09/30/2008

“You Will Never Eat Tuna Casserole The Same Way”: The NY Anime Fest Part 2

by Matthew Hawkins

NOTE: Many pics ahead! More so than usual. Also, apologizes for the poor quality of most in general; one of the many things on my long list of stuff to do is to invest in a decent camera, at last.

UPDATE: Just added Hilary’s notes, wherever they’re applicapable…

Alright, where to being? Let’s kick things off with some pics of cosplayers of course!

Before going any further, I must reiterate Hilary’s points by stating that this year’s festival more or less blew away last year’s on pretty much every single level. First and foremost, the fans came out in full force, and dressed to impress, as well as to party, right from the get-go. I myself couldn’t be there for most of Friday, due to several pressing matters that kept me chained to the computer all morning and afternoon (which I’m still pissed about, but that’s for another time), though Hilary was, so these first couple pics are from her.

Day One: Among Other Things, Anime Parliament

Every anime convention needs cute girls dressed up as their favorite anime or video game character. I myself am not the biggest Final Fantasy fan in the world, but I certainly don’t mind it when you have giving life to male characters that are already pretty girly to being with…

Actually, one of the main reasons why last year’s fest was damn near dead was the time of year, and the temperatures that come with it: December. So when you combine the “its no longer summer, yet its still pretty warm at times” weather of September, and how one of the hottest characters right now, from Gurren Lagann dressed pretty skimpy, you get the following…

Hilary: Oh that I wish all the Yokos could have lined up for one big picture. The best part of a character seeing an influx in cosplay popularity is the range of costume construction. The good, the bad, the less than flattering choice for your body type- all gold as far as I’m concerned.

And of course, you gotta have your Lolitas…

Hilary: I must give credit to the lolis who wear black dresses. They’re my favorite but I have yet to see a convention picture that really does justice to their detail in their cloths. Unless you the right photographing conditions, black dresses seem to merge in to one unit.

As well as an old-school, boxy Transformers get-up…

Speaking of old-school, hey it’s Kamen Rider!

Back to video games, you almost always see Marios all over the place, but you hardly ever see a Wario…

And this dude as El Blaze from Virtua Fighter 5 was simply awesome, and just might have been my fave cosplayer from the entire fest…

His and her Rei Ayanamis…

Hilary: The Reis get extra points for choosing her alternate universe school uniform.

Then you had two girls dressed as members of Kiss? Okay…

Here we have not Iron Man, but Tony Stark. Subtle but very effective!

I saw two different Snake Eyes at the show, one a chubby fat dude whose swords kept knocking into people (including myself on at least three different occasions, one of which almost resulted in the loss of my $15 pulled pork sandwiches… again, any show at the Javitz sucks cuz the food options in the area is pretty much nonexistent) and the other was a dude that kinda acted like a real deal ninja. This guy is the latter…

I could normally not give two shits about YuGiOh, but this girls’ hair was simply phenomenal!

Hilary: It’s a bit hard to see, but the background kid in the red shirt is informing us via notebook paper that ‘You Lost the Game.’ Bummer.

One of the Friday afternoon panels that I really wanted to check out, but had to miss, was the Q&A with Masaharu Morimoto, aka Iron Chef Japan III, though Hilary once again was able to be there on my behalf…

Apparently I didn’t miss much. In the end, the festival’s weakest point was most definitely the panels; as Hilary has also already said, most of what we saw and heard, especially when it came to the Q&A’s suffered from a severe lack of preparation when it came to the moderators. In the case of the Morimoto Q&A, virtually nothing of real substance was asked, nor revealed. Though I would have to imagine it was still a thousand times more enjoyable than…

By the time I had finally arrived at the show, it was time for the one and only, I believe, game related of the entire weekend (outside of some Gaia Online member meet-up, which obviously is not in the realm of my interest). The topic was Kingdom Hearts, with the notion, or so I believe, a chance to talk about the series up till this point and discuss the possible future. The affair was run by two guys from some fan collective calling itself Disorganization 13. Never before had a name been so appropriate. Now, I’ve been to, as well as spoken at, numerous nerdy conventions, to the point that I’ve honestly lost trak, so the shock and annoyance factor when it comes to seeing a bunch of extremely proud nerds up there on a stage, hamming it, wasting everyone’s time, and basically having an ego trip at the expense of a crowd full of convention goers that paid good money of information and discourse as waned over the years. So stuff like the obligatory “I work in the industry” mention/brag (even though this particular person is actually stretching the truth, if not flat out lying, or the obligatory “you current crop of gamers SUCK!” quip, or the obligatory “You just got PWNED!” statement uttered in the real world, about six years when that phrase began to loose all its comedic significance, no longer really phases me. Nor the insane people in the crowd that tends to show up such things (I guess anyone who considers themselves a “fan” of Kingdom Hearts by definition is already crazy to begin with), such as that one dude that sits behind you and talks the entire time, but sounds as if he literally has marbles in his mouth, and isn’t with a friend or anything like that, or the one guy in the audience that absolutely has to mention that its their birthday when some game comes out, or the other guy in the audience that asks about something he just heard about on the internet, which is basically some bullshit fake that this poor person believes as undeniable fact. There were plenty of those types, that’s for certain.

My favorite would either have to be the really bored looking mom of the two girls that sat in-front of Hilary and I, or the really bored Sora that walked out halfway through, mostly out of frustration. The two Disorganization 13 dudes had virtually nothing to say; speaking as someone that’s done quite a few Q&A’s, one simply cannot rely on the audience to solely move everything forward, you gotta have some topics to touch upon, either to help the discussion moving along or simply as a back up plan for one’s self. Instead, and I don’t know how in the hell this happened, at a certain point the whole thing became some gay bashing affair. Which is doubly weird given that anime conventions are generally not the place for such things. Plus, you would think that out of anyone, diehard Kingdom Hearts fans would already recognize the massive amounts of gay subtext that is strewn about the series. I guess some of theses folks are denial or something? But anyhow, both the moderators and assorted members of the audience began to yell such things as “Kill the gays!” and it was beyond disturbing, like being in the middle of some angry mob. Not everyone was happy about this, a number of folks walked out, and one even vocalized it to the moderators, whose objection was quickly dismissed: “Hey, if that’s what you people want!” Quite a few other people in the audience unfortunately were all too happy to scream assorted flat out homophobic comments, including one big dude that also appeared to be kinda slow, in that Lenny in Of Mice And Men sorta way (who would actually be a real nuisance at other panels throughout the rest of the show). Anyhow, it could be argued that moderators simply gave what the people what they wanted, but that’s seriously a gigantic cop-out, and I can’t recall feeling so uncomfortable at a convention like that, ever. Hilary was also quite upset by the entire affair.

Afterwards was a panel that no one could figure out what it was about on paper, which I guess is what got me interested in the first place: it was anime parliament. And it worked liked this: anyone who had a grievance towards an anime would have to stand in front of the audience and state their case. Anyone who felt differently would also come to the front and act as the defendant. Both parties would go back and forth, stating their cases, with additional points coming from the audience, and in the end, a final judgment would be made, ending in a motion. Just like real parliament! First, the person in charge, in this case the judge, read off various presidents that had been established in previous sessions; apparently this has been going on for years now, at assorted anime cons throughout the country. They included…

- The new age of consent is 14, as determined by Gundam, Naruto, Last Exile, and a host of other shows.
- There shall be no death to those the court deems is worthy of punishment, but instead “plushy-fication.”
- Photoshop evidence is totally admissible, and actually encouraged.

… The first case was against the show InuYasha. One girl’s beef was how the show’s pivotal romantic plot just kept going and going and going. I was mostly impressed by the judge’s knowledge of anime and manga in general…. he brought up all these other examples, most of which went way over my head, or course. One person in the audience tried to defend the show’s formula, and ended up saying something about some character’s molecular structure… point being, there were definite hardcore anime NERDS in the room. But it was all good. Especially when someone spun whatever that was said and made some Andrew Dice Clay joke. Impressive!

The next case was in defense of Yagami Light, one of the primary characters in the manga Death Note. For those not familiar with the show, the guy basically gets his hands on a book from the demon world where, if you write anyone’s name, that person ends up dead. One dude, who happened to be one of the Disorganization 13 from before (ugh), stated that Light was not responsible for the deaths connected by him since they were all ultimately acts of a higher power (“What are we going to do, bring God up on charges?”), and I must admit, his initial argument seemed truly compelling and the whole anime parliament thing became all of a sudden extremely compelling and engrossing, as anime dorks tried their best at hardcore rhetoric and act like lawyers to entertaining effect. At least at first… people eventually came up some fairly valid counterpoints, but it was soon clear that the Disorganization 13 guy was just not listening and simply wanted to rob everyone of their time.

Afterwards, three very vocal, psychotic anime chicks hit the stage to argue more realism was needed in the world of manga and anime. They stated that they were sick of giant robots, unrealistic powers that characters wield, and the like as crutches for uncreative writing and the such. Which, not surprisingly, got the girls massive boos from the audience. The three girls also stated that they agreed with the previous person’s assertion that Yagami Light was not guilty of his crimes, and then noted a murder he was guilty of involving someone’s neck being slashed an a very long arterial spray as a result, either to support their original argument that such a thing could never happen, or to connect it to not being real enough for an actual human to be the cause. This point lead to another girl to go up front and state that, in fact, such a lengthy spray (50 feet) is actually possible. The leader of the three said she was full of shit, so the objector shot back with “It’s been proven, go read a medical book.” which immediately got a unified “OOHH!!!” from everyone. Ultimately, the case was thrown out.

Other cases followed, such as how parents of children who run away to have adventures should be punished for being poor parents, though in the end, the charges were waved because the kids, despite being in a state of risk, are often able to grow as a result of being in grand adventures, that are also really fun for them and sometimes helps the world. “Digimon is a standard example!” was pointed out by the judge, who at this point was kinda scaring me by how serious he took the entire affair. Though I also laughed when one of the folks up there helping him was a Harry Potter cosplayer who got cut off, when led him to say “Ginny, you were saying.”. Oh, and for some reason, the other dude helping out tried to use me as an example of someone who might be put to death because of my choice of clothing, and even I still don’t know what the hell that was about. I tried to defend myself and go for some kind of verbal tit for tat, but that failed big time. But ultimately, it was a pretty fascinating hour, and has given me some ideas of my own for next year’s ICON….

Afterwards was a panel about the upcoming releases from Kitty Media, an imprint of Media Blasters that’s all about yaoi for the American audience. The person presenting it was the guy in charge, I guess, and pretty much said everything said in the first two minutes. The rest of the hour was watching him struggling to fill time. But at least it was revealed that Maka Maka, a pretty fantastic Yuri title according to Hilary, is on its way. EDIT: Hilary just passed me along a few chapters from the untranslated original version, and holy shit, it is hawt

… Plus it afforded me the chance to run into Andrew Yoon, who I normally know from his beat over at PSP and PS3 Fanboy, who was covering the show for some other publication. Oh, and Hilary ended up winning a prize. I forget what it was called, but it was something totally ridiculous, as most manga about boys sucking each other off tend to be.

Despite how disappointing the Kitty Media panel ended up being, I managed to convince Andrew and Hilary that the following All About Yaoi panel would be much better, mostly because Abby Denson was running it. And she did not disappoint! It was a pretty informative hour that also had plenty of visual aides (thank God)…

… I believe that’s from a manga called Dog Style, and as noted “Dog Style is pretty interesting, because there’s lots of dog talk.” I also recall Abby making some joke with the punch line being “Fisting of the North Star”.

Hilary: Dear Matt, I know as a manly dude you may not be privy to the subtle differences in yaoi manga, but the photo you’ve got is from the page turner called ‘Family.’ It’s the heart warming story of two brothers who have a crush on their third, adopted brother. Instead of tearing the family apart with vying affections they decide to work together. Aww.

Anyway, Hilary once again won a prize! Lucky girl. Afterwards, the two of us, along with Andrew and Ada, a friend of Hilary’s that works for Publisher’s Weekly, all hit K-town for some fine Korean dining. Surprisingly, there was no karaoke involved. Oh well. We had a big day ahead of us anyway.

Day Two: Aiko, Canada’s First Sexy Android

The day began with me overhearing two kids talking about the Presidential debates from the previous evening as we all waited for the Gurren Lagann panel to start. Like everyone else, they couldn’t wait for the VP debate this coming Thursday, mostly to see Sarah Palin make an even bigger fool of herself than she already had. These two 15 year boys ran down all the reasons why she should not be one heart beat away from the Presidency (and not to divert into politics, but as previously mentioned, as much as I abhor Joe Biden, and am almost incensed that NO ONE talks about his extremely questionable track record, he at least believes in dinosaurs, I think, and is a far better speaker than Palin, who will more than like make the debate feel like a public execution, which I too am eager to witness), which ended with “Plus she’s a woman.”

I was expecting to see Hilary cosplaying as whatever the heck she was at Otakon (the name escapes me) but there apparently wasn’t enough time (which was also the same excuse from Andrew, who was going to be some guy, I believe named Matt, from Death Note that appears for all but five panels before getting killed). Anyhow, the panel, like most of those the day prior offered very little of substance. I was hoping to hear some behind the scenes tidbits, or perhaps even a few production notes, should as the history of the show or learn about its development, but the American producer was extremely tight-lipped about almost anything, especially when one person asked about a rumor that someone at Gainax walked out on the show during episode 4 because of creative differences. Instead, it was just people asking the three American voice actors from the show saying assorted lines from other shows, much to the chagrin of producer guy. At least they showed a blooper reel, which was fun yet way too short, and we did learn that us Americans will be getting the completely uncensored 6th episode which was edited for Japanese television (and American I believe, can’t say since I don’t have Sci Fi) on DVD later this fall.

Afterwards it was time to hit the show floor for more picture opportunities! First of the day was this “sexy” Pikachu…

This dude’s Robot Chicken was pretty impressive, and his robot chicken actually sprayed deodorant, which given the venue, would be invaluable later on. Too bad he accidentally sprtized Hilary right in the face as she passed by…

Once again, there were plenty of Marios, but I find them boring, though I never get tired of Links…

… Mostly because girls look pretty decent in such garb…

Speaking of Smash Bros, here’s Fox…

And Mister Game and Watch!

As well as some dude or girl walking around on their knees to keep Kirby’s height accurate…

Not to dwell on game characters, specifically Nintendo ones (though as I continue to put the zine together, I am keeping my eyes out on such folks specifically), there was a “maid cafe” which was basically a bunch of maids at the front of the back-end snack area directing folks which line is the hot dog line and which is the funnel cake like, as well as answering questions in a very friendly, “maid-like” manner. Anyhow, these three were all Pokemoned-out…

So what con would be complete with tons of useless crap to blow money on! Here’s a shot of some dealer selling assorted Japanese flicks. I had to fight the urge to pick up Meatball Machine…

Though in addition to DVDs, a few folks were still peddling VHS tapes for dirt cheap. Here’s something Hilary spotted that neither of us have even come close to hearing or remembering about…

Here of course is the obligatory table of nothing but yaoi…

And for the dudes, just around the corner, you could get a some blankets with animu chicks on them (I believe its the same creepy guy selling the same basic stuff from Otakon)…

This girl was waving that sign and dancing in place to Daft Punk the entire weekend if felt like…

In addition to game related cosplayers, I was also eager to snap pictures of game related shirts, and this one was one of the better Portal-centric shirts I came across…

Though I was most impressed with this merging of Feel The Magic and Haruhi Suzumiya…

Meanwhile is at least kinda cute. With the emphasis on the word “kinda”…

They’re certainly not in the realm of gaming, but these shirts featuring pin-up girls with a Cold War flavor certainly were nice…

There were a few proper video games to be found as well, though pickings were most certainly slim. Here’s a copy of Slap Happy Rhythm Busters, which basically takes Jet Set Radio and makes it a fighter for the PSone, that’s long been a favorite of mine, and while I would have jumped at the chance to finally own an actual copy, the asking price for this very much used copy was pretty nuts…

Another staple of any anime con was the artist alley, which seemed a tad bit more bustling than last year’s graveyard, which I’m sure Hilary can elaborate upon, since that’s where she was in the trenches (and hence why she didn’t bother to get a table this time around). The strangest personality to be found was this guy…

… That’s Ryusuke Hamamoto, a prominent illustrator in Japan whose work any savvy Japanophile has no doubt seen. He was selling a number of collections of his work, plus doing sketches for a few bucks (I totally would have forked over a $20 for a headshot, but I was in desperate need of a haircut… still do actually). Why this guy wasn’t part of the guest-list doing panels or working a workshop is definitely one of the bigger mysteries of the entire con.

Back to pics of people in costume! Since I love out of character shots, here’s Doremon on a cellphone…

Here we have Jack Skellington taking a pic of some dude (or girl) dressed as something Miyazaki related… I forget what though…

And here’s a better shot…

It?s a Power Ranger with Jesus!

The I guess it works award goes to these two dudes as Shadow and Sonic. I was many folks wearing those same silly caps, though the waft of hair on Shadow’s chest is what made me want a pic. I guess I should Photoshop a Chaos Emerald in his hand, like I promised I would, but I’m kinda busy right now, so maybe later…

And for creepiest here we have a pair of Anti-Soras (or maybe one of them is Anti-Riku… sorry, but I’m not super familiar with Kingdom Hears) that constantly had a steady stream of hot and bothered girls wanting to take pictures of them…

These two girls were simply sitting there in the middle of the show floor, and constantly getting their pictures taken, for a solid four hours…

Though by far my favorite paring had to be these two…

Hey, it?s Diddy Kong!

As well as another personal fave of mine, MSG’s Meryl Silverburg…

Here’s a pair of girls from Eureka Seven….

And I have no idea who the heck these two are supposed to be, but I totally dug the girl on the left’s very elaborate outfit…

Perhaps the strangest curiosity on the showroom floor was Aiko, an Android from Canada. Hilary had seen her in action while was out scoping stuff out, so when we rendezvoused, she simply had to show me the insanity. Unfortunately, there were some technical difficulties that were being worked out at the moment…

… I was encourage to take a closer look, basically to see if she/it was wearing any panties…

… You can’t tell from the picture, but the answer was no!

TO BE CONTINUED

  • Kirk

    Wow dude, I found your blog looking for info on Disorganization 13, and boy did you have a messed up version of the story! I was at the panel and I talked to the guys there, and one of them is an out gay. Also, I’ve read some of the stuff Angelo from Disorganization 13 did for gaming websites. Here’s a link to the stuff he did for TCG player: http://www.tcgplayer.com/db/article_search_result.asp?author=Angelo%20M.%20D%20Argenio

    Really dude, fact check your stuff.

  • http://www.fort90.com Matt

    Sorry for belated response. Hope you didn’t think I was ignoring you. Anyhow, all I can say is… just head straight for the comments section:

    http://www.fort90.com/journal/?p=700

  • http://groups.yahoo.com/group/animeparliament Adam H.

    Thanks for the great review of Parliament! I’m glad you enjoyed yourself, and I hope to see you at future sessions. I’ll work on my program guide description too, I didn’t realize it was confusing to people.

  • http://www.fort90.com Matt

    I have to tell you Adam, one of my biggest regrets at Otakon 2009 was missing Anime Parliament there. Are you going to be at the New York Anime Fest again, later this year? If so, I’ll make damn sure not to miss it!

  • http://groups.yahoo.com/group/animeparliament Adam H

    Sorry, i never realized you commented here. lol

    As far as parliament for 2010: AnimeNEXT, Otakon, AnimeUSA, NYAF and possibly one or two others. Feel free to drop me a line through the Parliament Yahoo group if you have any other questions :)

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