The con intersected a tropical storm on Friday. Thankfully things cleared up mostly by Saturday morning so the grass, despite still full with moisture, didn’t give into muddy slides. And this is important at AnimeNEXT 2013.
Since its relocation to the Doubletree / Garden State Expo Center right before the anime bubble burst, it’s got a lot of grassy gnolls and alcoves for photographs. In fact, down the road from the con, there’s this place called the “Palace” where large halls are rented out for elaborate weddings (and wedding photography) and other events. (Like the NJ State Bar Exam.) In other words, it’s great location for cosplay photography.
In exchange, the location is pretty horrible for the usual hall cosplay photography since there really isn’t a large, open and centralized area unlike, say, the water fountain area at the BCC or the main lobby at the LACC. It’s hard to find where everyone is. Even Animazement has the front lobby area, and its glass-y construction means you can see both the indoors and outdoors areas easily, increasing its effective size. At Anext, there is actually a place where cosplayers congregate, which is to one side of the Doubletree, by the so-called red docks. But it’s like, way to the side and you wouldn’t even know where to look unless you knew.
The blurb about cosplay is just so you guys know why I was there: take cosplay photos, and write about Sayo Yamamoto and Hiroshi Shimizu.
Shimizu is a veteran animator. He has a lot of key animator credits, but from what I can gleam during the two sessions I was there with him (who accompanied Yamamoto basically at all their events, neither had a solo thing) he mainly picked up the slacks from a lot of the bigger productions. And this guy is really an animator in the industry sense of the term, as he crunched out some genga during one of the panels while we did Q&A. He averages maybe a sheet every 250 seconds or some such. (As an aside this is why Hirosh Nagahama can sketch for everyone during his autograph sessions at AZ, like Shimizu at ANext.)
I got Lupin on a shikishi, can’t really ask for more than that…although I could’ve asked for, say, a Michiko instead. Sayo Yamamoto is, well, a bit stereotypical artist-y Asian woman. I think she’s probably just slightly younger than I am. Despite being talented I think she’s still got a lot of ropes to learn in the industry, so to speak. There’s not a lot to say, Shimizu is quiet but articulate when speaking, and Yamamoto is a bit flighty. The interpreters were not too helpful but it was what it was, nothing I haven’t seen before since the conversations can get down to the nitty gritty.
The only real takeaway is that Yamamoto is working on a new thing and it should be pretty cool. And somehow she is a fan of Yakushimaru Etsuko, which is to the surprise of no one.
The rest of the time at ANext I hung out with @7thwraith and his friends. Lots of words were spoken, jokes cracked, good times. I learned a lot about ANext cosplay culture that I never was interested in but am kind of now. There needs to be more Producers, surely. Since these guys are local to me, this is possibly some exciting news, who knows?
This is probably the first time I ate at the con for con food, the whole time. Actually, mostly in the Doubletree because the hotel had at least real food for prices that aren’t outrageous. Because parking is a pain, kind of. One of these days I’ll just go to Mamoun’s on my own, and I can possibly claim having been to all three locations!
We ran into some random Makoto-P who was volunteering at the con. It was kind of amusing. Also kind of strange interacting with people who just do it differently. I guess that’s just how it goes. I also ran into most of the rest of the guys I always see at the local East Coast events. Ed’s industry panel was pretty much just unhinged. One margarita was all you need man. I said hi to EJ, who is someone new to this scene, for sure. There was no new announcement at the Aniplex panel, but I guess that’s to be expected. Man, imagine if you’re this Cali guy and work sent you to a con in New Jersey! I have way more sympathy for him than the Texans.
Yamamoto and Shimizu’s autograph session gave away these Fujiko Mine anime posters if you wanted something to get signed by. The 4 scribbles? Moon Stream baby!
Also, Doujin Press was there. Pretty snazzy.