MangaNEXT is one of the few conventions where I did not attend all three days, and as such it was difficult to see all the events going on. However, I was happy to see MangaNEXT invite a much more experimental manga artist, who is currently living in New York City, to give the festivities a different feel.
The bigger the convention the bigger the guests and the announcements. But even the smallest of cons can have some exciting guests and surprising announcements. Also while the guests may not be the biggest they are also infinitely more accessible. MangaNEXT did give everyone a solid service by having the schedule include a chart of all the panels the guests were giving which was great if you wanted to know which panels were being run by which guests. It is certainly an idea that could be used at more conventions.
Akino Kandoh is not your typical manga-ka, she is much more a contemporary artist who uses manga and animation as her media for expression. I only recently came to know her work as she has a piece and is featured on the cover of recently released in English AX Volume 1: A Collection of Alternative Manga. Her panel on Saturday while grossly underattended was nice and intimate. She started off with some slides of her work and then continued by playing her animated shorts for us. This was a real treat as the simplicity and imagery were evocative. When she mentioned she was working on her next animation Kiya Kiya, I asked if she could talk about it a bit during the Q&A portion. She did better than that by showing us some stills. Ms. Kandoh went on to ponder why she always uses this similar looking girl character, concluding that she didn’t know but she is always compelled to draw her. She said most of her inspiration comes from the memories of childhood and the idea of deja vu and how that can play with memory as well. Ms. Kandoh will be part of a group exhibition in January in Chelsea and also have a solo show in Japan later in 2011. She was a different and fascinating guest that really elevated the convention.
I was slightly saddened by the fact that the MangaCast panel was in fact a Vertical panel. While I was glad to see what was coming out in the future for Vertical my hopes a little were dashed for a MangaCast panel that was Ed Chavez’s incredible insight into the world of manga. If you wanted that you had to attend Ed’s panel on Japanese Manga Publishers on Sunday. While there were no big announcements we did get to see the new covers of the upcoming Vertical novels and manga. Ed mentioned that they had been working on releasing Kimba the White Lion but Tezuka Productions had decided to pull back that title for a later release in the US. As a side note it seems that Tezuka Productions is aiming to release as many of Tezuka’s manga online as they can independent of Vertical and that their progresses in France is far further along. Ed also mentioned that Chi was doing very well but Black Jack sales had definitely lost their momentum in anything but the newest books and that Twin Spica could always be doing better. That means everyone should go out and give Black Jack and Twin Spica as gifts to their friends because I really want to be able to finish reading Twin Spica.
I was happy with the guest of MangaNEXT and pleased by how intellectual much of it was. This was a convention where I was really able to experience something new and gain a better appreciation for the different ways manga can function for an artist. As always there never seems to be a way to see every event, but being able to say that at little ole MangaNEXT is a testament to the things being presented.
I do regret not be able to attend more of the events with featured guests. Nina Paley seemed very interesting and I heard that her Copyright panel had some very spirited debate within. I also regret not being able to check out the Uzuhi concert but we had our own panel to run at that time. Hopefully I will be able to attend events with them at a later date. I do look forward to seeing what guests they have next year at MangaNEXT.
More MangaNEXT 2010 coverage: