I realized I haven't updated my blog in a while. Been kind of busy with life in general and didn't put any time into blogging. Fortunately, the summer con season is upon us with AnimeNEXT and I took this opportunity to write up a con report. Enjoy!
Thursday: Day 0
Thankfully, AnimeNEXT had pre-registration pick up on Thursday as well as regular registration. Picking up the badge on Thursday alleviates anxiety from having to deal with missing out on panels or programming while you wait on-line to pick up the badges. The pickup went pretty smooth and it only took me about an hour of waiting in line. Already, people there were upbeat about the con and some actually cosplayed even though it wasn't a convention day.
Friday: Day 1
I wish more conventions would do this: Open the con at 9 AM, but schedule panels a few hours later in the day. AnimeNEXT did just that. This allows people who didn't pick up badges on Thursday to not worry about missing out on an interesting panel. By the time the first panel started, most people already had their badges. AnimeNEXT changed up the convention layout this year. There were 10 rooms in the Doubletree hotel dedicated to panels and workshops. Artist alley was enlarged, and video games moved to the Holiday Inn hotel in across the street. Once again the video screenings were in the training center.
@TheDigitalBug: Always impressed by #anx2010 variety in the dealer’s room.
Panels, Panels, and more Panels...
The majority of the time at cons, I spend attending interesting (or so I hope) panels. Today was no exception. I started out my day by attending the "Rando Me!" panel. It was a fan panel about random gag anime such as Excel Saga and Cromartie High School. Other than that, there was nothing note worthy to say about this panel.
I was very impressed by the panel I attended next: The "Inside the Lives of Congoing Otaku" panel focused on a discussion about: What is to be a congoer. How do others view congoers? General behavior of congoers. What is the past, present, and possibly the future of conventions? The panelist predicted that conventions are going to continue to grow and that many more are going to show up. Concurrently, new small conventions will appear that specialize in a genre of anime or a very large series like Gundam.
“You don’t want to be glomped by a 400 lbs slave leah.”
AniGamers and Uncle Yo presented a panel on "Fandom & Criticism: The Art of Active Viewing" which discussed techniques on critiquing Anime, Manga, and Video Games. This was a very useful guide for bloggers and writers who spend a good amount of time reviewing an object of interest.
As any convention, AnimeNEXT has opening ceremonies. Unlike other conventions, AnimeNEXT attempts to introduce the convention to the attendees with a humorous skit. This year, they did a silly awards ceremony which although wasn't of the best execution, managed to keep everyone in the seats at least amused.
The Japanese guest of honor for AnimeNEXT this year, besides the musical guests, was Kenji Kamiyama: A high profile director and screenplay writer of Production I.G. Some of the shows he worked on was Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Seirei no Moribito, Jin-Roh, and most recently, Eden of the East. A usual, a Questions and Answers panel took place and everyone had the opportunity to ask Mr. Kamiyama questions about him and/or his works. The crowd managed to ask him some very interesting questions and Mr. Kamiyama was very open with answering most questions.
This year, the musical guest was a mostly-girl band from Japan titled "Stereopony" who are responsible for a few songs that appeared in Bleach, Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Darker than Black OAV, and Yatterman Movie. I was pleased by the fact that the concert ACTUALLY had standing space for a change as opposed to just seats. Stereopony's music is a colorful melodic rock and the crowd responded very lively. Their concert went very well despite the fact that press were hassled by the staff for taking pictures even though they're press!
I finished the day by attending a Hello! Project Idol Madness panel. Since I know very little about Hello! Project idols, I came mostly to see if I can learn more about this Japanese phenomenon. Even though I expected a discussion panel, it was mostly a game show that gauged your knowledge of Hello! Project idols....*sigh*.
Saturday: Day 2
Crowd today is noticeably younger. #anx2010
I fired up my AnimeNEXT day with some Rock Band at the Holiday Inn hotel and checked out the video game rooms there. Basically, they took three rooms and took out the walls in between them. There was a large abundance of fighting games, only a little bit of first person shooters, some rhythm games and plenty of old school console games on SNES, Sega Genesis or Dreamcast. Rockband was in a room by itself as well as Dance Dance Revolution. As usual, there were plenty of tournaments going on throughout the whole weekend.
Just like any other anime convention, AnimeNEXT had anime screenings. But unlike most other conventions, the screenings were playing 24/7 and there were a total of 5 rooms just playing anime non-stop. Funimation also brought in Master of Martial Hearts to screen at AnimeNEXT so it was a good opportunity to get a preview of the whole show.
In attempt to master the art of spending money on a con, I attended the ConBudget panel which was loaded with tips and tricks for minimizing the expenditure of a convention trip such as how to travel, stay overnight, shop, etc. Following the ConBudget panel, I cought the better half of the Otaku: Through the Generations panel which featured more discussions on verious generations of Otaku.
Funimation was the only company that had an industry panel at AnimeNEXT. We had the opportunity to meet Josh, the new man that will be hosting most Funimation panels from now on since Adam Sheehan was promoted to a different position in the company. Unfortunately, Funimation had nothing new to announce at AnimeNEXT and so if you already saw the news from Anime Boston or Anime North, you pretty much knew everything that was going to be shown at the panel. Josh wasn't as lively as Adam, but once he gets the hang of his job, he'll get better.
A weathered veteran of the anime industry, Greg Aryes, mainly discussed the impact of piracy on the anime and manga industry as well as the recent scanlations shake-up. Greg Aryes has already talked in the past about how piracy and fansubs are ruining the anime industry hoping that his voice would at least inspire people to take a stand. He was questions whether his efforts are in vain or whether they actually cultivated fans to respect copyrighted works and perhaps stimulate the industry. He does not know, but I believe from what I seen, that his struggle did indeed sway fans toward a more legal approach to appreciating anime and manga.
Ever wondered why older anime has such different drawing style? How bishounen came to be? Evan Minto of AniGamers answered these questions and discussed the evolution of character design at The Changing Faces of Anime panel. He discussed all the styles that became building blocks for later styles in modern anime one time period at a time.
Uncle Yo provided an hour of nostalgia at the "As the Otaku Grows" panel where he discussed all the old shows and cartoons that most of us grew up with. As usual, the panel was filled with plenty of humor as well as revelations of cartoons that got away with some perverse stuff.
I wrapped up the day with a hentai panel...but unfortunately when I got out of a previous panel there was a long line of people waiting to get into a small room. Surely I wasn't going to get in, but I persevered and midway through the panel I was finally able to get in. The panel focused mainly on series that were not licensed (yet) . But they did show a good list of quality titles.
Sunday: Day 3
Sunday at three day conventions is always a day of relaxation. A day to cool down after two days of partying. For some people Sunday was the only day that they attended the con so the energy was still there. I didn't do much other than do some last bit of shopping and then sat in some interesting panels.
Every convention should have one of these: A panel on otaku by otaku for otaku. The discussion ranged from how otaku are potrayed by the media, how otaku are viewed by normals to what makes otaku tick.
I have not seen Legend of Galactic Heroes, but I was intrigued by it since I keep seeing and hearing people talking about it. So I took the plunge and watched the first movie of it along with fan commentary. Pretty good stuff.
Appearing for the second year, a Psychology and Anime by Charles Dunbar discusses philosophies in psychology and how they apply to anime and anime fandom. This was a very insightful and educational panel where we got to ponder the implications of how we perceive and interpret anime.
To close off, AnimeNEXT 2010 was a blast. Although a moderately sized con, AnimeNEXT is able to provide the congoers with plenty of things to do, and very interesting guests. Although there are still some issues that AnimeNEXT needs to iron out for future years, AnimeNEXT is going to continue to grow and bring quality entertainment for attendees for years to come. On a completely different note, here's my weekend spoils:
Other AnimeNEXT 2010 reports to check out: