AnimeNEXT 2018: Wrap

I went to AC to hang out with friends, distribute goods, and go attend a con. It was a tad tough because I only landed back in the States the Monday before, so I had to quickly repack and unpack, maybe not in that order. Still, it was a fun time.

AnimeNEXT this year was pretty low key. They brought two usual guests from the music side, and only a couple notable production guests in Aramaki and Kamiyama, the GITS/Patlabor duo. All Off is the standard anisong-tie-in rock band at ANext, and Kawano Marina is an Anisong Grand Prix winner who is still doing it after a management switch.

Yeah, I know of Kawano, but I never latched on to her back-when fledging career beyond A-Channel and the handful of songs she got tied into with other Sony/Aniplex properties. Now she’s with Dearstage the record label. I guess it is what it is, and ANext is a chance to learn about all that.

This year, ANext felt like last year, as in there isn’t a notable increase in attendance. It in fact felt almost more empty than last year. I know fewer of my friends came because there just wasn’t a draw for us. I don’t know if that applies across the board. The Atlantic Midwest and southern New England region is not short on small-time, inexpensive nerd proms and other cons, so maybe that played as a factor. Just the number of times I heard “Colossalcon” during the past weekend is enough of a note.

Leading up to ANext I did look up Kawano, and I remember/relearned how big of a baseball nerd she was. She wanted to see a major league game, and she got that as ANext had her off touring NYC Friday, catching a historic Subway Series game between the NYY and NYM at Citi Fields. Moreover, it was Masahiro Tanaka’s start, which made this one twenty-something baseball fan joyous, as Tanaka posted during her high school years? Damn that was a long time ago. She said she cried when the news came, because Ma-kun was the key to a rag-tag Rakuten Eagles in 2012? I guess. By the way, that she gets to see such a game is pretty much falling just short of a miracle alignment of a billion moving pieces. The Japanese guests going to AX trying to get a glimpse of two-way Major League import Ohtani will miss out because he’ll be on the DL well into July if not longer, as an example.

During her concert slash panel we talked about this kind of stuff. There were a fair amount of questions about baseball, such as how someone asked if she felt high school pitchers in Japan pitched too much. Her answer was actually very good, and reflects a lot. Definitely passes for baseball nerd.

I actually didn’t get down to the con until about 8pm on Friday, so I missed out on a lot of the activities that day. I also drove down to AC from Central NJ with the top down to enjoy the nice weather, but unfortunately that massively triggered my pollen allergies so I spent a good chunk of the weekend wheezing out bodily fluid and coughing. It’s a little too early in the year I guess, or tree pollen hasn’t fully settled yet. Anyways, I was able to watch the same Subway Series game on TV, and see Tanaka leg out a short sac fly that put him into the disable list subsequently.

Not sure what there is to say. I wish I had more time to talk to folks. Missed Otabrew. There were panels that I wanted to see but didn’t. I did end up in All Off’s concert Saturday night, and it was pretty okay. It’s the usual 1-hour sort of deal. Same with Marina’s on Sunday morning.

The dealer room for ANext was like last year–fairly modest but complete. It had this weird config where you have to exit through the back of the dealer’s room and into the game room. The area is badge-controlled of course, but it was an odd way to leave the space. The game room had that one company who has all the rhythm game cabinets and them Gundam Pods? I was actually part of a group who was contributing to the game room so I was in it pretty late at night helping friends set up when someone pulled the fire alarm in the ACCC.

Yeah, someone pulled the fire alarm in the ACCC at like 12:30 past midnight. I don’t know who, but I hope they caught whoever it was. While nothing important was ruined, I lost my chance at no-line Gundam Pod at a con, as there were literally no line on Friday night at this con. I also wanted to play Taiko, but there was only one machine and the line was nuts all Saturday and Sunday.

Anyways, back to Marina. We lined up for her show which slated to start a 1pm. Most of her events were pretty laid back and nothing was before 11am. On Saturday she had people at her booth in the exhibit hall, and they were selling most of her CDs, Marinar’s Tees, towels, and keychains. If you bought $40 worth of things you can also get a cheki ticket. I took 2 cheki on Saturday and one more Sunday. She was also autographing things you bought at the autograph session on Saturday and the impromptu one on Sunday after the panel.

So the live and panel were one and the same kinda, at the Main Events hall. The turnout was modest to say the least, about 50 or so folks? The live started abruptly at 1pm–she literally ran on stage and the music started. It was Morning Arch (but it was 1pm). I was definitely not ready. While she had upbeat songs most of us kind of sat, I guess.

This kind of went on for an hour. There were some parts where the main speakers were cutting out the vocals. This would go on until the last song where her vocals were completely cut out and we had to take a break while the tech guys fix the problem. During MC she would struggle with English admirably but call on the service of the con interpreter. She said “transformer” during the first MC instead of “translator” and it was pretty funny.

The whole thing on Sunday was streamed on AnimeNext’s twitch feed, which should have the video archived for a period of time.

Other tidbits from the panel besides baseball? She talked about her background growing up in a sports-y family, and she played it throughout her childhood. She was in the girls softball team, out in right field (thus #9 being part of her moniker). Somehow she went into music though, because it was what she liked and wanted to do for a living. Also, as a nerd of some kind she did read some of the stuff she worked on, such as in the Monogatari series. Doing tie-in with anisong to her is a way to communicate with the series directly? Something like that. Also seems to go to Meiji Jingu the most to watch baseball. Hm, a lot of her panel is about baseball.

As an aside, I wore an IM@S baseball jersey Saturday and she commented on it when we took the cheki. I also wore it on Sunday and she called me “IDOLM@STER-san” which…I guess is okay, since that was the point. Is this the second nickname I got this year from a guest at a con? Maybe.

PS. I did end up at Gordon Ramsay’s for dinner and splurged a bit. This was a highlight of the weekend. Nothing special–expensive pub food in an Atlantic City casino resort is both what you’d do in Vegas but the results is surprisingly not as bad as I’d expect–from Vegas. I’d recommend it, but this is a proverbial $$$ type kind of place, which runs antithetical to “British pub fare” in my mind somehow. The beef wellington was a standout so I recommend it if you ever get to go.

The duck confit poutine is really solid but short on curds. Need to at least double the curds. On that note, we ended the weekend with an early dinner at Wingcraft and had the poutine burger. It was a decent burger but the bun kind of murdered the mild flavors of the poutine. A pass.

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