Category Archives: Conventions and Concerts

Anime NYC 2018: Wrap

So the weekend before last weekend was Anime NYC 2018 at the Javitz, Friday till Sunday. I was there only for Friday and Saturday. This year I was fortunate enough to get a day off to go do all the Friday things. I opted out Sunday because I wanted to sleep in and did not really care that much for what the con offered.

I think this is what the con feels like this year, in that there are a lot of stuff the first two days, and just an average amount of stuff on Sunday. From what I can tell, the industry showed up en force, and there were very few fan panels accepted. The dealer room is much bigger, and the panel rooms are properly in the lower halls now. I didn’t even see where the game room was.

There were spaces used to line people up this time, as well as a bag check system for people going in and out of the exhibit hall area. The bag check expanded to the autographing and panel area on Saturday.

The big Anisong World Matsuri concerts were held at the Hammerstein Ballroom down 34th. It’s a bit of a hike but I think the venue is a good fit. VIP badgers had standing seat up front and they even set up barriers for them, so they aren’t pressured by the plebs. I think that is a good move, probably partly because the shows didn’t sell out so this will gap the crowd for better optics. That said, the show sold pretty well, most of the floor did fill up and so did the first level balcony. They could probably have opened the second level and charged a lower price and fill that up too.

The word was, there was a press event on Friday’s dealer room opening part where some local politician announced 11/16 to be some kind of anisong day? And you can see how they sold 2000 or so tickets on Saturday. Friday was less.

For some reason I was in the dealer’s room for a total of 20 minutes all weekend, so I didn’t really have time to walk it (spent most of it watching N’s set).

This year, ANYC has a “Mega” badge system which gave these premiere fans the following perks: priority entry to the con, priority entry to the exhibit hall, priority entry to main events, first presale of tickets for AWM, and some at-con loot and discounts. The mega badge was north of $300, and coming into it, the value prop was not there. Now that we survived ~36000 attendees, it was indeed worth it mainly because of autograph camping. The way autograph worked for ANYC is similar to NYAF/early NYCC, where attendees camp the opening of the con for ticket handout. Since Mega people always get in first, they are basically guaranteed any given ticket. At the con Friday there were ~180 Megas in line, and I think the autograph ticket pile was roughly 100-200 tall, not sure. All the tickets lasted beyond the Mega group and plebs in front were able to get some.

Only if Anime Expo was like this, huh.

The con is still just a 3-day affair. This meant spending some time in line to camp for autographs (as tickets are not guaranteed if it ran over time), and some in line for AWM day 1. I got a regular balcony seat for day 2 so I could just go to my assigned seat, but day 1 I ended up somewhere middle and near the front, about 3 or 4th row back.

AWM was just as you would expect in Hammerstein, and as you would expect given this cast list. Day 1 was more or less very predictable, with exception maybe just the sheer number of collab and the fact that everybody sang with everybody else. I am still slightly awestruck with Nano’s rendition of Invoke with Luna. It really is like TMR until she dialed it back from karaoke mode a tad.

Sparkling daydream between TRUE and Konomin? That’s crazy talk. Born to Be was neat. It puts Don’t Be Lazy and God Knows in place. Aquarion is probably still the best tone setter, to begin the show that way.

Personally Luna’s set hits 100/100 for me, especially NYC version of Momoiro Typhoon right off the bat. I think the rest of the show kind of just melted around that. Nano’s was more miss than hit, but I know more songs than I expected? The way the show ended made sure it went over well as everyone do their big hit with Luna kind of wrapping it up.

For uchiage Friday, we had pizza near NYPenn, and it was swell. I decided to crash at a friend’s to shorten the camping for the day after.

The morning after, we split an uber from JC directly to the Javitz, and camped out at around 6am. I was like the first 10 people in the Mega line, while my friends are in the first 90 or 80 in the reg? It’s not super clear because at some point people did kinda cut. There was this young woman in front of me freezing her Florida butts off in the frosty West Side wind. It’s Javitz, so it’s windy and dreary, and she wore jeans and a shirt over her cosplay, which was even less covering. Eventually she survived with a bit of help, but that is not a look you want to be in at this con in the morning line.

