Category Archives: Conventions and Concerts

Re: AX’s Flower Stands & Call Books

These thoughts are related to the ongoing production of some fan projects for this year’s Anime Expo. It is more akin to long-ass-subtweet level of snark but at the same time I try to offer at least a more honest look at what practically, on some level, introspection would at least bring you. These blurbs do refer to some ongoing things that some of you might not be aware of, and some of the things I say may not make a lot of sense if you don’t know what I’m referring to. But I guess that’s just par for the course right? Lastly, think of the below 2 entries as two parts in a long series of why we can’t have nice things.

Continue reading

Anime Next 2017: Wrap

This was a fun time in Atlantic City, partly because we had a pretty nice crew going and it was well-supported by everyone. Thanks for everyone who made it happen, and big thanks to the con for bringing together the guests and being able to put on a mostly competent event! I also have to give massive thanks to the 30 or so people at my panel, thanks for showing up! Super thanks for the wota demo yall.

The reason why I had a good time, indirectly, can be traced to the fact that seiyuu Ueda Reina was here as a guest. She came as a group with the series director for ReLIFE, Kosaka Tomochi, and character designer Yamanaka Junko. I guess director Tomochi’s signature work was Yowamushi GR OP, and Nobunaga no Shinobi for Yamanaka. Ueda Reina got Bakuon as a nod. It seemed like, from the panels, that Kosaka had a lot to say, so it was a little sad that she didn’t get to do it as about half of the panel was Q&A and the other half was presenting materials from ReLIFE. I’m guessing this only happened because TMS arranged it to be like that.

The two panels for ReLIFE were run in a scripted style. Ueda Reina was the MC, who did the thing in a very standard JP event style. You have to also give props to the interpreter for keeping it up. The two panels were also more or less the same, which both had a live sketch portion with the result sketch being offered to the person who beat Ueshama in rock paper scissors.

I don’t have a lot to add to the stuff involving Ueda Reina. In person, she’s pretty much what I expected, a lively and expressive woman with some, uh, inaka tendencies. They call her Uebaba for a good reason. She’s also a little dorky, which adds to her charm. Or I should say, there may be a thin line between awkward and charming, but she always lands on the right side of the line. Those of you who know her knows her, I guess, and it is a joy just to be able to share this weekend with her even in this limited way.

It’s even more of a joy to share the weekend with all the others who appreciate her, and some of the eventing tigers that somehow makes up my greater circle of acquaintances and second degree acquaintances via others. I ran a panel about events, but some friends ran a panel about wota. I guess these days they go hand in hand even in the States. We watched some Million Live 3rd this weekend, but also did an episode of HPTalk, which I should post soon…

There weren’t a lot of silly things that happened, our Ueshama kaigai TO-type bought gifts and flowers to get his Umimi POP signed, but outside of that it wasn’t all that.

I ended up at the con Thursday night, so I can wake up at a reasonable time and work most of the day Friday. I actually ditched work to go to the Trigger panel and came back to wrap up. It worked out well enough since I brought some food with me. Seeing the schedule having that free time helped a lot. The two Trigger panels were good, especially the Friday one where the crowd watched Infernal Cop on some dinky projectors. Dinky because they weren’t elevated enough and you can’t see anything once people stood up to sing “America ga daisuki” which…well.

The second Trigger panel was the LWA focus panel. I missed the first half of it because I thought I wouldn’t make it into the panel room due to full-ness, as it took place right after the TMS panel. I came back to it after a bit and sat in the back. There was great regret because I actually read up on LWA animator Handa before and missed out on the quiz (with Imaishi autograph on the line): what’s Handa’s debut work? It was Hanamaru Yochien but I said Panty Stocking (which was his second IIRC). The hard part was getting picked, but I got picked.

I also swung by the Capcom Live concert on Sunday, although just for the last third. They snuck in a couple anime songs that I got a to hear, Guren no Yumiya and One Piece… Their lead singer was pretty cool. The video game music part, that was pretty good, even if there was only one Rockman track…

I actually walked the dealer room/artist alley this time, but nothing struck me as very interesting. Not that many vendors to begin with.

Anyways, it was a fun con. I took it easy; so did everyone more or less. I even went to the Otabrew stop there, and it helped that a con higherup was helping the coordination. Found a couple beers that I liked, even (mostly the Equilibrium Photon Citrus). It was also good to hang with a crowd I normally don’t see.

PS. I was able to walk around a bit this year to get bites, but I ended up at Wingcraft twice again. I did go to the pho place behind the Bass Pro Shop and it was solid, if albeit a tad higher priced than expected due to the location. I think some people wanted to go to the conbini where Ueshama said she got a hot dog from but I don’t really know if that’s such a good idea, LOL. So she says, according to her, that’s a very American thing to do, to walk around town while eating a hot dog. Photo was taken (not with hot dog in hand) while walking back from Pho; there was a bike tournament on Sunday, which was oddly still related to our guest of honor.

Eventer Life? Brainstorming for a Panel

I’m presenting a panel at AnimeNext 2017, down in Atlantic City, in June. It’s going to be more of the nuts and bolts about eventing, like what to do if you want to go to something. Just going to start getting prepared, and by that I mean I have all the ingredients in the fridge already, but it’s time to do some prep and put stuff on the back burner to let the grey matter do its thing.

To me eventing is like a pillar of the JP visual modern cultural complex, no different than, well, anime/manga/games or what have you. But much like a breakdown chart of the “anime industry” by the AJA splitting out the percent revenue each sector of the industry represents, eventing was not a fully recognized pillar, so to speak, until more recently. We can talk about licensing of anime or the sales of merchandise or the licensing of merchandise from anime, in great details (as this is a big thing historically), but it’s rather difficult to talk about this aspect of eventing. Part of it is because it’s kind of difficult to talk about, much like making a late-night TV anime, where the same result may be across different IP, but the motivation and the business model may be quite different from one to the next.

I think it’s easier to read and quote directly from the 2016 report. It’s a little more informative than the prior years anyways.

<Major Breakthrough of Live Entertainment>
Live anime‐related entertainment continued to make important breakthroughs. The market doubled in
the past three years since 2013 when the survey started, and recorded revenues of 52.3 billion yen in
2015, increasing by 68.4 % over the previous year. This increase, which may partially be attributed to
improved accuracy of surveying methods, was also significantly associated with the rapid growth of
overall domestic live entertainment markets, especially the growth of music market (i.e. revenues of
music concerts, stage performances, plays etc., including live entertainment related to animation). The
market size, which was 333.4 billion yen in 2012, became 503 billion yen, increasing by 51% over the
past three years.
At the same time, non‐staged live entertainment, such as anime museums, anime exhibitions and anime
cafés are also doing well. Although revenues of non‐staged live entertainment fall far short of those of
staged live entertainment, the field still makes constant progress. Animation is shifting from a thing to
be watched to a thing to be experienced, and the non‐staged live entertainment, which offers a feeling of
belonging to consumers, will continue to expand.
The sales amount arising from merchandise sold on‐site (i.e. concerts, events, museums and exhibitions)
is not included in the values in this report. If such revenues are included, and in some cases such they
exceed ticket revenues, the live entertainment market size may reach 10 billion yen or more..

(Click on chart for more readable version.)

The business of eventing is also not that interesting, as you can see. In a sense as a seiyuu otaku, I mostly care about the mechanism that enables, for example, Uma Musume, to exist in the degree that puts some notable IDOLM@STER names in the same production. But I know how a mobile game IP works, to a degree, and even if I don’t know, I am familiar with the way these CD albums have been released and that the voice actresses are a huge draw and reason why people care about a game that doesn’t even exist yet. And that’s probably all that I need to know at this point. Oh there will be an Uma Musume anime soon, too.

I don’t need to know, for example, that the Sailor Moon live action musicals are often sell out shows. And this is why you could have seen Asumiss dress up as a Persona 3 character in the stage play. Or ZAQ as Aegis. Or why maybe Wake Up Girls did a show earlier this year and I can’t buy the blu-ray (easily) because of Avex’s export restriction. Or why there are a bijillion theme cafes in Tokyo. Or why the Panties & Stocking Cafe is in Kobe.

Eventing in Japan, as the data above shows, is really just that. And anisong and seiyuu events have been happening for decades before AJA put it into its own category. I still missed out on watching those Sakura Taisen kayo shows, and would like to go once before it’s really too late. The “seiyuu idol” boom started in the 90s, with the likes of Hekiru Shiina and what have you, and those while counted more towards the bucket of traditional music industry stuff, today the market is sophisticated enough to know that a yen of Wake Up, Girls! money is different than a yen that Mizuki Nana brings in.

But it’s a lot less complicated than that. Zooming in, I went to Japan to see a concert because of various reasons. Maybe it’s an once-in-a-lifetime show. Maybe you want to go to every show your favorite artist puts on. Maybe because it’s a good time. Whatever. From there, we take a sequence of steps to take us from where we live our daily lives to a place at a time where the stuff happens. We can walk that path, but I think my panel is going to describe it and put it into words first.

And that’s not even all. If eventing is a way of life, it’s beyond just going to concerts or events or musicals. A good example or parallel is how a lot of American fans who go to anime conventions. They might go to one or three a year, and as they ramp up their prep to the show, there is excitement. There is the social and the prep aspect of it that is similar to how one might prepare to go to Japan from overseas, but there is also things like cosplay, making a panel, or what have you leading up. It could even be sharing the experience over social media, running an offkai, or just have that knowledge to share and help others to have a better time at the event, may it be AX or Anisama.

In a way that’s all nice and well, and there is no way to cover all of that in one hour. The more important thing, maybe, is to convey both the narrow specifics and lay out the big picture for people to explore on their own. It’s kind of hard to come up with a compelling thread to tie it together, though. I mean how do I explain how a frugal otaku becoming someone who wholesale-buy boxes of CDs for event lotteries…

PS. The 2016 English summary from AJA has 2  things I want to call out. First, the chart doesn’t really point out what live event, in the bottom graph regarding the “limited” scope, means. Second, they singled out anime music, which I kind of nod towards in that what’s a dollar for a DiveIIx81Produce project means versus, say, a normal concert by a normal musician under a major label. When someone gets, I don’t know, X Japan, to do a show at an oversea anime con, where does that money count towards? Or Man with a Mission with their one anime song? Are they just calling anime music events the ones that are typically billed as such (such as Anisama, Animax & Lisani)?

PPS. What does this count as?

Japan Trip March 2017

So I went to Japan for about 12 days in early March. You might be interested in some of the things I did?

Continue reading

Million Live 4th: Thank You for Smile

The Fourth Anniversary live for Million Live, for me, was something about me and less about IDOLM@STER Million Live. Kokochan said it during her final MC on day 2, that the idols are a reflection of the producers. In a way that’s why I think the show is only good as the emotional baggage you’re carrying into Budokan. If you are a die-hard ML producer then ML4th will reach stratospheric sublime territory. I thought ML 3rd was already very good, but 4th topped it in a way where only a 3-day, closely knit-together rollercoaster could. I think it was only possible because there are still a very solid group of Ps cheering them on in the usual ways.

On the technical side of things, ML4th did some stuff well, such as opening up the northeast and northwest seats, which gives people a sense of being there while not being there to see the same show the rest of the venue does. It did well with sending us the right surprise guests, in a very no-nonsense way, which is exactly what works best. You can complain about the acoustics on day 3 but day 1 and day 2 were pretty okay. Most importantly the way the stage was set up, there are very few bad seats in Budokan.

IM@S DB has the set list, and more importantly, all the performers. Day 1, day 2, day 3. For handy social media coverage (the performers and fans cover the event best), check out the matomes for day 1, day 2 and day 3.

Continue reading