frozen characters with crudely animated mouths are well known to anyone who has zonked out on Pokémon, anime's reach now extends far beyond a mere Saturday morning pick-me-up, as this week's Anime Overdose proves. Now in its second year, the convention brings together the best of anime culture from film, print, TV, and music. Highlights include the English-language debut of director Takashi Nakamura's feature film A Tree of Palme and two shows by rockers Psycho le Cému, a Japanese band that launches those with bizarre-cultural-export cravings into the stratosphere.
The slate of industry voice actors is also a major draw: Rob Paulsen (Pinky of Pinky and the Brain), Tara Strong (Rikku of Final Fantasy X and X-2), and Alex Borstein (Lois Griffin of Fox's Family Guy, which isn't exactly anime, but there it is). Other guests include comic book writers Marv Wolfman (Blade, The New Teen Titans) and PMBQ (the artist behind the compellingly cute online comic Tea Club), as well as anime guru Gilles Poitras (author of the noted primer Anime Essentials). Attendees are encouraged to wear costumes and enter a masquerade contest, a 24-hour karaoke contest, and "Iron Cosplay," an anime character dress-up challenge inspired by Iron Chef. The fun starts at 2 p.m. Friday at the Holiday Inn Golden Gateway, 1500 Van Ness (at Pine), S.F. Admission is $20-25 per day, or $35-45 for the weekend; visit www.animeod.com.
-- Michael Leaverton
From Ad Space to Art
"You're too poor/old/ugly," billboards usually sneer. "Buy this harmful product, and it'll make you rich/young/pretty." That's the way it used to be with the street-level panel at Bryant and 24th streets. But the artists of the gallery to which the billboard was affixed covered up the cigarette and booze advertisements with original art so many times that the space eventually became theirs. The Digital Mural Project has been in charge of the huge canvas for the last five years, and "Su Arte Here" is a retrospective of the images by Chicano artists that have enlivened the corner. The exhibit continues through March 26 at Galería de la Raza, 2857 24th St. (at Bryant), S.F. Admission is free; call 826-8009 or visit www.galeriadelaraza.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Lust That Lasts
Lesbian sex demystified
Hetero couples have no corner on durable passion -- I don't know of a single husband and wife with a sex life as hot as the one they enjoyed when dating -- but the drop-off in sexual activity among gay female pairs is so notorious that it's been branded with its own cliché: lesbian bed death. The expanded second edition of author Felice Newman's The Whole Lesbian Sex Book aims to wipe out Sapphic torpor with a set of guidelines for such ticklish tasks as locating and wielding helpful sex toys and experimenting with pro-level erotic techniques like bondage and fisting. One chapter even outlines several types of exotic orgasms (G-spot, multiples, ejaculatory) and explains how they can be had. Learn a few new tricks as Newman reads at 7:30 p.m. at Books Inc., 2275 Market (at 16th Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 864-6777 or visit www.booksinc.net.
-- Joyce Slaton
Designer's future perfect
Who doesn't secretly want to live on the set of Barbarella or 2001: A Space Odyssey? Not too many folks spend their lives trying to realize this fantasy. Of those, Karim Rashid is the most successful. He's the molded-translucent-plastic-mad designer behind the popular minimalist lamps, wastebaskets, and even dish soap containers found at low-end department stores like Target.
Rashid designs other, pricier objects as well. Spherical white vinyl armchairs perched on skinny chrome stilts, abstract wireless lamps, and something that looks like a phosphorescent cross between a cough drop and a beanbag chair (the "Globject") adorn his Web site. Rashid speaks about design at 6:30 p.m. in SFMOMA's Phyllis Wattis Theater, 151 Third St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is $10-15; call 357-4000 or visit www.sfmoma.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
WED & SAT-SUN 3/2 & 3/5-6
"I'm not a history buff," says painter Richard Perri in press materials for his current exhibit. "I'm a part of history." He's joking, but the same can be said for his subjects -- loving portraits of waterfront joints like Red's Java House -- and for his exhibition space. "The San Francisco World of Richard Perri: Faces, Places, and Things" hangs inside the Old Mint building, itself one of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's "Most Endangered" spots. History begins at 5 p.m. on Wednesday (and at 10 a.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday) at the Old Mint, 88 Fifth St. (at Mission), S.F. Admission is free; call 775-1111 or visit www.sfhistory.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser