JUST SO YOU KNOW I KEEP UPDATING THIS POST (it’s like a time-delayed live-blog)
I should mention before I start that I’d never been to an anime convention before, a fact which astounded a good many people who bumped into me at the convention.
Anyway, last weekend was the New York Anime Festival, and I was there (along, mostly, with SDS, Hisui+Narutaki+Kohaku, and Dave, while trying to re-enact Green Acres in reverse), and it was fun, although I’m still a little woozy from the insanity, the madness, and other things that weren’t Yoshiyuki Tomino.
And speaking of, Tomino was more or less the best part. The fiasco at the keynote speech has no doubt been done to death, so I’ll just say that the poor translator was obviously in over his head. Tomino himself was pretty grand, though: one of my favorite things he said (that wasn’t a 1o-second Tomino one-liner) was how essential he felt it was for anyone engaging in creative activities to invest their feelings and personal experiences into what they create. He mentioned the experience of running away from a B-29 bomber in his childhood as well as growing up inunduated with science fiction TV and movies, and how much different his work would have been if he had only experienced one of those. I also loved, along the same lines, how he stressed the necessity of a broad experience of life and media, a sentiment echoing Tezuka’s famous statement that “in order to make new manga, don’t read manga”. Many older fans feel concerned that the younger generation is straying away from these roots–I was reading Matt Alt’s synopsis/reaction to Toshio Okada’s Otaku Are Already Dead and Okada, too, harps upon how younger otaku aren’t actively engaged in broadening their horizons as much–and while I think it is a valid and major point of concern, I hesitate to overgeneralize a diverse group of people in this time of global paradigm shifts in almost every sector of industry and culture.
But, I digress.
The ten-second Tomino snark replies (my favorites being “Civilians are more likely to die” and “Adults are the enemy, and I am a very old man, so I am the SUPER-enemy, so you shouldn’t listen to me ever”) were also great, and I got tickets for the Friday night signing, and got the liner notes for the third Turn-A Gundam OST signed. I’m still not sure if it was because SDS had him sign his Zambot 3 boxset just before me, but he was super-happy about it–he looked at it for a minute before he signed it, and I heard happy noises. As well, the clip reel of every Tomino series (that isn’t Garzey’s Wing) was amazing (I was vastly pleased with the loud support for Turn-A), and Ring of Gundam was…interesting, if short.
With regards to the rest of the convention, more or less I hit up the industry panels, which were strategically placed throughout the con just well enough to render nearly any other con activity useless. My favorite was the Del Rey panel, as I had yet to be exposed to the awesome hilarity of Ali Kokmen. I had to miss the Vertical panel (they licensed Twin Spica!) due to the Tomino keynote being counter-scheduled (which I still think is the most egregious error made there), but I did get chances to talk to Ed Chavez and picked up Summer of the Ubume and Guin Saga v1 (only I could go to an anime convention and buy novels, although I do hope that Vertical sold more novels than those I picked up, and I was going to get Apollo’s Song later but missed out). I don’t know if the CPM retrospective counted as an “industry” panel but it was pretty much the most dangerous (and most hilarious) panel at the convention–just the story about how all new employees were sat down in front of a TV, made to watch Urotsukidoji, and then had to sign a waiver that stated they consented to working on things like that (and, as Sevakis noted, “Urotsukidoji was tame“) was worth the hour of sitting there (and there were a lot of great things going on in the CPM panel)
And, yes (for those who did attend the Blogger’s Roundtable panel) that was me up there and yes there were a lot of people on the panel and yes I don’t speak in public well (especially impromptu oh god) and yes I had the handwritten placard because I told Narutaki I was “kind of thinking about doing the panel but I wasn’t sure yet” to which the response was all “I’ll make you a placard and it’ll be awesome”. In somewhat related news, I also ran into Erin and Noah of the Ninja Consultants Podcast and talked with them over microphone for a while about moe (badly, but hopefully amusingly in both the right and wrong ways), working in a library, and getting to freelance for Otaku USA, and maybe other things that I can’t quite remember at the moment. Other people that I remember meeting and talking directly to for longer than a few seconds include moritheil, Deb “I have a 401(K)!” Aoki, Chris Schmitt (also of Otaku USA), omoikane (which was actually more of a “acknowledgement of existence” and then con business hit), VamptVo, kransom, and the owner of the French Fries of Forgiveness and Friendship (you know who you are). To all of the aforementioned, and those that I may have crossed paths with and didn’t talk to or recognize or have had Temporary Memory Lapse, I thank you very very much for not punching me in the face. Although I’d be okay with that, too, if you know Hokuto Shinken–if I have to die, that is admittedly the best way.
I also caught Cencoroll, and all I really can say (or feel like I should say) is that it was amazing. It’s a simple story of boy-meets-girl, boy-is-disinterested-in-girl, girl-is-interested-in-boy, girl-proves-self-indispensible-to-boy, boy-grudgingly-accepts-girl’s-presence-in-his-life, but it was well-told with a heavy dose of quirk and transforming independently mobile blobs. I was a lot more impressed by it than I was by Voices of a Distant Star/Hoshi no Koe, but that might be because I didn’t watch Voices until several years after it was released, reducing some of the impact.
Overall, I had a rather exciting first convention. Between the actual con and running around town with SDS, Hisui, Narutaki, and Dave (and failing very rapidly and very hilariously on DJ Max Technika which some arcade around me should have ASAP, and also rockin’ Galaga badly as I do every time I see a Galaga machine), I had fun with both NYAF and in NYC itself. I figure that if I’m threatened with drastic measures to be forced to remain a prisoner of NYC for all eternity (this stopped just short of a geas but did include chaining me to immobile objects so I would miss my train)