Category Archives: Conventions and Concerts

Eventing 2017

[Last year’s event log here. Last update December 27]

This is a blog post that will keep track of the nerd events I’m attending in 2017. It will be updated over time to add/delete and update the status of the events I plan to attend or have attended. If you’re going to one of these, feel free to let me know ahead of time.

Continue reading

Anime NYC 2017: Wrap

Anime NYC came and went. This is the closest hometown con to me even though I live like, 20+ miles away and it takes over an hour for me to get there on any given day. It’s closest because I work about 20 minutes away by foot, so I was able to duck out of work and go to the con on Friday, and manage to go home Saturday to spend time with family who was visiting, and still come back to the con late in the day. It’s definitely a different perspective for me, to judge Anime NYC as a personal experience versus other cons I visit. Even with AnimeNext in AC, it’s a little too far to be “convenient.”

As a con, it’s basically the resurrection or reincarnation of New York Anime Fest. The venue is the same, and that alone will draw all the comparisons. The con runners overlap a lot, but what else are you going to do running a big con in the same geographic area? The pricing and VIP perks and all that stuff overlaps, for more or less the same aforementioned reasons. What’s interesting is that a non-trivial number of people I talked to this weekend didn’t even know or went to NYAF, so this is kind of a constant reminder of how young the con eventer scene is in North America.

The con can be broken into a few tracks. Princess Principal, Gundam Thunderbolt, Sailor Moon, Anisong Divas, and Overwatch. There’s also the usual industry and panel stuff. There was a special screening of the FMA live action movie with even special intro videos. Other than the anisong stuff I didn’t really care much, although on the merits alone, the Gundam Thunderbolt show was definitely top notch. The anime was great (I’m up to date on it), and the live performances is very much reminiscent of what Cowboy Bebop was. The musicians (pianist and drummer) are the star here, and the composer merely play along on the sax. The two singers are great too. The kawaii song is, well, kawaii.

Well, obviously I’m here for the Anisong diva night show. It’s brought to you by the team that produced the two Anisong Matsuri events in the States, and the one in Shanghai. It’s good! I got some songs I always wanted to hear live checked off, namely everything Chihi sang. Yonekura is very veteran, as it goes. Ishida Yoko I had the good fortune to see several times over the course of her career so her part was less novel but nonetheless very enjoyable–finally, Strike Witches opening… True obviously is the centerpiece here I think, partly because she is someone who is still on the upward trajectory and still very new given everything. It’s a little obvious that they were pushing True. I saw her for the third time this year, so I have some familiarity at this point. I like how each artist saved their best for last and it gave the show a kind of climax rather than just ups and downs from one artist to the next. Collab-wise, Cruel Angel Thesis and God Knows are kind of just OK, but Just Communication between the two Gundam anisong singers was good.

I was able to sneak into the Q&A panel just earlier in the day before the live, as I had to ditch work early. Hosted by Danny Choo, it was kind of interesting, I guess, although most of it was just Choo asking kind of basic questions that are common to these kinds of panels. I liked that they sort of winged it and on a certain level it feels like True is on par with the two veterans. It’s kind of reassuring to know, and I’m sure True is kind of playing it safe here too. Well, I have formed kind of an opinion on her at this point, and you can ask me in person if interested.

What else at this con? I guess I can talk about some con-stuff while describing how the autograph sessions went. All the “free” sessions are ticketed, which require you to either line up early to pick up from the autograph giveout that starts at 8am the day of, or via the Premiere/VIP badge perk, which gives you 4 tickets outright (4 different ones). The Gundam Thunderbolt sessions required purchasing a CD I believe, or unless you also have the concert VIP package. (By the way I gave Chihi and Ishida their old CDs which was very “natsukashii” and all. I had True sign my Shinso ongaku ensokai 4 towel.)

The confusion on VIP badge value (priced at $275 + fees) was that the perks, which included front seats and other benefits (like a special lanyard and a messenger bag (which seemed to be well-regarded)), overlapped with the concert-only VIP packages, which also gave additional perks (high-five kai for Diva Night and autograph session + CD for Gundam Thunderbolt). I don’t think I picked the wrong choice by going pleb, since the outlay is at least $100 less than the VIP set, and I got the high-touch kai benefit (VIPs don’t get this perk…but some I know did because there were some confusion and staff did not enforce well). I ended up camping for autograph tickets on Saturday, which kind of did suck, but it was not a bad camp. Like, I only had to wake up at 4:30am, so it was easy mode relatively as temperature remained above freezing.

