NY Comic Con & Anime Festival 2011: Screenings

At NYCC you can get exclusive toys, play games before they are released, see new trailers, and get some exclusive news of the hottest geek properties, but one of the biggest draws is the ability to see select movies or episodes before anyone else. This year had a good deal of exclusive content just like the years before. I hardly saw all of it but I was glad to get a sneak peek at somethings I was really interested in. There are also some really impressive anime premiers along with the cartoon, movie, and TV sneak previews so the otaku don’t feel left out in a sea of American media nerds.

Premieres have been something that I’ve started associating with New York Comic Con the last couple of years, it is something that really draws me. Between anime, movies, cartoons, and television you could have probably just seen premieres for the bulk of the weekend! While I didn’t get to attend as many as I have in year’s past, I was still pleased with the overall choices.

The biggest premiere I went to was the showing of Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below. I missed seeing it at Otakon to cover some panels with the Japanese guests. I heard very mixed review about this movie. While everyone enjoyed it the real contention was where reviewers felt it stood in his body of work. Hardcore Makoto Shinkai fans usually felt it was a promising but highly flawed work while people who felt Makoto Shinkai was a one trick pony loved it as a sign of his maturation beyond his normal habits. Truth be told both sides are correct. They are just focusing on different things so it makes their opinions seem very different. This is clearly a film in which Makoto Shinkai has one foot in what he has done before and one foot in new waters. The movie has many flaws but it also has many beautiful elements. Children Who Chase Voices has the most action of any of his films and often  shines when these scenes occur. But often times it seems his blending of contemplative and energetic don’t mix as nicely as you would like. Also the common complaint that he is cribbing off Studio Ghibli which I feel is unmistakable. All that said I thought it was a wonderful movie. If anything the criticism of the flaws of the movie are so intense because it is clear that Makoto Shinkai has the potential to be a legendary director if he can learn from his mistakes in this movie. If you have the chance either see this movie in theaters or pick it up when it inevitably gets licensed. If you go in with reasonable expectations you will have a film experience that will stick with you.

Marvel Televisions’s panel was a lot of maybes and things in the works for live action but the animation portion was most exciting. First we were treated to the first preview of the new Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon. It is young, but not too young, and has a good voice for Peter. It also includes plenty of his quipping and making remarks to the watcher. I was also very happy to hear J.K. Simmons reprising his role as J. Jonah Jameson which has and always will be spot on casting. One hopes there will be some crossover with Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. And speaking of, one of the highlights of the weekend was seeing the premiere of Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes S2. It picks up quite close to where we last left off (I won’t spoil, but seriously if you haven’t watched the first season what are you waiting for? It is up for free on Marvel’s site!) jumping right into the story though it isn’t totally apparent at first. This episode guest stars the Fantastic Four and one of the biggest villains of the Marvel U, Doctor Doom. There are some very hilarious moments between Hulk and the Thing which were welcome, too. The only real disappointment for the episode was Wasp and Invisible Woman getting rescued. Sigh. Though when I asked if we would be seeing more of Mockingbird and Ms. Marvel and whether more women would join the Avengers permanently I was told I would really like where S2 is headed.

I went to the Fate/Zero screening for variety of reasons despite the fact that I had already seen and reviewed the first episode. The first reason was the Aniplex rep said there were going to be raffles at the Aniplex screenings that weekend. Sadly that was not the case with Fate/Zero and so my heart was broken. I also just wanted to see the reactions of people who are not me to the series. For what I could tell the crowd was a mixture of people who were already Type-Moon fans and people who were aware of the franchise but had not seen much just from snippets of overheard conversation. There was at least one really loud fan who kept going “WOO! TYPE-MOON!” (and they were not me believe it or not.) I was a bit surprised that for all the energy the audience had before the screening the were relatively quiet during the hour-long episode. I guess I am just used to rowdier crowds during anime screenings at a con. The thing that got the most fan reaction were the appearance of characters people already knew like Rin, Sakura, and of course Saber.  The other moment that got the most reason was the infamous circling conversation scene that got several chuckles. But in the end when the episode ended the crowd reaction was enthusiastically positive which always warms by heart. But of course the third reason I went was simply that there not really a chance I was NOT going. As a side note: Dear Ilya fandom, I know you exist and you are not going anywhere but try to be less obviously creepy. At least pretend to like her for less than pedo reasons.

