Hisui and Narutaki’s Saturday Schedule
AnimeNEXT has been the convention to fill the void for the New York area since the death of BAAF (and now we have NYAF). So I have always had a fondness for it, for a small convention it has done pretty good for itself. I remember when it was still in the hotel that now houses MangaNEXT. But this year it just wasn’t quite up to the task, where are you Japanese industry guests? And you American industry?
I have always liked that AnimeNEXT was the good small local con. It’s big enough to get decent Japanese guests and a good selection of activities but small enough to really interact with the guest if you so choose. From what I can tell AnimeNEXT is not fully responsible for the lack of industry presence this year. Apparently the Japanese guests backed out at the last minute and they could not schedule new ones in time. I’m curious who they had coming. The American industry seems to be doing poorly enough that they are only focusing on major cons everyone has to attend and local cons that don’t require too much travel. Since Media Blasters and Del Rey Manga are local they showed up but for everyone else it was too much of a journey in these leans times.
As with most conventions, this one started out with a line. With all the horror stories about 6 hour line waits for registration I was a bit apprehensive. The line was no longer than normal, less than 30 minutes to get our tickets. And at least the line was in the shade and actually the weather on Saturday was really perfect for the event. Weather is extra important for NEXT because the convention is split into two buildings. I have always found this unfortunate but they really have no alternative, the convention center isn’t growing.
The line moved pretty quickly. If we had pre-registered we would have been done in seconds. I can’t say that we have ever had a problem at AnimeNEXT. For some reason anime conventions have yet to be as efficient as sci-fi/comic conventions. But I have been been lucky so far in avoiding major hassles. Also since they gave out the forms you had to fill out while you were waiting in line, it made everything run more smoothly. I have never had a big problem with the convention being split into two buildings. I definitely see how it can break the flow. But from what I saw, the cosplayers loved it because the strip between the two buildings was an active area of people hanging out. Ideally you have a situation like Otakon where the cosplay section is off to the side and the events are together in one continuous area. As you said though there really is no great solution without changing the venue.
However, we did miss the first panel we wanted to attend which was Tokyo Bound. I am always planning for my imaginary trip to Japan. So instead we headed for the dealer’s room because my next panel wasn’t for a while yet. Not too much to say about it, it was fine, good even. I found the two things I was looking for (doujin and a Kyrios 1/100 scale Gundam model) so I was pleased with the selection. There was no line for it which is indeed good management.
I myself picked up some pretty sweet Gundam 00 figures of Sumeragi and Feldt for under 20 dollars a piece so I was very happy. I was looking at a nice Kaleido-Ruby figure but was a tad overpriced and out of my spending range anyway. I was sad when I heard the doujinshi dealers missed getting their big shipment so they was less selection than we could have hoped for. They still had a good selection but I’m curious what they could have had. I almost got a very nice Phoenix Wright art book but neither me or my roommate decided to get it. Ah well, there is always Otakon.
Anime Dating Game is one of those things we went to expecting it to be really bad. Cosplayers pretending to be contestants on the dating game? But it wasn’t, it wasn’t great either, but it actually had potential. The cosplayers just needed more rehearsal but the audience was eating it up. The only other thing is you have to familiar with all the characters or it isn’t as funny. I felt like the guy playing Ace for One Piece was the most memorable and well done. He had perfect timing with his “I have a smokin’ hot body” comment.
The problem is that they tried to improvise when no body there was an improv actor. Improvisational comedy is hard for professional actors let alone random untrained cosplayers. The way to do a skit like that is to write out a script and rehearse it several times before the con. I think that way you can get some real gems. Despite my critique, the audience really loved it. I think that the Anime Dating Game is merely an idea that if pulled off with more preparation could be so very good.
ParaPara Dance Workshop was one of the highlights. None of us have done it before and we thought what the heck? We have no real qualms about embarrassing ourselves. The girls running it were enthusiastic and encouraging, so bravo to them! Though for newbies they went a little fast on the steps. I only started to catch on to one song by the end. I would like to see the panel be longer so we could go over the steps more times or cut it down to two songs instead of three. It was a lot of fun, I will definitely do it at the next con I go to. A workout at an anime convention, who knew?
Ever since my mother watch Super Gals she always asks if I go to the ParaPara demonstration at cons; my mom is an odd woman. Overall, it was fun and the instructors seemed to be having as good at time as the audience. We were rather tired after the workshop and we only had to do half as much as the girls on stage. I’m not sure they could have lasted another hour. I think that you are right in they should have only taught the dances for two songs and slowed it down a little. That ParaPara Paradise song was rather infectious. I kept singing it to myself the whole day. On a related note, I think more cons should shell out for ParaPara Paradise machines they could be the next DDR.