I might get the VIP badge next year if there are enough good guests to cause some camping conflicts, I guess. As is, everything else at the con seems to run smoothly enough and the size of the con is manageable, so one can probably live without.

Loot-wise, I gave up and bought a LP of the Thunderbolt OST and got that signed by the dude. It was a token thing but in retrospect I was glad that I did, since their show was off the hook. I also got a sign from the Princess Principal director since that anime is pretty okay and the guy has done a bunch of other things.

I wasn’t able to do a lot of hanging around unless you were at the autograph line on Saturday early afternoon or morning, since I had work Friday and familial obligations Saturday and Sunday. It was kind of rough not seeing everyone I wanted to say hello to, so apologies! Also I wasn’t feeling so good Friday and most of Saturday so I had to take it easy in terms of eating, which limited my social options. Oh well.

Overall, despite being a first year con, Anime NYC is basically the second coming of NYAF. It’s got some rough edges as expected of a first year con but I think stuff will smooth out quickly. I’d go again if the guests are right.

Let’s end with some tweets.

You can see Yaz in these, she’s one of the key organizers for con anisong events! If you see her not busy at a con you can say hello I guess.

Anime Weekend Atlanta 2017: Wrap

AWA came and went. I was in the middle of another “eventing sprint” so to speak, this time things felt rather last-minute. In August I did 2 weekends back to back: Anirevo in Vancouver, then Otakon, and after one more gap weekend I went to Anisama (didn’t want to make Animefest to become a 4-in-a-row). In September I attended a nerd wedding (which I guess isn’t so bad other than for sleep) and related stuff, AWA, and Hotch Potch Festival in Japan the week after. In other words, I was dying. So dead, I wasn’t able to finish this post until well after Hotch Potch.

Main interests at AWA this year was Luna Haruna, Bless4, and Ueda Kana. Bonus was Daoko and being to catch some miscellaneous guests like Takahashi Taku, Hanafugetsu, the Strike Witches guys, and the veteran Naruto seiyuu folks. I whiffed completely on the last group, but I already saw two of them before at other cons. Also, it’s always nice to hang out with other folks and see some new people.

This post is gonna be brief, because I forgot a lot of the finer details to bemuse on.

Continue reading

Eventer Police Meta

I think it’s generally expected that people behave like sensible, mature adults. But I don’t know if that is always the best course of action or the most interesting thing to do in all cases. More importantly, it’s not a realistic expectation.

I’m just going to sound off on this post a bit. Please read it if you haven’t yet.

Of the online reaction to “yakkai” this past week as a result of people complaining over little things there are a lot of things I personally reacted to, or found noteworthy.

  • Police exists in EN Love Live community. I want to know how it started, what people felt had to happen, etc. I don’t really keep tabs on the Japan side of things for Love Live, but I think the JP LL Police types have a hard time. Doubly so for oversea LL Police types? But wait, why does oversea LL Police even exist?
  • People don’t even know what yakkai is but they’re using the term, which I think is why Rop posted the second post partly.
  • It’s not a 1% of anything is trash kind of thing. It’s about leadership and fostering maturity within the fandom I think. Yes, there will always be some bad apples and the whine will always be highly visible, but there are still some “good” and “bad” fandoms, and what separate them is not statistics, but people investing into their community in a positive and mature way.
  • People don’t even know the context of things. Rop’s post gives a continuum, but I think it’s only really applicable for Japan. It’s not the case over in the USA at least–most people, after all, have not been eventing in Japan, so it would be pretty hard to explain to people how it works conceptually this way. More importantly, there are a lot of layers (not inclusive list)–
    • Live is not the same as a live viewing. Watching something in a movie theater necessarily mean you can’t do certain things you could in the live, and you could certain things you can’t in the live.
    • There’s a big picture fandom perspective that, obviously, some people don’t care about. Like, it’s fine to ietaiger, it’s not going to hurt anyone. But it’s not good to do things I mentioned in this post, that I saw people do at my LL2nd viewing. It’s not just dangerous, but that level of “bothersome behavior [TL Note: Yakkai]” causes problem for the management, not just other attendees. It’s not about presenting the fandom as good or uniform, but you don’t want to cause problems to the organizers, if you want them to keep doing live screenings?
    • Should fans from different countries and cultures behave the same as Japanese fans anyway? I don’t think it has to be like that.

