It’s not an anime con, but it can feel like one. To me Anisama is a music festival but also kind of like a Japanese festival where people come and hype it up to have a good time. Anyways, thoughts and such ahead.
What dominated my thoughts 12 hours after Anisama day 3 ended and taking this photo were:
It was HOT. Like, the weather. I was talking to some friends while waiting for other friends before going into the venue (~3pm) Sunday afternoon. It was hot all weekend but Sunday was the hottest. Just take a look. There were 2 days in July and 1 day in August that had a higher high temp, during this heat wave. Saturday was hot too, at 95F (an undetectable difference compared to 97F that was Sunday). I didn’t land in Japan until Friday night so I had no comment on Friday’s weather, but the high temperature coupled with the usual high humidity in Saitama meant life was pretty hellish if you were under the sun. As someone pulling a weekender from the comparatively mild NYC weather, the hot weather had a visible impact on my enjoyment of Anisama this year.
I did buppan on Saturday. I was “taking it easy” in that I got to the line at around 7:45, but I already have sweated out about a liter of fluids by then. That was pretty crazy, and it was not just me–everyone in line was in some form of hazard management mode. There was one big guy near me and he was just as drenched as I was. When the sun came out it got tormentingly hot, as a good chunk of the lineup was not in the shade. At some point I did get used to it, but it was draining my energy just by being under the sun, even when I was doing nothing. I had to deal with this until ~3pm, when I went into the venue. And that made day 2 a real chore.
Imagine if you were going nuts at Keiyaki Hiroba because oshijumping at 97F weather really means you like your oshi? I don’t know, maybe that is why things were not as crazy this year compared to last year? LOL. I was talking to Rop about this during the aforementioned Sunday afternoon wait, and we talked about how Animax Musix had proper anikura and I was like, LOL people are gonna die if you do Anikura at Anisama, because this weather is deathly. Shortly after he spotted a guy who has succumbed to heat stroke and had to be taken out of the Keiyaki Hiroba on stretchers. It was bad.
This was a huge contrast to my buppan experience last year in 2017, where a balmy 80F temp with 100% cloud cover meant actually good nap weather. Yeah it was still 80+% humidity, but it did not threatened kill anyone. I got to hang out with Ken P last Sunday, in contrast of this Sunday where he bolted from Station to Inside the Arena because it was hot as all heck, LOL.
The usual eventer oshi whine always come up. Last year’s Anisama was the exception than the norm–it was epic and really freaking great. This year was more of your standard Anisama with the usual hits and misses. For people like me who appreciate anisong in general, it was still an overwhelmingly good time. But if you were at Anisama mainly for a group or two (or even five or six), there will be a bunch of misses you gonna sit through. Even for me, day three’s farewell to Milky Holmes were mostly a miss, although I liked the songs they did and the way they went about giving them the farewell treatment. Yeah, if that rubs you the wrong way (and it does–given how I am into WUG and they too, had a farewell thing), it doesn’t always leave you with a good taste in the mouth as you go home from the venue.
But that’s not the point of events like Anisama. Actually, for the discerning people, you would even realize the Big Three anisong fests in Japan–Anisama, Animax Musix, Lisani–all have their own niches and approaches. I would legit enjoy going to them as their own things and to enjoy their signature strengths. Of course the issue is more that we all have limited time and money and energy and attention span, so we can’t go to all of them. Some of the artists who perform at anisama do a much better job during their one-man lives than as a fest-style performance. The venue sometimes don’t cooperate. The stage presence of some of these artists are completely different in a live house versus at a big arena. The list go on. So yeah, pick and choose what works for you, but realize just because you see so-and-so at Anisama, it might not mean you’ve really seen that artist.
The same can be said of those who go to Anisama for certain artists only–you’re not getting why Anisama exists in the first place. Or why people move to tears to see The MONSTERS jam to Snow Halation. Or many other things that makes me go to Anisama, actually. Anyways, that might be a topic for its own post.
Is Anisama the place to be? I don’t know. Of all the “places to be” in Japan for general western weeaboo-dom, like Comiket or Wonfes or Cosplay Summit or Chokaigi or TGS or whatever, Anisama never gets talked up as one of them. This is the change I want to see. For the longest time Anisama is probably the most directly related thing to anime otaku fandom outside of actually celebrating it in the comiket style or via cosplay. But those expressions of fandom have long since came into their own. Anisong, on the other hand, is still a classic, top-down, pro-to-consumer style cultural distribution and export. Without the marketing there is not much of a scene, and much of the western scene involves importing the marketing (besides, of course, importing the music–which is also becoming marketing itself more often than ever). Unlike video games, anisong is this unknown and not-thought-of category outside of Japan. I guess it’s also a precious thing inside of Japan, which is partly why Anisama exists to begin with.
Because ultimately this is a new genre of a thing. It’s not like we can do anime conventions with just music, like how you can do a show with just a dealer’s room or artist alley or just cosplay meets. Anisama actually fills this gap in its 2018 rendition. Maybe this is why I (and some others) feel the need to import anikura to the west, because it also fills a similar gap.