Category Archives: Conventions and Concerts

Anime Central 2023: Wrap

Returning to Chicago for Acen is a no-brainer this year. Not just for Pequod’s or some good Italian beef, but for Tadokoro Azusa, Tanaka Rie, Kubo Yurika, and Ichinose Kana. I mean, dang, any con that makes me list Ichinose Kana as the 4th largest headline-getter seiyuu guest is doing something spicy.

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We’re Going to Master of Idol World 2023

For long time readers of this blog, you might recall back in 2013-2014 I did some stuff to prepare for Master of Idol World 2014. After that I wrote something like, 13 thousand words to try to sum up the experience. I am doing nowhere nearly as much this time. Why? Because I don’t have to. Flower stands are not allowed, and instead we have these Bandai Namco-sanctioned flags that you can fund, and there are at least several oversea Producer ones. I joined probably the most popular one of those, which looks great by the way.

I don’t have to plan a big meet up after the show, because charitable Japanese and Oversea Producers are doing it, so I am just going to theirs. It is definitely a different world in 2023 versus 2014. I might even have multiple things that I could go do, I don’t know, just not too focused on it.

The difference to me, I think, is mostly on me–I just don’t have that much time and attention span lately to spend on this stuff. I play some mobile games…and it’s already too much. I guess I only seriously play Theater Days, and even then that is a very light load. I sorta-serious play JP Priconne and semi-casually play Global Priconne, but those combined is still a light load. JP literally runs 5-10 minutes a day and up to 30 for CB, while Global is not much more. I’m so behind on those games too in terms of commu and what have you. I have a love-hate relationship with Blue Archive still, but I think I have to shed this game despite it being occasionally fun and frustrating. And it’s a light-weight game as these things go, being largely a Priconne clone.

All this is to say I still watch a bunch of anime, but even then that’s always kind of the struggle, since as long as I have been watching seasonal anime. I guess we are in February, where I don’t have any Baseball to watch and there’s just 1 game left in the NFL schedule. Speaking of which, is there a bar or somewhere in Tokyo where I can crew up to watch the Superb Owl and all the dumb ads? I guess I can do it in a hotel room (or, more likely, at the airport) thanks to unplugged television services, but it isn’t the same (at 8am).

When the NFL is the only main thing on my mind during MOIW weekend, is a good thing. There are other logistical items to note, at least some out of many:

  • The buppan (goods sale) area spans 3 separate locations this time–Tokyo Dome, The Science Museum (near Budokan), and Kanda Square (about 10-15 minutes walk from the Museum). Looks like Tokyo Dome won’t have all of the stuff, and the heavy lifting is going to be at Kanda Square. The music CD stuff will be at the Science Museum. Along with the lottery on ticket time, this could be tricky for folks wanting to pick up stuff. I haven’t had much time to look through the goods list, but there are a few things I want.
  • I’m going to an Asaka concert on Friday, just to get the juices going. Also Asaka with a live band is always a fun time.
  • I’m going to Lonesome_Blue’s first show on Saturday, so this is going to be tricky trying to get tickets out before MOIW lol. I hope I can make it from Shibuya timely and meet everyone. Ideally the day before.
  • Tokyo Dome has an amusement complex attached to it. There’s a MLB cafe. There’s the JP Baseball Hall of Fame museum. There’s a Ferris wheel…? A lot of stuff there. There is a collab with IM@S that weekend at the various shops there. This means I can literally line up for Shake Shack and get, I don’t know, an imas sticker or something. The details are all online.
  • After MOIW weekend I am going to have a proper vacation while shepherding my folks around town in Japan. That’s also on my mind.
  • And on a similar note I have to go to l-tike and buy tickets to Ghibli Park on the 10th, for May. Sigh.
  • For fandom extra-curriculars, besides the meetings after the show, there are some producers doing a display at a rental office/meeting space, and the usual call guide handouts at several locations.
  • At some point I should at least learn all the group songs, especially the SideM ones. Pretty sure I got 765Pro All Stars and Million down pat. For Cinderella Girls, I watched their show from November on live stream, so that’s something. I don’t know any Deremas calls for anything 2019 and onward, though. Now that calls are unbanned, Ps are gonna yell out loud. Do Shiny Colors even have calls besides Urya-Oi LOL. I’m pretty much up to date on Shiny except maybe just the latest series.

Did you know that same weekend has a ton of other events? It’s the weekend before Valentine’s Day. It doesn’t really matter to the Ps out there I guess. Worse comes to worse, there’s a stream and an archive viewing.

I think going to see all the IM@S happening in Tokyo is exactly the kind of escape and relief I need. I hope to see some of you there? This is like a very perverse victory lap.

THE IDOLM@STER Million Live! 9th Live Impressions, Thoughts

After the missing years of COVID, I was able to return and attend a Million Live solo show. Before 9th, I attended stops of 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 2 stops of 6th.

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Anime Frontier 2022: Wrap; And Some Additional Thoughts

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.

Anime NYC 2022: Wrap

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.

I gave away a bunch of these Minami Saki photo books. They come with a DVD. Not sure how many people even know her at this con... Why do I have these? Someone gave them to me lol.

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?