Friday, September 26, 2008

New York Anime Festival

New York Anime Festival

Alright, I have to go to my convention. I usually do a few things first. First, I bring a large shoulder bag, some pens, and a pad of paper to take notes. The shoulder bag will be empty except for som very light reading which is my obsession.

I like to look at the floor plan before I go as well as the list of author talks or presentations.
I am going to visit Booth 201 Bandai Entertainment, Booth 241 Anime insider, Booth 308 Diamond Book Distributors, Funimation Entertainment 504, Random House Del Rey Pantheon Booth 314.

I hope to go to the panel on Anime Journalism Room 1A24 1:45-2:30 P.M.
And I also hope I get to see Hideyuki Kikuchi the author of Vampire Hunter D 5:30-6:30 P.M in Room 1A24

Anime Next is running a Manga Library so I'll probably go there as well. Room 1 B 01.

I like to have an idea of where I am going before I go to conferences and be prepared. I usually do something different from what I originally planned, but that is alright.

When I got there it was completely different from what I expected. There were people all over in costume, cosplay. They were dressed up as different anime characters, everything from the Transformers to Naruto, to Fruits Basket. It was kind of fun to see the girls and guys in some very funky and sometimes revealing costumes. There were a lot of brightly colored maid costumes, not just in black, but also pink. People were wearing rabbit ears, fox ears, and cat ears. Some people were dressed up as cats. I bought a ten dollar cat ear hat. I think I might wear it on halloween. The young adult librarian wants to do a cosplay party as part of the anime club at the library. She bought a disposable camera to take pictures of the costumes.

There were tons of toys as well. All sorts of different stuffed plush toys which came from different anime shows. There were booths with an incredible variety of costuming material and prop fantasy weapons. Eight foot long wooden swords, ninja outfits, kimonos, cat costumes, doll costumes, superhero outfits, corsets, funny hats, buttons, masks, and all kinds of oddities. There was even a magazine devoted to this Otaku magazine. A lot of it was cute, harmless, and fun. However, the lolita material is a little bit disturbing. We are very careful at our library about lolita material and teenagers.

I skipped the animenewsnetwork panel and went to hear a panel on independent j rock, Japanese Rock. There were two bands who were talking Karaterice and Echostream. In the program guide there were eleven musical guests.

The variety of different types of things associated with anime was incredible. There was a Naruto videogame, anime card games, there was even a lightsaber dueling club. The convention was a kind of fun house for adults and late teens. Anime is stretching into many aspects of popular entertainment.

The show floor had a lot of very risque material. People were selling x-rated material, hentai and yaoi. I was quite surprised at the amount of this kind of material. I thought it was a little over the top. Some of it was quite salacious. The material ran the gamut from childrens material to very adult material. We can buy R rated material and some unrated material, but for the most part we don't buy x rated. Selling x rated material can drive away some of the buyers who are looking for more conventional material for children and adults.

There were not a huge amount of publishers there. I did not see Viz or Tokyopop at the convention. Bandai and Funimation were at the convention. Del Rey Manga was there as well. There was very little free material.

There was an interesting attitude prevalent at the convention that they were there to make money at the convention, not later. Everything was focused on the immediate sale. This was less prevalent at New York Comic Con. At New York Comic Con there seemed to be more of an understanding that some of the professionals might be ordering large amounts with long term accounts.

I did pick up several free magazines with information on the bestselling animation and manga; anime insider, and ICv2 were two of them. I also picked up a free copy of Previews from Diamond Comic Distributors, which is a magazine which lists all the forthcoming comics and items for the next month which are going to be sold in comic book shops.

I bought three Vampire Hunter D novels from Darkhorse Press for myself. I really enjoy Hideyuki Kikuchi's work. He was one of the featured guests at the conference. Unfortunately, I could not get them autographed. The tickets for the autographing table had run out by 10:30 a.m. for his book signing.

A criticism which I have for a lot of the people at the conference is that very few people had paper catalogs. Being able to read about a book or video in a full page spread is quite helpful. Catalogs are tactile. Most people have difficulty wading through websites. I have said this before; people read slower on the internet and don't like scrolling through large amounts of material.

I have been to both New York Comic Con and Book Expo America in the Jacob Javits Center. Almost all of the publishers there had paper catalogs. Preferred referred me to their websites (This distributor had classic martial arts films-- Shaw Brothers films like Five Deadly Venoms), , and Only one publisher had a paper catalog which they gave to me, Vertical Inc.

I think I drove the AnimeNext Library people crazy. They had a library of donated manga. There were a number of manga which I had wanted to look at. I spent about an hour and half looking at different manga. I was hoping to select a few titles to order for the library. Looking at manga in booths where you are expected to buy it immediately can be uncomfortable. We buy with our discounted accounts from distributors like Baker and Taylor at the library.