To me, I don’t/can’t really talk about this without taking about it in the meta as well. So one meta here is that Rop is kind of a police type, if you didn’t know him and just read the 2 blog posts he wrote. It’s a pretty clear bias. It’s not a problem or an issue–he currently resides in Japan and Japanese society is rather police-like overall already, so it is only expected to hear him take a more harmonious view. I think however that is something of a lowest-common-denominator kind of approach to this.

Appealing to authority and making artists sad are also things I don’t really care for in the general context–these are things that Rop build his arguments on, at some level. The consumption of art is personal ultimately. Sure, fans should behave like, well, mature and sensible adults. But from an individualist view, I don’t really think it’s a big deal to cause a ruckus. That’s like the foundation of live performances for some scenes. Of course, it’s as Rop describes, it’s a spectrum. Even in America people need to not KY, but at the same time the level of forgiveness is a lot higher, the tolerance for violence is higher, and these kinds of things don’t “ruin” fandoms and people over here as easily.

I think it’s also a lot simpler than that. Manipulating fandom is easier when the artist gets involved, and if you need to keep fans within lines, that’s one way to do it. I think Anisama in 2017 sort of tried to do it their own way, and while it might be hamfisted (the initial rules they put out caused some online complaints), the method employed suggests they respect the attendee’s freedom to house tiger or do things along those lines. From a management perspective, they want to crack down on the craziest fans and the people who go too deep into the meta, by heading them off before things cross the line into the totally-unacceptable.

Speaking of which, Anisama, for those people who’d play the yakkai game, is its own game for “creative” expressions. What Rop’s informative posts don’t explain are some of the context behind the behavior–why do people run around during Days of Dash? Because it’s Anisama and it’s pretty awesome, the song works with it. And it’s one of those things people end up doing at anikura/wotagei events subsequently, thanks to Anisama. Anisama’s yakkai stuff, sometimes, is what I’d call clearly right and proper side of things. It is its own game, even if it breaks the rules (spoken and unspoken) sometimes.

Of course, you shouldn’t do all of these, to an extent, because the purpose of Anisama is the performers and the live, but performance art is both for artists and audiences, and I think any pro musician has to respect this on some level. Personally I think it’s okay to be yakkai if it will lead to a net positive outcome, so take that as you will. (This applies not just to concerts, but life in general, don’t you think?)

A good example of what I mean is touching the performer–it’s okay to try to high-five them as they walk past, but don’t make it an opt-out instead of an opt-in, if you know what I mean. Which, I guess, goes to why a lowest-common-denominator approach is sensible–because you can’t expect wotas to not be KY and follow common sense and be mature, etc. The online responses of some folks as a fallout of the Love Live 2nd viewing doesn’t do a lot to prove that stereotype wrong.

Which is just to say, the damage of house tiger is way less than the people reacting to yakkai. It is kind of silly to blow it up online, since the perceived damage, to me, is much worse than just some people yelling during a live viewing. I mean here is Rop, a guy in Japan and didn’t go to any of the viewings in North America, telling how some eventers should to behave, only because you made a ruckus online? LOL. I do appreciate his educational posts but at the same time, like my posts, they’re more for people who probably don’t need to read them in order to feel persuaded to make an attitude change. Ultimately, it takes a level of maturity and sense of responsibility, as well as a degree of not being too KY. These are not qualities that a person can be “persuaded” into having. You are either one of those kind of people, or not. Hopefully Father Time will give you a good teaching as you get older if you are not already one of those people.

PS. It’s totally OK to wave non-penlights/towels at Anisama. I waved a banana for Angela at Anisama, during Aho Girl’s Zenryoku Summer, because they did it in the PV and used it as a cyalume. And I saw at least 3 other folks who did too (out of possibly thousands). Use your judgment–it shouldn’t be that hard.

