Convention Report: New York Anime Festival 2010

nyaflogobig[1]

Yes, this post is extremely late, almost three weeks late, but I felt other things took priority on the site. Any other excuse I won’t bore the reader with because they shouldn’t be bothered. While much of what I have to say has already been said… I hope you enjoy my Convention Report:

This is the first year that New York Anime Festival had been merged with New York Comic Con and the numbers speak for themselves. Last year around 21,000 people attended NYAF and 71,000 attended Comic Con, so the merge wasn’t exactly even. The fear before the event was that Comic Con would completely overshadow the Anime Fest and in a way, it did.

The Convention was divided into two main sections: The Comic Con section featured the massive Exhibition Hall, the Comic Con artist alley, the autograph area, the variant stage, and the Comic Con panel room. Then the Anime section which featured a modest artist alley, the maid cafe, screening rooms, panel rooms, and the massive screening room where Haruhi and other major releases were shown. While it was convenient to have all the anime events in a single area it felt like we were brushed aside, placed in a corner while the “big boy” convention was going on. I could live with that, as strange a dynamic as it was, because those fans that could care less about Comic Con could stay in the Anime section and be completely happy, right? Wrong.

P1010187.JPG.scaled500[1] The separation wasn’t complete enough to make the “two cons at the same time” scenario work. The Amine dealers and distributors were in the Exhibition hall mixed in with Comic Con. The worst part was that the anime stuff was all jammed into the back corner of the hall and due to the amount of fans that went for the Anime Festival and wanted to see Anime merchandise those two allies in the back were impossible to navigate. There was a jam of people wanting to get in and see what the dealers were selling but just by stopping and trying to look they made the jam worse. Granted, this was the first time the two conventions merged perhaps the management figured that those dealers wouldn’t be in high demand, but the management knew that at least 21,000 people wanted to see the stuff in those two isles. Had they put it more towards the middle it wouldn’t have been a problem because there is more room for the crowd to disperse, they aren’t locked against a wall on one side and could move into one of two isles around them, and the isles towards the middle felt bigger. They could have put something more niche, like the custom art toys, in that corner and not had the massive jam. Just because of the difficulty of getting near those booths I’m sure the vendors lost some serious sales over the weekend.

Comic Con did bring plenty of crossover potential to the show by attracting the large video game companies. I’m sure anime fans appreciated being able to play upcoming games from Nintendo, Rockstar, Hudson, Square Enix, and Sega. It also allowed me to discover a new aspects of the toy collector; custom art toys. There was half a row dedicated to these artistic toys specifically designed for other artists to come and customize them. It was cool to see how creative people can be on a plastic form and the ability wasn’t going unnoticed either with the custom versions having markups as high as $150.

P1010193.JPG.scaled500[1]In terms of guests, Minori Chihara in attendance was something spectacular and the big bands they got, X  Japan and Puffy AmiYumi, were a treat for fans but I doubt the merger with Comic Con affected their attendance to the convention.

If they are going to continue to have the joint convention they need to do one of two things, either completely separate them or merge them entirely. This half-separate, half-combined thing that happened over the weekend wasn’t the best solution. The anime section felt ghettoized and less respected than the large glittery booths of the Comic Con show floor. The fact that the Anime dealers booths were swarmed almost constantly means they need more space and placing the anime dealers in their own dealers room may be the only way to go considering it is impossible to make that exhibition hall any larger.

Highlights:

Exhibition Floor

P1010196.JPG

The Exhibition Floor, as I said above, was massive due to the presence of ComicCon. All the major video game companies had booths, including a massive booths for Square Enix, Sega, Nintendo, and Ubisoft. The anime presence was sparse, at best, and constantly crowded but Bandai managed to have a fantastic booth right in the front of the room where Minori Chihara and other starts signed autographs. Apparently, they also gave away free K-On! posters that I was unaware of at the time. Anger.

The second half of the Bandai booth showed off almost every model kit they had at the show. Dozens of Gundam, including the new kit from the Gundam Unicorn OVA, alongside Bandai’s other mecha properties. I picked up a Guren Mk II from Code Geass, it’ll be my first large Bandai model kit s so… hopefully everything goes well.