Six titles stood out among the manga Absolute Boyfriend, Aria, Case Closed, Record of the Lodoss War, Samurai Legend, and Silent Mobius. Animenext is another large convention in New Jersey.

I was just a little annoyed that a professional pass did not get you in early like in New York Comic Con or Book Expo America. We got in at the same time as the fans. They did have a seating area for professionals on the exhibition floor which was a nice touch. I also liked the idea of the Maid Cafe. The food at the Maid Cafe was good. I got a cobb salad and a bottle of green tea. It was a bit expensive $8.25 for the salad and $3.00 for the tea.

There were some areas that I am not exactly sure about. I walked through the section of artists tables. I really was not sure what to make of them. The Anime Festival catalog had very little on the artists biographies. Knowing what an artist does before you look at their art can make a big difference.

Another missing element which might have helped in this conference are some of the producers of anime and manga instruction materials, both books and films. Anime and manga are great, but it is even better when you can buy instruction materials on how to draw manga and make anime films. Also, having artists biographies can be quite interesting.

I realize this is the second year that this convention has happened. I really enjoyed going to the conference, but it was flawed.

There were more professionally oriented panels for manga and anime at the New York Comic Con than at the New York Anime Festival. I saw only a single panel specifically for librarians, Starting an Anime and Manga Club at a Library on Sunday. I would have liked to see a panel called how to select anime for your library.

There were quite a few librarians who I saw that were attending. There were two other people from my library at the conference and several people from surrounding libraries in the county. I went on company time. It was fun, but it was also business. Our anime club is for teenagers.

I was surprised that Kinokuniya was the official bookstore of the conference. I have never been to Kinokuniya bookstore. I might stop by there sometime. When I go to Manhattan, I often go to Forbidden Planet to look at both graphic novels and manga. I would have liked to see more publishers, bookstores, and distributors of media.

If I had more time, I would have gone to the screenings at the conference. There were anime screenings all day long for anime films. It was impossible to visit even a fraction of what was available at the show in a single day because of the variety of panels and showings.

I also really liked the catalog design for the conference. The description of panels, floor layout, and inclusion of a story by Hideyuki Kikuchi was top notch.

The highlight of the show for me was the translated talk by Hideyuki Kikuchi who is an amazing writer. I learned a number of points during his talk. D in the Vampire Hunter D novels is based on the character Shane in the classic western novel by Jack Schaeffer. Many of the scenes in his novels are based on westerns. The other major influence on the novels are the classic Hammer horror films.

Hideyuki Kikuchi is supposed to have written 300 novels. He has produced some 20 Vampire Hunter D novels in 30 volumes. He says that the greatest number of pages he has produced in a single day is 94 pages. He claims that when he becomes absorbed in his writing he does not sleep.

His first novel was Demon City Shinjiku which he based on the John Carpenter film Escape from New York. When he was young he would go to the movies or read comics. There was not as much entertainment available to youth as there is now. He wrote his first novel because he ran out of stories to sell as a magazine writer.

His process for writing a novel is that first he decides on a location, then he creates a hero, after that he makes it up as he goes along.

It was truly fun listening to him talk, even though his words were translated. I really like the new Vampire Hunter D manga, I reviewed one of them earlier. As I do this blog, I am learning more about how to look at comics and manga. The Vampire Hunter D novels in english which are being distributed by Dark Horse comics. Hideyuki Kikuchi says that D is a complete fantasy.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for dropping by my site! Great to find a fellow book lover; and an Anime fan to boot! Excellent. Sounds like a pretty great convention. I've yet to make it to any here in the Toronto, Ontario area.


Cromely said...

Nice write up. It sounds like the show is facing the same challenges that Digital Life and E3 have faced -- the question of the audience. Is it a show for the fans or for the industry? The pressure to buy on the spot indicates the show is really leaning more towards the fans than the industry.

CES was never a fan show so it doesn't really face that challenge. That's why there are so few sales on the floor. And, while it seems like it would be a geek paradise, it really isn't.

E3 went even more extreme, essentially dumping the show floor and focusing on meetings and related activities.

I missed Digital Life this year but it seemed like it was just starting to come to terms with those challenges.

Book Calendar said...

With anime, the fans and the industry tend to be one and the same a lot of the time. This is also true of the comic books industry.

However, I think they could have worked on creating a little more discerning of a space for people who wanted to portray themselves as professionals, not just fans.

I also didn't realize they had invited the World Otaku competition to the conference, which is an international anime costume competition.

This may have changed the flavor of the convention completely from other anime conventions.