Hotch Potch Festival

The IDOLM@STER ran a 2-day live event where the 765Pro All Stars and the Million Stars collaborated on two nights of live performances. The info from the official site is here. This blog post is me trying to describe and unpack what there is to unpack from my little feeble brain. God knows I am not really steep into lore (the type who would look down on people because I produced Hibiki from the Arcademas days, as the joke goes–that joke is also an example of what kind of unpacking I will be doing here) so this is just a fraction of what’s made up of Hotch Potch Festival.

Conceptually on paper, or at least as the live pamphlet and the live MC go, Hotch Potch is about a nabe where good ingredients gets put into the pot, and some ingredients are synergistic. Maybe some are not, and maybe even worse some counteract. The idea is if the nabe is good, all the ingredients are playing some role(s) to improve the experience.

Of the 52 Million Live + OG guys, 48 are present. We didn’t have Tanechan, Ibuibu (who was in Okinawa as part of Everying final tour), Matsuda Arisa’s Rietion, and our favorite baseball tomboy represented by UK-Mrs. Trunks. Tanechan’s outage continues, and I believe this seals Jireha, Blue Symphony and Thank You @ Budokan. Originally I thought they’d do at least Thank You, but nope.

On paper, this combine live between Million Stars and 765Pro All Stars is an extension of what IM@S Taiwan has done. This means we’ll get 765Pro classics, and some of the Million Live songs that originally features 765Pro idols. On top of that we might get a new song (ToP!!!!!!!!!!!!! namely) and some fun collabs.

Well, I guess that’s exactly what we got, in hindsight. But what we got was not what we expected. Or at least, I don’t think anyone expected Ai LIKE Hamburger, Merry, or Honey Heartbeat. I didn’t think anyone would have called Sweet Sweet Soul, Kyouki Ranbu, or “Surprise! It’s Aimi on guitar!”

Before I go too far off the rails, here is the set list for both days (25 songs each) and the last time since they were performed by IM@S. Merry was last performed in IM@S 5th, so that’s 7 years since. Smile Taisou is runner up (I mean, OMG?) as it was last done during 6th. My own favs like Little Match Girl and Hamburger were last done during Festival of Winter and 8th, just over 1700 and 1400 days ago respectively.

This factor alone was dynamite. Not only was the surprise you experience in person something to grapple with, the fact that your IM@S bucket list is being checked off was another thing to deal with. It can also be hard to grasp the significance sometimes, like hearing Curtain Call again–last performed since 10th–or realizing Hasegawa Akiko and Kugimiya Rie are the only two original singers, AND 765Pros, who have now performed 99 Nights?

Just to sum up this intro thought, the one feeling I got from Hotch Potch Festival is “pushing” or “continuity” in having Million Live perform with the 765Pros. It might just be my cynicism. It might also be that when I see the Taiwan set, I see that it is a “best of” of Million and 765Pro with a couple bones thrown in there (Jungle Party and Persona Voice) for Million Ps hankering for that 765Pro crossover. That was entirely appropriate (if not the best) approach for Taiwan. For a domestic show, though, there are so many ways to do this live, that a “hotch potch” approach might be invariably what comes out of. That the only real gap was not having 765Pros do their assigned Million songs in the way that Million Ps would probably want to see (like, where’s my 5p Eternal Harmony?). Instead we got a lot of top Million sets in the show, and we were able to see the Millions do some cool 765Pro songs–stuff they could have also done during the Million Live solo shows as Million 1st and 3rd had.

Don’t get me wrong. The result here is quite desirable and I would not have minded either way how things turned out. If anything, that both days the show clocked in at about 4 hours was the real problem–I wanted more, a lot more. There are a handful of songs they could have done to wrap things up better, but probably couldn’t due to logistics. Some songs, as I mentioned earlier, were sealed by who wasn’t there. There were not enough time of the day, in a way, to do all the songs we’d like. Every incarnation of this vidja idol nabe had to have some stuff saved for the future, and some stuff cut as compromise. Such is how it is.

Continue reading