There is traditionally a DC Animated panel every year at NYCC and I always attend whether they are showing something or not. Bruce Timm is usually in attendance as well as other various talent. This year’s panel I expected to focused on Batman: Year One but sadly they didn’t show anything from it and didn’t talk all that much about it either despite it being a rather new type of project for them considering the source material. They did show the 10-minute Catwoman short included with the DVD. The later half of the animation features a fun swing through the city chase and a good fight that takes place in the front seat of a truck. The earlier half of the film has two stripteases, one of Catwoman and one of another random girl. I was more surprised than anything else, especially because I felt they should have given a verbal warning in an all ages panel taking place in the middle of the day. There is no on-screen nudity but it was still a very mature short. After that they showed the trailer for Justice League: Doom which is an interpretation of the Tower of Babel story in which Batman has plans on how to take out each heroes if they were ever to go bad. These plans of course fall into the wrong hands. Kevin Conroy showed up for this part of the panel which was exciting, he is the Batman voice. Everyone had a good laugh when the panelists were discussing how Batman shouldn’t leave information lying around to which Mr. Conroy (in the Batman voice) said, “Damn that iPhone.”

I had not originally planned to go see Level Up but I was roped into going when I found out that Ben Levin and Matt Burnett were working on the TV series. I later found out that the are only working on the TV series and did not work on this premiere movie but I was still glad I went. If nothing else I got a very nice sports bottle for my effort. The premise of the story is that three kids who play a MMORPG that is clearly World Of Warcraft discover that the monsters are entering the real world led by their evil master from the game with the intent of enslaving humanity. The problem is that the kids who discover this plot are a jock, a punk, and a nerd. So they must learn to work together using like they do in the game even if they hate each other in real life. There is also a girl from the school newspaper who is also trying to uncover what is going on. It was enjoyable but I felt a weird tug of war within the script. Parts of it felt like very clever parody that was trying appeal to a younger audience while at the same time giving an older audience something to enjoy. Other times there was some distinct bog standard kiddie fare plotting, dialog, and humor complete with cliche dialog and multiple fart jokes. The script oscillated back and forth as if there were written by two teams forced to work on the project but refusing to budge on their vision. I also have to say that the guy playing the billionaire designer of the game was channeling Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark so hard I expected him to accidentally call for Pepper Potts. Still it was more enjoyable than I thought it would be and I am curious to see if Ben and Matt can influence the show to focus more on what I enjoyed about the premise to help counteract the written by committee feeling in the premiere.

I was disappointed that I didn’t attend Kono Danshi Uchujin to Tatakaemasu’s international premiere but in order to do so one was required to be in the Masquerade line. The thought of actually doing that made me cry and laugh at the same time, needless to say I skipped that. And still there were others I didn’t even attempt such as Beavis and Butthead. And I saw many a line for everything that was getting a screening over the weekend. I overheard one guy saying he didn’t get why people would do that when it would be out in a month or two and just had to shake my head. Seeing something early is special, why wouldn’t you want to! While there is no one reason I go to New York Comic Con, premieres are always a stand out piece to me and make the experience that much more special.

Man I am ticked off that I had a chance to get into the Marvel Television panel after it started. I really wanted to see what they had to offer. But I suppose sometimes you just have to see what you can get into if you try. Other than that I was pleased with the anime premieres at the NYCC. While the NYAF might have gotten the shaft in many ways the anime premieres were still high-caliber. The ability to see the second episode of Guilty Crown before it aired in Japan is nothing to sneeze at. Even if the NYAF goes away I hope that they continue to provide just as high quality exclusive anime content at NYCC. But even if all the anime content goes away the premiere cartoon material alone is worth the price of admission for any fan of animation.

More NY Comic Con and Anime Festival and 2011 posts:

NY Comic Con & Anime Festival 2011: Tweets
NY Comic Con & Anime Festival 2011: General Impressions
NY Comic Con & Anime Festival 2011: The App
NY Comic Con & Anime Festival 2011: Exhibitors Hall
NY Comic Con & Anime Festival 2011: Panels
NY Comic Con 2011: Venture Bros.

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