The hall was chaos, and looking back all I remember was chaos. The crowds were tough to manage, the most popular booths had unapproachable lines, and some obnoxious booths blasted loud music to disturb the people browsing in the Manwa booth.P1010150.JPG.scaled1000[1]

I avoided the American comic booths, having no real interest in buying classic comics. But the ComicCon artist alley was filled with a ton of interesting things. Again, because of the crowd and sheer size of the hall it was hard  to give everything as thorough a look as I would have liked. While I was mostly uninterested in the Hollywood stars giving autographs there was at least four cast members from Battlestar Galactica that I was fanboying over. I even got Nicki Clyne’s autograph! Squee!

The only other thing I purchased on the exhibition floor was a movie poster for “The girl who Leapt Through Time,” which was a great deal at $5 for the full sized poster. I might have bought I lot more if I didn’t have to take cabs and trains the whole weekend, but that is the problem with holding such a large convention in New York City.

The Exhibition hall was incredible and I wish I spend even more time there, but there should have been a little more organization to the place. Even late on Saturday I continued to discover places that I hadn’t seen before and while that was a magical feeling it doesn’t bode well for someone who sets out to see the entire convention.

Anime in Academia Panel

As someone who wants to approach anime from a more serious viewpoint that most would (hey I need to get some use out of that English Literature degree) I made it a point to check out the Anime in Academia Panel run by Alex Leavitt a stellar blogger and MIT researcher. I have approached anime from a literature studies point of view, focusing on the narrative; themes; how we as Americans are supposed to interpret those things, and reflections those ideas have on society. The panel that Alex assembled ran the gambit of areas of study that I wouldn’t have considered, most notably Sociology. The panelists were more concerned with the people who watch and make anime than the content as it exists.

The best advice they gave for anyone wishing to study anime on an academic level is that you must adapt anime into whatever interdisciplinary you wish to pursue in order to study it. So if one was a history major, they’d have to find a way to write about how Anime impacted history in a profound way, a socialist would look at Anime’s impact on society or study anime as a reflection on society. The primary topics of research that were most focused on were Toys, Collectors, Anime, Anime consumers, and Toy consumers which, when broken down, really show the varied niche topics one could study when the broader categories are broken down so finitely.

If one wanted to study anime seriously, as in any field of study, the panel suggested one to read widely and in many different media. So if your focus was manga than you should consume normal novels, American conics, ect in order to gain some perspective on what makes your media unique, what it does that sets it apart from other media. One should also experience the world and fold those experiences back into your field of study. The image of monks focusing their entire lives on study is a noble one but in order for anything to have context or to be relative to a good number of people it needs to be grounded in some real world experience.

When preparing your research there are some points to remember. The first is to always place the study in context, what does the study mean to someone outside the specific topic? Writing about anime for anime fans is great, but academia’s goal is to apply knowledge to all fields of study, so again this is where context is important to any field of study. The instinct is to write about something that is “shocking,” like an obsession with boys love manga, but focus should be on things that are genuinely good not topics that’ll draw controversy.

One drawback the panel pointed out in the academic world is the dominance of English. Japanese scholars are widely ignored by the American academic world unless they are published in English. While this is unfortunate the benefit is that being published in English is a great honor to Japanese academics so what little English language work we have from Japan is superb.

During the Q&A something was asked about the state of the industry and one of the panelists made a solid point, publishers ignore scanlators when times are good and villainize them when times are tough. Just an interesting point that reflected the recent crackdown on scanlators as the sale of manga has begun to drop.

List of suggested academic books:

The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya

My full review of The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya should be up in the next few days.

I have never seen an anime film in theaters, for whatever reason. Watching a film with a large audience is much different than watching alone or with a small group of friends , but that much more of an experience when the audience are massive fans of what they are about to see. There is a crowd reaction that is infectious. If you have a chance to see a really great anime film with a huge group of fans, or any type of film with a group of nerds, do it. Without question.

Minori Chihara Concert

The concert experience was strange, the crowd seemed to be divided to people who were extremely into the music and those who were just there to enjoy a show. But when she played the classic Haruhi closing theme, Hare Hare Yukai, the crowd went wild. Despite the fact that filming wasn’t allowed I couldn’t help but try and get that performance.

 

Hatsune Miku screening

The Hatsune Miku “concert” was the most disappointing event at the convention , I actually believed it was going to be some sort of concert but instead it was a screening of the Miku live concert DVD. It was enjoyable, but nothing I couldn’t have watched on Youtube. I love Miku… if you haven’t watched any video of the live concert it is amazing, the way the crowd reacts to a 2D idol is unbelievable.

Posts from New York Anime Festival 2010:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s