Monthly Archives: July 2014

Gnashing Teeth on North American Anime Con Guests Announcing

It’s about three weeks to Otakon, and Otakon still has one guest to announce for their Sunday music showcase. For those of you unfamiliar with North America’s second largest anime convention (boasting probably close to 35000 unique attendees for this year), in recent years Otakon employed their main events each day in this way: Friday night features a concert, Saturday night features the masquerade, and Sunday afternoon the second concert. For the 20th Otakon they did things differently by doing a concert on Saturday instead of Friday so they can reinstate the MST3K event that Otakon used to do, but that was just for last year. Also, it made renting the Baltimore’s First Mariner Arena more feasible.

Again, it’s about three weeks to Otakon. As mentioned before ALTIMA is Otakon’s Friday guest. We have no idea who will be for Sunday yet. Three weeks is a magical period of time because of how the airline industry works. Booking too close to the date of the event and you will be paying out of your nose, and there are rarely any deals closer than 21 days prior. That’s not to mention availability of flights. So yeah, good luck, west coast bros.

The great thing about Otakon is that the management knows this. In fact it’s not just them. Knowing however is only half the battle. It is all too common with multi-party negotiations though, that if working with these third parties things invariably can get drawn out and delayed. Japan will take its time. There might be something unexpected that delay the process, who knows. What makes Otakon slightly better, in my estimates, compared to others, is how they work to avoid these issues that comes with the process. Because knowing means you can try to mitigate these external factors. Emphasis here is try.

Because, let’s face it, these things happen all the time. I’m grateful for the opportunities these large or mid-size cons provide, to make a concerted effort and bring over Japanese guests who worked on anime or what not. But in the end it’s these little things that distinguishes a great con from just a good con. It’s the difference between being able to meet one hardcore JP fan at the con versus a dozen of them. It’s the difference between going to a con or not going to a con for me, if it’s not a con already on my agenda that year.

As someone who had a jolly time hanging out with said JP fans at AN and Acen this year, it makes a difference to me. I guess it’s just something that can’t be helped. But is it? I think it can, even if it is very difficult. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the enjoyment of fans going to a con directly hinges on the competencies of the con management. I’m just numerating a clear example of it. Some things might matter more or less to some people. Some might not matter at all to just about no one. I wonder if you’ve got a group of experienced con managers (like Otakon has in the past few years), this is one way they can iteratively level-up how they run a con and squeeze that last drop of enjoyment from the whole endeavor. And since JP guests cost so much resources to bring over, why not maximize the experience for the fans who enjoy the guests? Go all the way.

But then again you still have the situation we’re seeing today. It’s three weeks till Otakon. Do you know where your guests are?

PS. On the flip side, Otakon hotel cancellation deadline is Friday, so if they announce the music guest Thursday and it’s a hit for you, you might have a shot at getting hotel space. Hotel space is likely not the most important item for attendees, but it’s probably second most important for a lot of people.

Aldnoah.Zero Wins Round One

I haven’t sampled everything this summer season but I think I’m at a point where I can comfortably say I’m ready to take my picks and go on. Part of this is thanks to not having to worry about 2 noitaminA shows, because of the double-length Psycho-Pass rerun. Part of this also has to do with how FUNimation’s picks this season whiffs everything except The One Show Every Season They License That I Must Watch, so there isn’t any chaff like Daimidaler or Soul Eater Not where the fact that I have negotiate their services put enough of a strain on my attention span that I end up dropping them. [Free S2 completely whiffs at episode 1. It turned into K-ON except with guys and…sorry. Give me some Koushien story please. Oh, there’s Tokyo ESP I suppose, which is in limbo but…]

It’s easy to see why I take a liking to Aldnoah.Zero. It’s got the rich SF background, it takes plot progression seriously, with a lot of mind paid to tension and emotional response. Amamiya Sora is icing on the cake (I think she’s getting hype specially in P circles, but also in general now). Ohara drives a mecha? When’s the last time that happened? Wait, don’t tell me Sidonia. Well the real reason is it pushed all my Nadesico buttons.

At any rate, that’s just the prereq. Butch lays it on thick Gargantia-style here with the setup. This time it’s a lot more palatable as someone who at least got to episode 5 of Senkou no Night Raid. Joking aside, there’s enough to the series that I want to see how the setting and theme play out. The pacing/plot being enjoyable enough is what keeps me awake, I guess.

Ami looking like Ami from Million Lewd. Million Live I mean.

Speaking of which, I was surprised Hamayamata keeps me awake because it’s pretty dull other than the eye-jabbingly prismatic visuals. I mean that in the best possible way. I rewatched episode one a couple times and it just looked so hyperrealistic in that fancy, let-us-pour-all-the-filters kind of way that it feels out of place. I would be lying if I didn’t enjoy Yaya being not-Kaya and Hana being from scenic New Jersey, though. Can’t wait for Nu’s character. More seriously, it channels a little of Chihayafuru in the feels, and I can’t wait to see what that means in a dance…club sense.

I didn’t expect to enjoy Akame ga Kill, but I did. Another Amamiya Sora show! But this one is clearly a notch down. Could be fun if it has more of a setting to play off of.

I want to like Argevollen, but it is turning out to be the perfect foil to 08th MS Team. As if you ever wanted to see an example of a crap squad mecha anime, there you go. At least do us the favor and make the main character as chill as the ones from Gunparade March or something. Really wanted to like it but it is basically in every way a subset of shows like Aldnoah.Zero … or Sidonia. Minus the KOTOKO.

Glasslip…Satojun takes on Nagiasu? I don’t know what to expect but I’m sure I’ll enjoy the hell out of it. That said, so far it’s a little snoozy. The whole super power bit is a little vague. It’s okay to get started this quickly but I wish we had a little more time to get comfy with the cast first.

Locodol is another show that I thought would be trash but is turning out pretty okay. Kind of wish we can swap Naru from Hanayamata with the protagonist here. I would probably dig this show a lot more if it was as long as Yama no Susume 2. It’s not, which means now it has to have some kind of plot to carry over 15 minutes.

Nozaki-kun is like the shoujo anime that isn’t. I can’t really say I like it because the humor doesn’t work for me as much, but it helps that the MCs are both tsukkomi. Maybe girls like that? Anyways while the concept is intriguing it is pressing all the wrong buttons for me. Can’t fault it for pressing buttons but maybe it’s just not for me.

Rail Wars is the one show this season where I like everything except the actual story here. I love the depiction of faux-real world Tokyo Station or the Japanese attitude about customer service. I like how there are real trains in the anime, down to the last bolt or screw. Unfortunately the rest is sort of bad. Bad in a way where I’d rather go and rewatch parts of Tenchi Muyo? I guess.

Ao Haru Ride is going to be pretty cool in that we finally get Mayayan in a proper shoujo protagonist role. She deserves it. I wish I can say more than that though; just not my kind of thing and when I watch shows like this I get all old fogie like, “Why can’t shows today be like Karekano good”? Maybe this Otaking rant has something in the making of.

Sabagebu is okay. I watched one episode and it was largely forgettable, but it’ll probably be fun enough to keep me up to 3.

I want to try one episode of Love Stage but I’m not that bored yet. Bladedancer could be interesting, and it doesn’t have that “yet another Nobunaga thing” stigma attached, so I might try that at some point.

The new Encouragement of Climb anime is great, but I feel it’s too long.

I watched the Tokyo Zombie live action movie some years back. It was a riot. I hope Tokyo Ghoul is at least around the same level. Somehow I doubt it.

I looked at the 2ch matome posts for Momo Kyun Sword. I had enough.

How can I go back to OFA at this rate? Hopefully by dropping half of the above. I still have 4 more idols to unlock!

PS. None of this really shakes the fact that Zankyou no Terror might still be the best show of the season, but so far there’s not enough data to make that call. Rather than calling it a win for Aldnoah, it’s more like a personal victory for Aldnoah that it did not crash and burn in the pack before it thinned out. It’s almost like watching NASCAR for the car crashes.

PPS. I’m sure to watch more show not mentioned thus far this season. I also owe myself a Puchimas catch-up after my Sidonia catch-up.

PPPS. I’m digging Cap’n Earth a lot more since they switched gears with exploring all the other designer children stuff. ED2 is awesome. Ace is slowing down as expected; finally getting to see baldie pitch should lift spirits. And I omitted the other continuations that I’ll surely catch too, like Illya and Ai Mai Mii… Goes to show how great Encouragement of Climb is.

Anime Expo 2014: Wrap

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was great that I had a blast at AX, but this is probably the worst AX that I’ve attended, and probably the worst AX in a long while. And given AX’s reputation for the screw, that says a lot.

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Wota Life, North America 2014 Version


As I try to get a grip on the AX wrap for the year I have to confront the reality that is in front of me. Truth is, if you told me 8 months ago that Yumi Hara, Altima, [TBD2], Angela, WUG, Marina Inoue, Saori Hayami, Ami Koshimizu, Ai Nonaka, KOTOKO, Elisa, Yui Ishikawa, Mai Goto, Ryouka Yuzuki, Halko Momoi, Babymetal are coming to the US and Canada, I would be like LOL you are drunk. It also didn’t help that I went to Japan in February and got entirely hosed into the Producerhood of Idolm@stery, so even people like Tsukigami Luna and Toshifumi Akai can generate big time feels for me. And I mean, who are they? Sushio was the sakkan for episode 17 (AKA Makoto episode) of Anim@s? The what?

The fact is this is just pain for the DD. A lot of these guys are great but are only going to attract people who are scenesters or just like a lot of things. The WUG-chans, for example, voiced just a handful of things among all of them. I-1 Club will win every time if they held those voting things at American cons, even if they too are more or less current-gen or upcoming voice acting talents. Yui Ishikawa marks a point where Titan really puncture the mainstream discourse, but besides that most anime con-goers don’t even know what else she has done. It’s standard fare for seiota. But then on the other hand  you have the Hayamins or Amisukes of the seiyuu world, the kind of guests that you only expect to see twice a year–between AX and Otakon, really–because there are so few anime cons that deal seiyuu to begin with, and there are so many seiyuu to choose from.

But this has been an abundantly blessed year for the North American idol/seiota/aniota complex. And I didn’t even list old timers like the Gundam dudes (Ikeda-san!) at Animazement or Morita at AX.

There’s value to be a DD, and there’s value to be someone who is more devoted to the causes of a few (or just one)–basically you can survive such a wonderful but harsh convention schedule. The value of doing all these things is that it’s incredibly fun, but I can understand why it’s sometimes good to hold back and just stew at home about not being able to go to these things.

That being said, who knows what remaining cons will bring over as guests? And I’m already looking at 2015 with a weary eye, partly with IM@S 10th on the horizon.

Wonder if there will be JP fans coming to chill out with Hayamin at Otakon? There was an Aoi Eir fan that came just for her, and sat right behind me. He went pretty nuts given the number of times he hit me LOL. Would be cool to do an offkai again!

Anime Expo 2014: Days 0-3

Ami & Yuzunee

This AX I’m just going to ignore the fact it’s disappointingly thin guest-wise with the fact that it really actually is packed full of people from Japan who are interesting to see in person. It’s like seeing Mikatan in person along with the president of uhh Native, and seeing them asking a fellow P which boob size he prefers. That guy happened to be an Amimami P so you can figure that out from there.

There are other things like this. Hiro Takeuchi is with Yamakan again and Yamakan’s panel is actually just a WUG panel. Which makes sense, he’s sold out to the IP. It’s like seeing yourself in the videos Hiro took during the Acen concert as they play snips of it for the panel.

We had a P dinner with Luna Tsukigami and he’s a pretty cool Miki P with the stuff to back it up. We had also a Miki cosplayer doing some major assists.

Traveling to AX this year is new because somehow I got in a rental car. Day 0 was kind of impromptu because we hung out with new guys this time around and it’s delicious as usual. Food-wise there was a dimsum meal snuck in there and it was great.

I thought I did a balance of hanging out in groups, in small groups or large, by myself, and doing press. I kind of wished I did more press but it just wasn’t meant to be.

Of all the premieres at AX, I was looking forward the most to Ninja Slayer. But that clashed with the focus panel with Yuzu-nee and Amisuke. Originally I was going to sneak out half way from the seiyuu panel and go to NS, but Yuzu-nee/Amisuke’s panel was way more awesome than it had any rights to be and I forgot about Ninja Slayer. If you saw Amisuke’s Tokyo Encounter episode, it’s kind of like that except Yuzu-nee and Amisuke are both high tension boke-types, and there’s no Sugita to bring them down. Safe to say it’s up there in terms of seiyuu panel quality.

We did talk to a guy who attended Ninja Slayer panel and it sounded just like any other Wakabayashi-level panel. Yeah, he was here to present it. I scored a throwaway poster and well, it’ll be in the loot shot if I can put it in my luggage.

If I had to score my AX in terms of what I accomplished, in the category of the Exhibit Hall, I totally failed. Saturday was my first day where I had time to actually roam the room, but it’s mad packed and felt like hellish. I just went from event to event. Like, there was a IM@S and Love Live battle event at the Daisuki booth which was luls. I should’ve cosplayed Kuniyoshi if I knew it was happening.

I probably didn’t score very high on autographs too. Missed Butch, only got Trigger once. Did score the big one with Yuzu-nee and Amisuke though. Yamakan…well. I got a Miyu sticker out of it? Bonus would be seeing Uki Satake and getting an autographed board from Minami prez.

Well, I’ll take a break and think about it some more for the wrap.