Otaku USA Magazine
2009 New York Anime Festival

fp-NYAF 2009 for OUsA - 06

s-NYAF 2009 for OUsA - 16Here is my short list of highlights from the 4th and final New York Anime Festival:

– Yoshiyuki Tomino draws a haru-ball with every signature.
– The one-man Indy-short Cencoroll premiered and looks like fun (I only saw the trailer).
– Vertical picked up Chi’s Sweet Home.
– “Simulcast” was the word of the day on the industry panel.
– Dallas Middaugh cut Del Rey’s 5th Year Anniversary Ace of Cakes cake with a katana.
– Aniplex is wagging the dog.
Central Park Media was given a fond farewell.

Personal Notes:

– I finally found that Hello Kitty Onigiri mould I’ve been looking for at an all-bento accessory dealer.
– I randomly saw my friend’s entire Gothic Lolita fashion line because her models were all in the bathroom getting ready for the fashion show.
– I got to meet Caleb Dunaway and interview him about moe.

Del Rey’s fifth anniversary party was held at Dave and Busters in Times Square on Thursday night. I was told there would be cake. A manga-shaped cake was commissioned from Charm City cakes, as made famous by Ace of Cakes on Food Network. Wait staff brought out a couple trays of cake, but less than half of the fans got a slice of the Charm City sculpture. I showed up because I’m a fan of both Ace of Cakes AND Del Rey, and I really wanted to know what a Charm City cake tastes like. I wasn’t aggressive enough and I thought there would be more cake, so I never got a slice. It seemed like more people won raffle items than got cake slices. Loads of prizes had been donated by different companies.

Here’s my cake-cutting video:

Here’s the official cake-cutting video:

Also on Thursday night, Fathom Events aired the movie Eureka Seven; Goodnight, Sleep Tight Young Lovers, directly opposite Del Rey’s anniversary party. Later, Bandai showed a trailer for the film during their panel, which I thought was kind of cruel – here’s an ad for an event you missed!

Friday was lovely, except that the Vertical panel was scheduled opposite Yoshiyuki Tomino’s keynote address. The front row crew of bloggers and press (including me) had to make a hard decision. Ed Chavez used to be one of us, but he became Vertical’s Director of Marketing this year. We all wanted to support Ed’s panel and applaud his  acquisition of Chi’s Sweet Home.

s-NYAF 2009 for OUsA - 19+The fact that Tomino, the creator of Gundam, was at the con was totally amazing. It’s the 30th anniversary of Gundam, so Tomino’s people provided a very nice montage of clips from all of his works (including Marine Boy) played before his Q&A panel on Saturday. Afterwards, they played an unsubbed short film Ring of Gundam. It was all CG, with some nice effects and others that were a step below Advent Children. The plot was incomprehensible. According to Carl “Oguie Maniax” Li, understanding Japanese didn’t help it make more sense.

Aniplex played their English dubbed Guin Saga trailer at their panel, but clarified that no one has licensed the property (although the first five novels are available from Vertical). The dubbed trailer was not an official dub, but something they threw together to screen at Tokyo Anime Fair, Anime Expo, and Anime Boston. I think this is really wagging the dog – they’re trying hard to generate a fan demand for the title by touring America.

Aniplex also played trailers for Garden of Sinners and Kuroshitsuji (Black Butler), neither of which have a distributor yet.

This year’s annual “State of the Industry” panel covered both anime and manga, with a lot of thoughtful insight from the panelists. I took a lot of notes, which should probably be another blog entry.

On Sunday, there was a “Central Park Media Retrospective” panel. I hoped there would be clips of Slayers and MD Geist, but instead the panel was a fond farewell and a kind of tribute from former employees including Tom Wayland (a dub director who works with 4Kids now) and Justin Sevakis (who returned to Anime News Network). Peter Tatara, NYAF’s Programming Director, briefly stopped by the panel, since he is also former CPM employee. Because CPM’s headquarters were in New York, lots of former employees were in the audience.

I took enough notes on CPM for a separate post that I may never get around to writing, so I’ll mention the most important part here: the rights to Utena are really complicated, that’s why no one has picked it up. Wayland was surprised no one had acquired the show, and Sevakis said, “It’s complicated, I’ll tell you later.”

In a typical NYAF moment Yoruichi Shihōin dances with Spiderman and a Chicken with a boom box:

This was the last New York Anime Festival before the con rolls back into being part of New York Comic Con. I’m not particularly sad about losing the con as a separate entity. If anything, it will be slightly more convenient for fans, dealers, industry and press to make the trek out to the Javits Center only once per year.

s-NYAF 2009 for OUsA - 14As Gia Manry said on the Blogger Roundtable panel on Saturday night – there’s nothing wrong with NYAF or NYCC, it’s just that Javits is annoying. The food is incredibly expensive ($2.25 for a banana) and it’s not really near any hotels. I totally agree – even though I live in NYC, the Javits Center is irritatingly far from the nearest subway line. The nearest restaurants are at least a 15-20 minute walk, which wouldn’t be so bad, but I usually end up carrying a lot of heavy things to and from the convention. After the first two NYCCs I gave up on using the Javits expensive coat check, which closes before the convention does.

I might like NYAF better if I wasn’t spoiled by Anime Boston. Both cons are about the same size, but AB has a much better location, near all kinds of food and public transit. The fan panels are better, and the AMV contest is more competitive. The Artist Alley tables at AB are cheap, but sell out in 30 seconds, whereas the NYAF Artist tables cost $200 and don’t sell out at all  (it’s really hard to make back that amount of money in the Alley). Since Boston is about four hours away many of the same people go to both conventions. The major difference is that more anime and manga companies attend NYAF, so it’s better for industry events.

Anime Weekend Atlanta and Otakon are great for panels, AWA has great AMVs. NYAF has never been particularly memorable. All the NYAFs and NYCCs blend together in my head.