Otaku USA Magazine
Notes from Nippon: Tokyo Anime Fair 2010


You would think having an event devoted entirely to anime smack dab in the epicenter of Japanese pop culture would be more exciting. You’d think.

In all honesty, I wasn’t looking forward to visiting Tokyo Anime Fair this year. Last year’s was something of a disappointment for a guy armed only with a public pass and no interest in licensing a show or five. Outside of discovering a few shows I hadn’t given much thought to such as Eden of the East, it all smacked of San Diego Comic-Con’s rampant commercialism without any of the fan input and interaction that keeps it exciting. This year wasn’t much different.
m-DSC_0092Oh sure, there are a few scattered events and voice actor interviews, but between the large crowds and the general vapidness of public press events, there’s little to thrill anyone who happens to have an Internet connection.
What I’m saying is that I missed the Gaiking panel with director Jules Urbach on Sunday.

At least I didn’t miss the teaser for that movie, which has been making the rounds on the blog circuit, bringing immense joy tempered with skepticism. It played back-to-back with the extended-length trailer for the CG Captain Harlock which looks to be a rollicking good time, despite some typos and strained English voice-acting. By taking such a cross-pacific approach, the studios seem dead-set on having these hit the mainstream because certainly the long-suffering anime market could use the money. Yet, for all the good will, given Asia’s tarnished history with co-productions with an eye for the international market, I fear that these projects might go the way of South Korea’s D-War and Yonggary.

A perhaps safer approach some studios are taking is following Hollywood’s path by going to stereoscopic 3D to stay afloat. Ironically, or perhaps aptly, the big scene-stealer in the fair wasn’t an anime at all. Instead, it was the tokusatsu actionfest Garo: Red Requiem, Keita Amemiya’s (Zeiram) theatrical take on his 2006 TV series Garo. Even those such as myself who haven’t taken the time to watch the series will have plenty to look forward to. The lengthy, generously action-packed preview featured all sorts of goodies that will have yours truly in line come later this year when it’s expected to debut.

With little sign of its terrible numbers last year, Gonzo was showing off 3D-converted scenes from Last Exile and Blassreiter in effort to show some signs of life despite not having a single new show on display. Surprisingly, Gonzo didn’t bother to put any of its magic onto its naughty Mahjong serial Saki. With the countless commando shots of girls in mini-skirts bending over, it’d be a sure-fire hit in 3D in spite of the predictable increase in neck strain across the country.

m-DSC_0078Fortunately (to some), some lesser-known outfits were more than willing to pick up the slack. One company had a particularly eye-popping demo, consisting of little more than a curvaceous gal dressed in a skin-tight cat suit slowly walking down as the camera rotated around her. I may not know much about this new-fangled 3D-thing, but the smart money is on Pink Pineapple making some valuable investments in the near future. Depth to the picture if not to the art.

Overall, this year’s TAF was a more enjoyable if much more restrained affair than last. The booths were smaller, crowds reduced and even the booth babes just weren’t what they seemed to be last time. However, with the various 3D displays, there was a little throwback to what usually makes these things so much fun: the sense of seeing something that you can’t physically get anywhere else. This 3D thing has yet to prove itself, but, until the technology gets more widely spread, it may be the best shot we’ve got. At least until they build me my life-size Arcadia.

Fernando Ramos is a Japan correspondent for Otaku USA. A fan of all things Japan since fatefully renting Project A-Ko at the tender age of 12, he finally managed to pack his bags and move to the Saitama area in 2008, where he has been living ever since and has not yet regretted it. His photography from around the country can be found on his flickr site. He also is Editor-in-Chief of Anime3000.com and screenwriter for the tokusatsu webseries Battle Hero Absolute.


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