Archive for the ‘Otakon’ Category

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Otakon 2014: Artist Alley

August 27, 2014

narutaki_icon_4040 I was pleased to see the variety returning to Otakon’s Artist Alley this year in terms of style, series displayed, and even the wares themselves. The up and coming items seem to be zipper pouches (which started showing up a couple of years ago but which now have exploded), lanyards, and, surprisingly, scarves. Despite these new crafts, I kept to my usual collections if only to stop myself from going into a frenzy of buying. How long I will hold out, especially with regards to lanyards, will remain to be seen.

As with the AnimeNEXT alley this year, there didn’t seem to be one or two titles that took over every booth. Certainly, Attack on Titan was quite popular, but with no new anime recently it seems to have kept it from overtaking everything else, at least in regard to what artists were making fan creations of. I was pleased to see a lot of the recent sports titles: Haikyu!!, Yowamushi Pedal, and Free! being represented, too.

It is a lot of fun for me to go to an artist alley with a new series to collect things from, for Otakon this year that was JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. There was no way I was passing up a Joseph Joestar button proclaiming “Holy Shit!” and the Joseph and Caesar postcard was from the same talented artist Doro. The Joseph and Caesar button is by Tayla. I loved the stylization in both of these, it is clear who the characters are but they still bright and fun on their own.

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Otakon 2014: Guests

August 26, 2014

hisui_icon_4040 It is time to talk about naming Japanese Guest panels again. Otakon 2014 was a clear lesson in how to name Japanese guest panels. If you just look at the attendance for each panel it shows you everything you need to know. There were a bunch of Japanese guest panels that were filled to the brim and a bunch that were only half filled. Yusuke Kozaki and anything else to do with Under the Dog were rooms where it was hard to find a seat. Masao Maruyama and Hidenori Matsubara on the other hand did not have the same crowds. It is easy to assume that maybe it is because Yusuke Kozaki is from the video game industry that people might be more interested in him but I’m not sure that is the case. When Kate asked people who were selling Fire Emblem Awakening fan art in artist alley if they were excited to see Yusuke Kozaki most of them did not know who he was or more importantly that he was the character designer for the game. So if artist did not know that then J. Random Otaku is probably not going to know either. Everyone, except for  the most hardcore fans who look into such things, have no idea who Yusuke Kozaki is.

He drew a crowd was because he was in a panel called Drawing with Kozaki. It says that Yusuke Kozaki is an artist and that he is going to be doing a live drawing. People are sold. If it was called Kozaki draws Fire Emblem Awakening it might have been even able to fill one of the biggest panels rooms and even have to turn people away. Attendees did not really know what Under the Dog was but they saw pictures of it on banners enough to know it was an anime they were unaware of with girls and guns. And they showed up to see what that was about. People know show names but not creator names. People like activities and not lectures.

I am sure you could have gotten more people to see Masao Maruyama and Hidenori Matsubara if you played up Terror in Resonance or Rebuild of Evangelion for each artist respectively. I look these things up because I have a blog and do con reports that last three weeks. That is not the average con attendee. It is easy to assume that people don’t attend these panels because they don’t care about the guests. I think the truth of the matter is they would be more interested. You just have to sell them correctly.

I am curious to see how many Japanese guests panels will do this in the future and even more importantly much it will change things.

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Otakon 2014: 15-minutes with Sunao Katabuchi

August 25, 2014

The name of Sunao Katabuchi has found a place in people’s minds for two very different anime: the high octane action series Black Lagoon and his gentle and timeless film Mai Mai Miracle. But Mr. Katabuchi is a veteran to the anime world, having started his career doing a few stories for Sherlock Hound.

Building on his strength of portraying the wonder of everyday life in Mai Mai Miracle is his next directorial work, In This Corner of the World based on the manga by Fumiyo Kouno. The story takes place takes place in pre-World War II Hiroshima and follows the new experiences of a young newlywed woman.

At Otakon, Mr. Katabuchi spoke a lot about the project which is being produced by Masao Maruyama of studio MAPPA with animation direction by Hidenori Matsubara, both of whom were in attendance.  A special exhibit of production artwork was also shown over the weekend which revealed how much care they are taking to get the historical details right.

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Otakon 2014: Concerts

August 22, 2014

hisui_icon_4040 I’m sure the question everyone in charge of the Otakon musical selection had this year was “How do you follow-up Yoko Kanno and T.M.Revolution with a side of Chiaki Ishikawa and Home Made Kazoku?” The real answer is that you can’t. What you do is march ahead without looking back and just provide a great experience. You provide a show that any other convention would kill for even if it is not as spectacular as last year. In that respect I think ALTIMA and Yoshiki were an amazing lineup. At most conventions outside of Anime Expo Yoshiki alone could have been your entire musical lineup and been something people talking about for years. So both acts in one weekend was quite impressive.

I myself saw both concerts which was quite a treat. As per the rules of music at the anime con the ALTIMA concert was a rollicking Friday performance that was filled with jumping around, screaming, and silly audience participation. Yoshiki’s Sunday piano recital was mostly far more classy and mellow but there was a little of that X Japan madness thrown in as a little treat as well. Very Yin and Yang to be honest but also very welcome.

I am curious. Do you know of anyone who wanted to get into the Yoshiki concert but could not get a ticket? It seemed like there were a decent number of extra tickets floating around but I wonder how many of those never ended up in the hands of someone who wanted them. This is not major criticism of how the tickets were given out. As far as I know everyone who wanted to go actually got to go. I just want to check that is actually how it was for the most part.

narutaki_icon_4040 Otakon has always been a convention that takes their musical acts very seriously, some years they are the main draw for many fans. This year had that same level of love.

This year Otakon moved the Friday concert back to the convention center instead of the Mariner Arena. Sunday’s location has remained the same, so this time both concert were held in the same hall. There is an itimacy to the space which I enjoy and it worked especially well for a performance like Yoshiki’s.

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