This con is just a 3-day con, so all the AWM Saturday guests did stuff Friday at the con, and AWM Friday guests did stuff Saturday, which meant I ended up doing all that Saturday plus a session with Range Murata to rep his new book published by Denpa, the new manga pub launched by Ed. I think in the end I was in line for autographs most of the day as a result. I also had to camp the AWM autograph line to start-dash into the Fate event. Main achievement there was to get True to sign Hanazakari Weekend amirite.

The con is still just a 3-day affair. This meant the Saturday Fate event (which you had to buy a ticket to go see I think) was smack middle of a bunch of AWM things. Anyway, I went in late and skipped a lot of the random chat part for the dub team. I caught some sneak views of the Heaven’s Feel part 2 trailer and then, Aimer.

It was good, but sudden. Aimer did her normal schtik, with just a keyboard accompaniment. It was over all too soon. The loot given out for S-tier tickets ($60) was back at reg in which I had to beat the rush to get to camp Trigger autographs? LOL. The Fate event packed out well so the crowd and start-dash was real. I was literally the 7th person in line and Koyama switched over to Mako only right when I got up, so there you have it.

At the Saturday AWM show, which was just an hour after the Trigger autograph (took 35 minutes, then 10 for me to fast walk to the venue, which left me enough time to buy a drink), we had fun sitting and cheering from the balcony. It was definitely the right call.

(Click on the tweet to see full set list in the thread)

I was pretty floored by some of these song choices. Both ways. On one hand I’m sure a handful of people in that room even knows some of these, myself not included. Sagittarius was godly, with Shokotan doing the vocals. Morning Musume ’18 and Kageyama’s Love Machine though? That is some incredibly rare thing. The collabs were as crazy as we thought they were, as well as just bonkers in that specific case.

Morning Musume did bring the crowd and it was fun and fine. The VIP section for Saturday was not as packed but there were more people in the audience, so that’s nice. Shoko’s songs were well received, better than Dani’s anyway. Kageyama more or less played the most iconic stuff I think, complete with his The Real Folk Blues guitar cover. GO! was a good pick to start it up, and obviously we had to sing Cruel Angel Thesis with this very 3d group, but wrapping up with some JAM-y songs is nice.

But really, Kageyama doing Love Machine with MM18? He’s like 3x the age of the group mean, and that song is like, 18 years old too? LOL. It was great laughs.

We did a bigger uchiage after AWM Saturday, and that was it for me.

I keep on saying this is a 3-day con, mainly to make the point that a lot was happening and it would be hard to do everything that you wanted to do. I gave up on seeing much of the dealer’s room, and only stopped by the DJ booth for 20 minutes on Friday over at Lumica. Lumica had some more wotagei masters and DJs this time too. Well, not to mention the rest of the Exhibit Hall. This is what I missed on Sunday by not going to the con, I guess.

I’m not sure I’m ready for ANYC to become a 4-day event, but if it gets bigger, it’s inevitable. I do wish ANYC to become a con that’s on par with AX, just so we can have more AWM type events and bigger JP draws. But I also don’t know if I want to pay the full cost of that, both monetarily and in effort/dealing with camping. Well, if it brings all the boys and girls to the yard, maybe that’s okay. ANYC is also fairly fan-panel free this year, which might be a reason why it’s just 3 days long. Having more days will positively help some aspects of the con, but it’ll likely raise prices for regular attendees and the like, and I’m not sure if this con can justify it just yet.

Overall? This is what peak condition NYAF looks like, or ANYC now that it’s back on track. AWM was a good get, but there were a lot of room for improvement: it didn’t sell out at all, and the production value is a bit lacking. The lineup is also not that good, sorry Dani and random oldie robot anisong lovers. MM is a good get but an odd pairing, nothing wrong with it, just unusual. The con was run smoothly enough; line management more or less was there. The staff count was right largely. The snow didn’t derail much from the con, just a hassle for attendees and staff alike. Overall things worked out well, even the overpriced Mega ticket system.

The real problems I see are all structural or because Javitz kinda sucks for consumer-style cons location-wise, and we can’t do much about those things. So let’s bring it on next year, I guess.


Importing Japanese Eventing Culture: Chara Expo USA 2018

In my red-eye-flight induced state of mind, Chara Expo USA is very much like your standard Japanese expo event where the day begins the night before, as you and your group figure out if you want to camp overnight or not. Or maybe if you did, you are now figuring out how you can do it in the least painful way. If you didn’t, Chara Expo is a con where you go in and see the stuff, and there were stuffs, and you can maybe buy a thing or two.

