As I sit and think about the 100s of links I’m about to repost below, I realize marble, the band we booked for Kurocon vol1, has a little series of shows to celebrate their 15th anniversary. Aoki Ume was announced for their 1/15 show in Tokyo and I could make it if I skipped the other show I ticketed for already. Just sort of a bummer that I couldn’t make it because I really want to see marble in person now.
See you at Million Live 9th? I’m going to Japan again, after this blank of 2 months or so. Although I will only be there for a few days, it would be great to meet up with anyone who I’ve not seen for some time. It’s also nice I can just copypasta (almost) the same paragraph from the last letter lol.
It sure was better than the previous idea I had about opening this letter–on Hitomi Suzuki. I’ll get on with this later.
When I first read about Hitomi Suzuki in or around 2016, it was a line item under the concept of “NOW ON AIR,” a seiyuu idol unit produced by Lantis with agency Office PAC. It didn’t stick. The second time I read about Hitomi Suzuki, it was looking up which color Yuki Tanaka was in NOA when she was added to IDOLM@STER Shiny Colors as Asahi.
I’ve not really seen NOW ON AIR at all, as they were low profile, and other than two of their animetie-ins I have barely heard them either. Still, that was enough for me to “get” what it was like once I connected the dots. In 2021, NOW ON AIR was put on indefinite hiatus.
Reading about Hitomi Suzuki recently, it was the news of her passing from cancer at the age 26. It seems she was part of Office PAC during her entire seiyuu career. At first I didn’t even realize she was formerly of NOW ON AIR. Then the realization came. Cheers to Crunchyroll calling it out in the headline.
It’s so weird how that little bit of context adds so much–because you can now imagine how a Hitomi Suzuki tanoshi’s life is like? Can you imagine the feelings the NOA cast and staff had to deal with the last 18 months? Your struggling seiyuu dreams crushed by COVID and the rest of your future robbed due to terminal illness? That just seems way too much.
Since NOA disbanded in 2021, Momoe, Misako and Mina have left the agency as well. Momoe seems to have completely retired from show biz. Misako and Mina found out about Suzuki’s passing through social media and it’s rough to see their now-freelance reactions on social. Here’s also a shout-out from Aira Yuuki who worked with the group in the past. The remaining members were still connected via their agency, and they work together in the agency’s vocal unit, “Coe-mony.”
What’s really tragic isn’t so much of all of the hang-wringing I’m now reading up on, but that “Coe-mony” has a live show on Jan 15 2023. Hitomi Suzuki is listed as a cast member still for that show. I’m assuming “Coe-mony” has a regular program and they talk about this throughout, and have some kind of plan to put everything in perspective given that Suzuki’s agency should be in the know throughout her health journey. But I’m just guessing.
To me, the most memorable thing was finding out that NOA participated in Machi Asobi one year and did the race within the city. Was it a half marathon or something? It was pretty amusing to see seiyuu idols go through it, which is why it stuck. I’m just hoping everyone affected by Hitomi Suzuki’s passing can find some solace in these pretty harmonies.
I was just looking on twitter randomly and noticed Holiday Matsuri. This is the annual event in Orlando, Florida, right before the end-of-year holidays. I can’t find easily the attendance numbers, but it’s held in a large resort hotel that maxes out at 10k in its largest meeting space, so it’s probably safe to say the con is not larger than 10000 per day in warm bodies. The guest list and content checks out for a mid-size con. There are several other cons in Florida of similar nature and varying sizes. None of them hit my radar because of the lack of both industry and Japanese guests. It’s not to say they never show up, just very rarely… Still, the programming at those events look really good and would be pretty great to attend, from a hangout point of view.
To the extend that there are quite a few anime-culture events that are destinations for the now-fit-for-travel Millennials, which is really the first generation who grew up with family-friendly (to the extent that you could be going before you were an adult) cons of this type, cons mixing with popular travel destinations are a thing. HolMat is on the doorsteps of Disney World, Anime NYC is in Manhattan, and Chara Expo was across from Disneyland are of any note for vacationers. There are the Colossal cons, which are basically resort cons. There are cons in Vegas. There are cons in Hawaii. And there’s always going to Japan for a couple weeks for Comiket or whatever event you fancy.
Which is also to say, “American anime cons” are its own thing. If you look at the programming available on HolMat’s site you can see it’s listed with about 13 or so events tracks, on top of various gaming, social, and the usual AA/Dealers setup. No JP guests, just a bunch of influencers, dub actors, cosplayers, DJs and the like. The content is highly tailored to indie or fan material.
On my way home from DFW, I can’t help but to think this is really what Anime Frontier should copy from to have a good jump in a year where they can’t pour in the outside help. This is what they sort of need to go in to a new place that has already established conventions around.
Anime Frontier 2022 was in Fort Worth Con center. It’s a nice and large space in downtown Fort Worth. It was also my first trip in that part of the country so I had a chance to walk around and take in the sights. If you can ignore the fact that DTFW is a giant parking lot for a good 1/4 of it, the experience was fine as the holiday vibe was on full. Given FLOW was the primary draw for me at the event and they’re gone by Saturday (I guess they were playing in Mexico City on Sunday after?), there was not much to do at the con either for the most part. The last guest they invited had to be cancelled on Sunday so I just switched my flights early to take off first thing in the morning.