Unfortunately, the Cutting Edge of J-music panel was canceled. Media Blasters, there isn’t much to say about it because they didn’t say much. Though I was glad to see some industry presence there. I know industry related stuff isn’t the biggest draw at cons so maybe it is just me feeling their absences but I was really disappointed. They don’t have to make announcement (we know they save them) but at least be there hyping stuff and giving out things. It is dark days!
The fact that Media Blasters ended their panel after a half an hour because they did not have much to say was a little bit frightening considering. I assume everyone is saving their big announcements for Anime Expo, San Diego Comic Con, and Otakon. I guess it is good that no one is over licensing themselves out of business, but it is a distinct sign that times are lean. I remember at previous AnimeNEXT conventions we would get one or two title announcements. Now we have almost no industry presence and no new news. With ADV’s current health I think it’s only going to get worse before it gets better.
We did make our way to artist alley at some point. This was a completely new area for the convention, the parking lot under the hall. It was hot and sticky and smelly! There was no ventilation, awful. I don’t do well with heat and almost passed out in artist alley by the end of it. However the artists this year were great! And a lot of them too. I talked with two girls who work on show with Nickelodeon. One for a new show called Three Delivery and the other for Dancing Sushi. Their work was strong and playful, this snagged me and ended up being my only purchases from the alley.
The stink of unwashed gamer and otaku was quite strong. I did see a group doing the Haruhi dance, the Lucky Star dance, and Caramelldansen down there. I can’t see why anyone would want to dance in that pit of stench but to each their own. I liked a lot of the artists this year. They had a good mixture of art styles. I really wanted a Saber in a suit picture from Fate/Zero or a picture of the Straw Hat Crew. But I forgot to bring reference materials. Oh well, another thing to do at Otakon.
Are you trying to make me jealous by constantly mentioning Otakon? Hum. One of the first panels I knew I wanted to attend was Gaijin in Japan. I am just uber curious about anything like this. The guy running it really seemed to know a lot, have good advice, and great stories. But the poor guy needed a longer panel or some serious time management. He barely got into the actual living and working in Japan part before it was over. I did get some good resources including the site Gaijin Pot, oddly enough Japan is in need of IT people! Of course that doesn’t help me much.
He did seem very knowledgeable and interesting so it was a shame his panel was not longer. I did like his section about the different dialects and certain speech patterns in Japan. Kansai-ben and Osaka-ben are things you always getting an inkling of in anime but never understand the full ramifications of on Japanese society. I was also interested to learn about the Japanese bus system and how it differs from the Japanese train system.
I went to the Revolving Door panel alone but since it was run by the Bad Anime! Bad! guy I was assured that it would be interesting. It was basically a look into how Japan and America keep ping ponging influences on their media back and forth. One of their examples was how William Gibson wrote Neuromancer which heavily influenced Ghost in the Shell. Ghost in the Shell and Megazone 23 in return heavily influenced The Matrix. The Matrix went on to pioneer bullet time which is used in anime. The panel was a constant stream of the back and forth between the two styles of media. Although the panelists had notes and the panel never dragged, it was run in a very conversational manner. The audience was encouraged to participate in the discussion while the panelists kept the conversation on track.
We ended the night on a high note with a panel of our own! Anime Recruitment strikes again! I am becoming less nervous as we continue to do these and one day I will be totally comfortable. I was surprised to have no tech problems, I really think that is a first. Plugged in the laptop and it was there on the screen, boom! And the panel proceeded with success. There wasn’t as many people as I was hoping for. I had forgotten that at smaller cons there are few attendees who don’t attend the masquerade. Whereas at something big, there are always lots of people about. But everyone who came seemed to leave with new knowledge. Also there were these great girls in the front row who were very excited. It was a lot of fun!
I think the panel went well and everyone got something from it. We did as well as we could with what we were given. It seemed like certain people in the audience got as many new shows to watch as they got shows to show other people. Those two girls in the front were writing notes constantly. There was one guy in the audience who was cosplaying Sean from Streetfighter who had a girlfriend that totally seemed to be dragged along to the con against her will. By the end of the panel she seemed interested in Monster and all the Satoshi Kon movies we mentioned. If nothing else it proves to me that our panel works.
AnimeNEXT was still fun, but it is hard not to have a good time with friends along. Also the convention was well run, although we are still waiting for our refund. The people running NEXT do a good job they just had some bad luck this year. And while I did attend some panels I never normally would have (even liked them) it doesn’t quite make up for it.