If you did, which is most people who are going to be participating events, as events at the show often have limited tickets that you need to enter. There was a stage set up in which people with event tickets can enter, and people without tickets can stand along the outside barrier and see the event. For people experienced with Japanese anime/manga/industry/doujinshi events, this should seem kind of familiar.

In order to get any of the priority things or event tickets or autograph tickets, while supplies last, you need to get into the line to buy the things to get said tickets or priority things. In order to get into the line before too many other people are in the line ahead of you, you need to camp the entry, outside. This is why Chara Expo always start the night before.

Unlike the rest of the Japanese media mix expo experience that Chara Expo USA brought to us, we were missing the line management piece. Which isn’t to say the lines were bad–once you enter the premises, the lines were well-managed. The goods checkout process for the main booth was smooth and fast. You got the tickets as they should and people were generally very good about that. The autograph line was a little messy but since it was all ticketed, it doesn’t even matter. What was missing was the prevention of that big, bad, nasty night battle that resulted from the lack of line management for the line to get into the event. There were some; part of it from fans, others from some staff who did set up and lead the lines. What was missing was any enforcement of cutting, or even just farming the line so it is orderly and in columns.

In Japan, staffers will at least set up areas where you can park your gear and save your space. It basically removes the ability for people to “hold spots” because you were assigned a spot as you enter the queue. It isn’t just a disorderly line, and more often than not there will be barriers to mark your areas from intrusion. We needed that badly. That was almost half the time I spent at Chara Expo–outside or around the area where people were lining up.

With that whine out of the way, Chara Expo USA is basically an exhibition of a lot of Bushiroad stuff, and their associated connections which pulls in some Japanese vendors (mostly local) and cultural stuff, like this guy named Okazu who does sumi-e paintings. He did a live demo, and had a gallery up. Swallowtails set up a popup shop if you enjoy your butlers. I am at least curious. The crew of 4(?) also took turns doing karaoke at a public stage for community acts.

The usual industry partners were there too, like Aniplex and GSC both had booths. Animate USA had a booth. HiDive was there to shill Revue. I saw Cospa. There are some that I missed I’m sure. There is also the expected card game section of Chara Expo where Jungle was situated.

I was there mostly for the Big Autograph Session both days, plus the music performances both days. On Saturday it was a mini live by three members of Poppin’ Party and then the BanG Dream session band Raise A Suilen. On Sunday it was Roselia. Autograph-wise, I was interested in generally a lot of them, although outside of Aimi, Kudou Haruka and Nakashima Yuki, I had more of just a passing curiosity. It’s also an opportunity to explore some new talents, let’s just say.

Due to the 3-ticket-per-person-per-run constraint, I managed 3 autographs on day 1 (I watched RAS outside the barriers) and 2 on day 2 (Roselia seat chuusen was a good move I think). I’ll run through each of the “sub events” here.

Day 1 Autograph 1: Koyama Momoyo looked the part of a stage actress even in this setting. I said I went to see her and she is really cool on stage. Not sure if all of it came through. Got a thanks and got ushered out pretty fast. The autograph process was fairly streamlined and they had 4 staffers at each one to manage things. That’s 1-2 more than typical. It’s pretty amusing to balance Momoyo’s cute look and the fact that she plays this happy dolt that has to be cool during those climatic scenes. I selected her mainly because I wanted to see her up close and kind of get an idea of her mannerism, especially since she’s not really the seiyuu type.

Day 1 Autograph 2: Kudou Haruka looked every part like Kudou Haruka. It’s been like a decade since I first saw her from Noein bonus videos, but she still struck me in a way the same as she used to. She’s even doing a photo book which is coming out soon. I guess now I am more familiar with her from Instagram? I told her about how I enjoy her IG and got ushered out. Too fast. During the lineup for this, the pro wrestling stage was going on so it was very deja vu of Anime North. I saw Jushin Liger? You can definitely tell the skill level of these NJPW types are at least pro level. Also at the same time was the Popipa stage so I was watching whatever left of that that I could.

Day 1 Autograph 3: Nakashima Yuki was cute and had that chika-idol-turned-major countenance. Did I say she was cute? She is very cute. I told her I will be going to Cinderella Girls Nagoya and she told me see you later as I got ushered out. Nice touch. You can really tell which one of these people know and do the work-the-fan thing, and those who are just doing it because they have to. Well, they all had to LOL.

Raise A Suilen live: I stood on the right side of the event space outside the barricaded area. It was still quite close to stage left and that is where Riko stood. Even Raychell, who was basically cemented in the middle [by that, I mean, “POSITION ZERO”], was pretty close as I was about half way up from the stage. It was pretty rock. Compared to the handful of Japanese girl bands that I’ve seen perform, you can actually tell these players are pretty good at what they’re doing, but there was definitely a feeling that they are a session band. I was mostly impressed with Raychell and Natsume, although once Riko started to kick-skanking while jamming that was really neat to see. Idol dance kicks while playing is definitely a worthy burst appeal. Somehow Reo’s performance head play was more weird than wow, though. Seeing Kohara Riko on guitar was a lot of fun and a definite discovery. She was in the unit formed to sing for Sket Dance and that meant I listened to a lot of her singing during those days. She’s also in some Happy Elements idol thing, which a fun guy told me about, LOL.

Day 2 Autograph 1: Otsuka Sae is basically a WYSIWYG kind of girl, so it seemed. Her outfit that day reminds me of something I saw on Aimi’s IG… Anyways. I told her she was really cool the day before while playing the guitar, and while it’s a casual complement it’s close to what I like the most about her. When she “does” it on stage there’s this wild flash in her eyes right before she turns it on. I tried to get all 3 guitarists on the second day for autographs, but as Aimi sold out almost right away. I ended up getting the Roselia show ticket as consolation prize.

Day 2 Autograph 2: Koharu Riko is for the most part a brand new person. I did see the footage of “The Third (kakkokari)” during the delayed viewing earlier this year but seeing her in person was another issue entirely. She is also very cute and she has that chika idol glow as well. It’s not as strong as Yukki’s but her getup was just adorable that day. She wore a bundle at the top of her head (see also: Yurucamp). A big reason why I was there was to hang out with other Koharu Riko appreciators, as I am not quite one.

BONUS: Day 2 Vanguard Talk Stage: I sat in to this event kind of after it has already started, maybe more than half way through. It was a free event and a lot of people sat in to camp for the Revue stage afterwards in the same main events space. Anyway, I was tired and wanted to rest, and there were seats here. Also, Aimi was there, along with Morishima Shuuta and Maeda Seiji. I know nothing of Vanguard, so I took some joy when Aimi drew DA PUMP when the USA question came up, and kind of dozed.

Starlight Review stage: It was a talk show where the cast member introduces the show and characters to the crowd. Oh, Lisle was running all the talk stages in her usual style, although it being scripted completely helps to balance her style a lot. Maybe that’s why she does things that way? Anyway, Mimo, Momoyo and Aiai did their thing. They were also showing dub clips of stuff from the anime and featured a few highlight clips (and one spoiler I guess). They also showed some clips from the first musical. I was pretty tired from camping overnight two nights in a row so I basically sat in the stage area before it started to take a power nap. Since this event wasn’t ticketed people were just camping in there. The talk stages had varying amount of audience members inside the main event area. Most of the time it was sparsely attended, but Revue had the most people not counting the ticketed events. It was totally full in fact, and some people were standing inside the blocked off area.

The questions asked at these stage events are kind of worse-than-softball filler questions, but for some of them they are closer to the standard seiyuu nama stuff, where they might have to draw something or whatever. For Revue the focus was more on explaining what they were doing.

Roselia live: In a lot of ways this was the main event at Chara Expo USA. Roselia as a group is by far the most popular thing in BanG Dream in Japan, and I think it’s also true in the States. People were scalping (buying) the seriken (I’m just going to use this term to describe the event ticket, because that’s specifically what it is) even, despite the obvious fact you can watch the show from afar for free. They even pulled out a random seating process out of their butts last minute, to not conflate the people camping priority of the seriken with people camping the area outside main events (so they can be up along the barrier). It’s pretty neat–although usually in Japan they just number the seriken for that reason.

I didn’t even know this but the word did get out in the grapevine. There were about 300 seats in the event space, and there were maybe another 200-300 people standing to watch the show. I guess they could have added more chairs last minute or something. Anyways, we (seriken holders) were filed in by staffers about an hour before the event. Then as we are being admitted in a single file, we draw a number from a big box (probably used in a stage event?) which has a number from 1 to 300 on it. Then we go sit in a seat with the same number. Two staffers in the event space helped usher people to their seats. It did not take long to do this, since there were only 300 people, and everyone lined up early or just about. Being the last major event in the show also meant not much else was going on at the time I guess. Anyways this was rather neat way to use RNG to settle something people could spend hours camping on, and it felt like a good tradeoff.

I had slightly above average luck on seating (#147), but bad luck in general because while I had a center-center seat, the guy directly in front of me was about 6 inches taller. Welp.

The show started promptly–given that every event on Saturday was delayed by 20-30 minutes, they preemptively moved everything by 30 minutes on Sunday. We got the full visual-kei-animu treatment with the band members walking in, and from then on it was history.

I can’t find a setlist off hand, but they did play their newest song and it’s largely based on Roselia’s live last weekend, where the new keyboardist was introduced and played 3 songs.

AND OMG SHE SHOWED UP AS A SURPRISE GUEST AT CHARA EXPO USA. She also played 3 songs.

They were pretty ham about this, considering they had to roll in a platform with all the keys and stuff. The full show was still just an hour long, so we miss much of the MC in exchange for just a lot of hype songs in quick order. When Aiai talked less she seemed more cool than she really was. Anyways, Aiai and the cast let in the clue in a few phrases, and people went crazy because there weren’t much time between our minds registering and seeing the crew moving in the hardware.

The new character voice for Rinko is Shizaki Kanon. She was super nervous at the show–it was totally on her face. It didn’t help that we are a bunch of American kids, and she barely speaks any English. It didn’t help that there were some EQ issue with her rig during her first song. It certainly did help that people went nuts with her surprise appearance and she got more limber as the show went on. It also feels like she has that AKB48 new idol vibe. Maybe it’s just what a nervous young woman looks like?

Anyways, the set and the song and the crowd and the sound all were fairly good. I was a bit concerned about the sound at the venue, but it turned out to be just fine for something like Roselia. And they are basically every bit as fun in a big dome as they are in a smaller space inside a convention hall. It was probably two-thirds showmanship and one-thirds the music driving the story, with Aiai as its conductor. Shimayukki, Megucchi and Kudoharu are the supporting priestesses who pay respects to the fakest of fake rock music, and it works. I mean, I have to give it to her–y’all know I’m into the other 3 (or 4, since new person is new, and very shy LOL) more than I am into her, but I find my eyes drift back onto her because she literally was working as the focus of each set.

On the last day of Chara Expo there was a mikoshi going around. It feels in a way the same as Roselia’s orientation at an exo-cultural event like Chara Expo USA. I’m just glad we got the right crowd and the right sizing and, most importantly, Bushiroad did not half-ass their effort to bring Roselia’s A-game to the USA.

PS. I’m going to Anime NYC and AWM both days. RIP sleep. But do come & say hello.


Asakura Momo First Solo Live: Day 1 Report

Asakura Momo, the arguable “center” of Trysail, had her first solo live (1 and 2 out of 4) on Saturday/Sunday, October 20-21, 2018. She will do a series of 4 lives, called LAWSON presents 麻倉もも Fantasic Live 2018 “Peachy!”, on 10/20-21, and then 11/10-11. All shows are schedule to take place at Maihama Amphitheater just outside of Tokyo proper (it’s Chiba!), which is just by the Disney resort complex in Maihama. She goes by the nickname Mocho. I attended the first of the showing so here goes writing it up…

It helps me to center the experience by explaining a bit about my history with Mocho, and her background as well. On one of my very early eventing trips to Japan back in 2014, I saw her, for the first time, at a stage greeting (for the IDOLM@STER movie) and I was smitten ever since. She was an unknown quality to me at the time. It was really her attitude that got me–someone who is a straight-backed go-getter in the most child-like, natural kind of way. She was still just 19, and was spending her second winter in Tokyo. There’s this twisted sense of Mr. Smith Goes To Washington crossed with Beverly Hillbillies crossed with just good fashion orthogonal thinking. She generally held on to the simple stuff, but it works for her and not most other people in the same disposition, at least in my opinion. Okay, I gave her Fukuoka countryside upbringing a lot of credit, but in reality she is the best kind of airhead, the D&D character sheet of 18 WIS but 7 INT, or at least as close to that you’re going to get in the entertainment industry.

In terms of looks, Mocho is actually rather blessed with her Kirby-esqe style going on, and I mean that in the most positive and flattering way possible. Back when she was really holding her weight (in the winter time) she had these adorable cheeks, which now has been largely tamed. It all makes sense to her fans because she’s the kind of person who gains weight in the winter and loses it in the summer, fairly visibly, and this past summer she did a photo book in Guam (comes out this week), showing off some actual chops in the process. We know how that goes in this industry, even for a seiyuu. But the fact that she’s got the curves (as Kirby does), there’s a lot of Mocho to feast your eyes on, for a seiyuu anyways.

Asakura Momo the seiyuu is part of the trio that marks the second “class” of the Music Ray’n seiyuu agency (Muray for short). This SME-attached, seiyuu-idol management produced the four talents of Sphere for Muray’s inaugural class. Muray has actually moved on officially to the third class with the Music Ray’n 3rd audition last year, but this means the Trysail ladies now have even more solo opportunities as the second Muray class move into the next stage of their development as idol seiyuu talents.

The second class hasn’t been in a whole lot of massively popular shows (when’s the next K-ON guys), so it might be a little hard to hear them if you don’t look for them. Mocho is probably best known from her role in IDOLM@STER Million Live as Hakozaki Serika, but westerners probably would have heard her sing in the Witch Craft Works ending as well as some oddish roles like Sumi from Sakura Trick, Yuka from Pripri Chii-chan, or Ayumi from Charlotte (as we’d call it, Imocho #1). She was the lead role in the first Honeyworks film, and will play Iroha in the upcoming Magireco anime (and of course she’s in the game too, being the equivalent of FGO’s Mash in that).

For those of us following Mocho a little closer, we know Mocho is a big fan of showa idols and shoujo manga. Partly influenced by her family, she is really into Matsuda Seiko, the famed mainstream idol who is a fixture in the Japanese entertainment industry since the 80s. Given how Muray always let their talents drive their solo artist styles, it is little surprise that Mocho first live, and building largely on her first solo album, evokes a strong sense of showa idol-dom, with songs that have a more positive and modern vibe than your standard love ballads and pop tunes.

Speaking of all of that though, while Asakura Momo the anisong seiyuu artist has been releasing singles the past few years, everything seemed to lead up to this October where she releases a single in late August, full album (first, called Peachy) in early October, and photobook in October just after the first 2 shows of her first solo live. It’s planned-out marketing I guess, but it makes things challenging for fans to ramp it up all of the sudden.

Setlist:

Just going to walk things in chronological order based on what happened.

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Reviews of North American Cons, 2018 Summer

Going to do some personal reviews of North American anime cons, obviously only from my point of view:

  • NY-region based – defines what is local (Northeast US, East Canada), what is expensive (flight-wise), and what I think is expensive (not a lot)
  • 20+ years going to anime cons in the US and Canada. And nowadays flying to Asia for events but anyways…
  • Mainly for JP guests – Is Learn2Offkai still a thing?
  • Not that poor anymore? lol – Time is arguably more valuable to me than money.
  • Some cons I have not been in recent years. I’m limiting this list to only cons I’ve attended in the past 5 years.

Goal is to be concise and easy to compare, largely as pros/cons listed. Why? Because cons lend themselves to long-form write-ups as I’ve done on this blog thus far, but I want to change the framing to see what yields from this exercise with short form writing. I’m breaking general estimate on “JP guest count” by “few, some, quite a few, a lot” in incremental amounts.

Notes: I break out cons by small (<10k), medium (10-20k) and large (20k+). Just about all anime cons are < 35k in the US and Canada. Anime Expo is the one exception at over 120k in 2018. (Fanime may be the other exception…) I generally only go to larger cons because of the guest issue–hard for small cons to bring guests, except the very dedicated ones… Anyways.

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Anisama – Animelo Summer Live 2018

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.

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