I walked the dealers/AA room in full on Friday and canvassed it on Saturday. That’s probably a first in many years… Actually the quality of vending is just fine for this event, but the foot traffic and sales are low, given what I heard and seen. Gundam Base being there is a big boom but I wonder how well they sold. I was able to pick up a couple Gundam Aerial HG, which seems to be sold out in Japan but not elsewhere, or some such.
The panels at the con had a lot of industry content. What caught my eyes are the concert archive streams, but none of the show jumped out at me. The movie screenings were probably more pertinent, with Shin Ultraman on Sunday and Blue Thermal on Saturday. I passed on those and instead caught a showing of the Gotobun movie at the local theater about 8 minutes away from the con. I also went to Goldee’s, which is what I did at the other Dallas region con earlier this year. The BBQ game at these places are a full blown experience and worth every minute of it. Oh, I guess I did watch the USA Men’s National Team lose at the World Cup while having breakfast at the hotel.
Anime Frontier did have some fan-run panels, but it’s thin. There were 2 panel room tracks, that’s it. Maybe it’s a new con so few people had the ability to work it in their schedule, but this felt big time lacking. The con also basically shuts down by 10pm, and has no attached hotel presence like many other cons in these parts of the world.
There are a bunch of places in DTFW to eat, or you can cross over the highway to lounge out at spots at the south side, which is what I did on Saturday night. The places there are all legit but it’s very…what’s the word, a car kind of a city. It’s not the most pedestrian friendly. You can walk it, but it’s not a great walk. The food is good though.
As for the rest of AF, I think until they kind of gain momentum and bring the big guns to the South, I’ll probably just treat it like a “winging it” kind of an event like I did this time. Hotel and flight weren’t expensive, and probably can be had cheaper if I wasn’t winging it…
PS. I had a weird situation at this event when my hotel reservation were transferred to the wrong day in the system. I think it was using one of the event booking system. Thankfully everything worked out in the end and I confirmed it with the hotel directly.
Let’s talk about Bocchi the Rock. First of all, here’s a nice video on Youtube talking about its qualities as an anime adaptation.
I think the gist of the video is pretty much the explainer for “Anime no Chikara.” And on a basic level, when you sic 100s of animation creators to create something based on a comic that a handful of people put together (at best, as with most 4koma works), you’re going to likely get something that’s more amazing than what the original manga team can put together, on average. (The video says how some people who checked out the comic for Bocchi because of the cool anime were disappointed. Isn’t this exactly what happened to some people during K-ON era? And that adaptation is quite straight-laced.) Frankly, this should be the case every time, but isn’t, is a post for another day, but we are on Youtube on 2022 and people hamming on something as basic as this still gets some stuff wrong.
In this particular case I feel the youtuber is a bit overexaggerating or using language that could stand to be more precise. Unfortunately I think being a little bit over-gushing about it is kind of the selling point of this sort of videos, correctness be damned. Maybe the algorithm has its upsides, but I don’t think I can approve any implementation that further encourages the selling off of veracity for clicks, which basically makes Youtube’s the worst offender there is. And, I guess, that is also another post, but there’s something more egregious about that video’s comments that I want to highlight. (Want to hate society? Go read Youtube comments.)
The top rated comments (as of this writing) says that Bocchi is an extrovert who has crippling social anxiety. Well, the social anxiety part I think we all can agree on, but who can possibly say Bocchi is an extrovert? It boggles my mind, but the person lays out that it’s because Bocchi seems to chooses or wants to do social things but can’t due to her, uh, issues. I’m sorry to say but doesn’t this mean this person has never met an introverted person who wants to party? (Has this person never has talked to people like myself?)
All of which is just to say, even engaging with the anime and story about an introvert, and a huge part of the appeal of Bocchi is just how she thinks and feels like an introverted person, is upended when you engage the thing that I would charitably call as society. Youtube served me a video about something I like and it just irritated me. This is how an introverted mind works, this is how Bocchi’s mind works.
Wanting to burn down society makes a great villain character if you are an old-timer JRPG creator, but it is even better if that motivation becomes the burning soul of a rock band. This is the third-level meta I want to see in Bocchi. I get it that cute girls can’t be bad girls in a Kirara 4koma, but I think there’s space for it and Bocchi will only get better the more chaotic it gets, which I think we all agree.
PS. The most serious foul in that Bocchi video is putting it in on a pedestal in a season when Pop Team Epic is airing, and then praise Bocchi’s…non-anime parts as if it was rare or even the first time something like this happened?? In another time, maybe it won’t be as offensive, but talk about applying the same analysis without paying attention to the context, the context of this season in 2022, as well as the context of this introverted thinking that characterizes Bocchi. Like if it was science, maybe it’s okay, but literary analysis? I’d give you no better than a C.
It feels weird blogging about Anime NYC while attending its sister con, Anime Frontier in Fort Worth. On the other hand, AF is basically the same setup as ANYC, just much smaller…and has Gundam Aerial HG in stock.
Anime NYC comes back from its Omicron-shaded 2021 edition and is a victim of its timing, yet again. This time it’s still not its fault. Japan opened its doors in mid-October which made booking guests feasible. Record high inflation and strong US demand for entertainment in 2022 means every international act is trying to play here, resulting in a slog of perfomer visa applications. This is partly why fhana and Flow dropped out of A-Kon earlier this year, but this is also why ANYC, despite various tries and attempts (as heard from the grapevine) couldn’t really come through with much. With help from CR, the Mogra DJs made it to the US, including the once-denied-by-visa DJ Wildparty who was supposed to show up at Porter Robinson’s show earlier in October. Rock band [alexandros] was literally announced on Friday of the con with a concert on Sunday, curtesy of Bandai Namco and their huge Gundam push. There’s a video out there of them talking about their visa limbo. It is a very 2022 eventer feel for Americans.
Anime NYC 2022 is a big Gundam con. I would say a good fifth of the programs are related to it including guests, screening, and the Alexandros concert. Bannam brought two huge Gundam displays and a large Gundam Base shop, along with other Bannam stuff. It was so big that it took me a while to find where the Tensura and music stuff were sold. Mixbox had a booth as collaborated with MAL, so I guess that technically is also Bannam? Bannam brought over the producer and director to Hathaway’s Flash. I finally got to tell Murase how I feel about Witch Hunter Robin! Maybe it’s blessing in disguise it wasn’t Reina Ueda at the con. Anyways they had a big presence.
Sort of overshadowed by them are Aniplex, and Toei. It’s hard to overshadow the huge One Piece displays they had at the hall, though. Literally a giant Luffy balloon towered over everything there, with regular cosplay gatherings riding on the hot Film Red stuff that’s going on.
Aniplex did their usual best, and I thoroughly enjoyed their panels, or at least the ones I could go to. Kagura panel was a ton of fun, and you can watch it streamed still. The big Mahoyo displays though…it is a vibe, as they say. I guess I need to dust off my Switch for the holidays.
Being mostly an industry thing, ANYC let the big companies bring their stuff, and it worked out because Bannam, Aniplex and Toei are real deals and I am impressed with what they did. Gundam Base did brisk business all weekend. If you spent $500 there you could get front row Alexandros concert. I’m not sure people realizes the value of this.
Alexandros are bros through and through. Two of them are fluent in English so it helped. It’s my first time seeing them in person but these guys are chart topper rockers (and I guess played in NYC in 2018). Still wild that they came with basically 2 days of notice. We were able to coax an encore out of them so that was good.
For reasons, I actually missed out on most of the Mogra stuff. I hated it, but it can’t be helped. The show was combined with the JP DJ with this LA DJ (she’s Taiwanese?) who played basically half the time. LIO from NIOLION was there with Teddy also, who I was able to see on Sunday.
The last thread from ANYC in terms of programming was the Tensura stuff. The movie just came out in Japan and was right after ANYC. Mindaryn and RON from Stereo Dive Foundation came over to do some music from the movie. In fact, Mindaryn had to fly back on Saturday because she has a movie event literally the day after. The mini-concert at the Tensura panel was fun. RON also did a solo show the Wednesday after ANYC (literally day before Thanksgiving) which was basically the same set plus a bunch of his older stuff. RON has written a lot of anime and game music so his solo work from SDF is kind of just scratching the surface of his catalog but do check it out.
What else is there to say? The con is huge–49K plus unique warm bodies, and it’s only because they weren’t booking the entire Javitz. The lines were a non-issue this year due to the lottery system. That said the lottery system is a bit of a mess, so I hope they clean that up for 2023.
On that note, Flow said at their panel at Anime Frontier that they want to go play in NY, because they only played in NJ and toured NY during their off day (sup Anime Next). Maybe this is a sign.
As for the rest of the con, I actually spent most of the time there, despite working Friday. It was crowded, and the exhibit floor was pretty much buzzing most of the time. Since panels were lottery for a good number of them, I didn’t really try to go. I didn’t even get to see Kawasumi… and the aforementioned miss on Mogra DJ left a bad taste in my mouth because I wanted to see them (and even paid VIP..)…well it’s partly my fault, but everything was announced kind of last minute, including the schedule of when the DJs will play. I think those issues aside, ANYC was actually a good time that renergized me (even if it was at the tail end of a eventing spree). Good time with friends were spent, especially making this ANYC special as covid’s grasp on events continue to weaken.
PS. Eats… if we take the full time from Friday to Wednesday after SDF’s concert… Went to 3 izakayas and they were all pretty good. The Henn na Hotel in Midtown has a proper izakaya inside of it, just really expensive. We went to 2 other places around Grammercy, one being a staple and another more traditional. We ended up getting “hot pot” which is just meat foudue Japanese style. It’s weird. Other spot has become a bit of my regular place with tebasaki and boozy milkshake made from nigori sake. We had late night dimsum on Wednesday after ramen for pre-show pregame. I mean what else is open at 11:30pm the day before Thanksgiving, am I right?