Hello to all my readers,
I actually just finished fixing up my computer t0 a usable state after getting it back from the Apple Shop. But the highlight of this weekend was yet another short trip to Tokyo to attend the annual Tokyo Anime Fair. The fair takes place roughly during the same time every year, but this year it started on Thursday March 19th and ended on Saturday March 21st. The fair is first and foremost a business convention where members of the anime business meet each other for networking etc. The first 2 days only allow press and staff in, and the only events are key note speeches. The remaining 2 days are where all the fans rush to see the displays and try and pick up on the new announcements. Read on as I cover my long long journey! O… and I apologize for the pictures in advance, just simply too many people (120,000 attendance) to take pictures without people’s heads in my lens.
So I’ve been grumbling about how expensive the bullet trains were all the time. I finally decided to do something about it by taking some alternate transportation, the “High Speed Bus”. The buses were absolutely atrocious, especially the ones that operated out of Nagoya. The ones that operated out of Tokyo were much better. Also, the quality varies greatly between bus companies, so maybe I just got shafted :(. If you can help it, avoid these buses like the plague. Thankfully, their procedure is also rather simple and foreigner friendly. To ride one of these buses, you need to visit a travel agent at any train shop, they help coordinate the loads between different companies and do a great job in finding you a seat.
On the night of the bus, register with the people in the yellow parkas at your assigned meeting location, and then get on the bus they tell you the number for. Unfortunately, they put me on the wrong bus once, and I’m still bitter about that :P. Thank god, they realized and switched me back to the right bus. Also, the meeting times are all usually around 11am, so when you arrive in Tokyo it will roughly be 5:30Am.
This year’s anime fair is in the Tokyo Big Sight as usual, so to head there. First, take the Yamanote Line south from Tokyo station and get off at Shimbashi. The Yamanote Line is running even at 6:00am, and there are a significant number of people riding it too. It blew my mind.
Next, transfer to the Yurikamome monorail to travel straight to the convention center. The station itself has a whacked out name that I cannot remember, but it’s also sublabelled Big Sight, so you shouldn’t get lost.
So by the time I took that last picture and made my way inside it was 6:00AM. I thought to myself, I’m friggin 4 hours early to the expo because I have nothing better to do. Clearly I’m going to be the first person in and get all the limited edition freebies and event tickets. Not so fast, look at the following picture and share a collective WTF moment with me.
Well lesson learned, next time I have to be even earlier, sigh. There were a number of events held for the fans on that day ranging from advanced screeners of the first episode of the new Valkyria Chronicles anime, Full Metal Alchemist anime, panels with the anime creators, or autograph sessions, etc. The whole event is completely chaotic as most of the events are not even listed in the guide book. For the most part, if you wish to attend the listed events, you need to be EARLY and you need to plan your route so you pick up all the admission tickets before hand. I was still somewhat early and managed to attend the Shimokawa Mikuni concert and the Avex Trax live event, featuring other artists. They handed out the last Valkyria Chronicles ticket just as I got to the booth, making me a very sad person.
Well onto the highlights of some of these booths. The fairs are really about the booths with displays to promote their newly announced anime or upcoming anime. First off! Good Smile Company!
Looks like their upcoming figure lineup is quite robust. They didn’t show anything that they didn’t show before, but this is the first time that I’ve seen Black Rock Shooter and a couple of their figures in real life. Those were absolutely amazing, I’m really really considering to get my own Black Rock Shooter figure.
Next up, Satelight Studios! I love these guys for their work on Macross Frontier, but they’ve really risen to the forefront of using 3DCG in anime. Their works include Sousei no Aquarion, Noein, Shugo Chara, Macross Zero, and Hellsing. Their booth basically announced a new anime Basquatch, which is their version of a future extreme sport. I honestly thought the whole thing was a bit dumb, but then I stumbled upon these original artist piece collection, which was limited to a total number of 50. These don’t look like copies at all, they look like actual sketches pulled out from the artists’ binders. I’ll have them documented in the loot post! Stay tuned.
Next, we have of course Aniplex. Probably the second largest company booth on the show floor with titles like Gurren Lagann and the upcoming Full Metal Alchemist series. They literally made the inside of their booth into a Full Metal Alchemist art museum. International fair goers were all over this booth. The Gurenn Lagann promo was just to mainly showcase their upcoming sequel to the first movie, but I’m fairly sure its a recap movie.
Then I encountered this weird booth. The booth was literally all about one anime, with the anime emphasized more than the company. I think it’s a terrible idea to put all your eggs in one basket, especially if your anime is based off of a pachinko game. Yep, I’m talking about Umi no Monogatari. I did end up getting their limited edition promo DVD, which I’ll try and rip later, a promo card, and their nice sturdy paper bag.
O and if you find their rare shells in the sand of their booth, you can also claim a special prize. The anime has great great art, though the trailer looks SUPER cheesy. However, it is being directed by the person who directed Aria, so maybe it has some promise.
I can’t remember which booth this was, but it was a perfect example of the chaos of the event. This seiyuu, who I believe is Nonaka Ai, voices Shishidou Imoko in Sora wo Kakeru Shojo, and here she is signing a signboard with her character on it. There was apparently a whole even revolving around her, and I didn’t even realize it until I stumbled onto this.
We have a tiny booth from Shogakukan, which doesn’t make any sense as they literally publish almost all of the most popular manga and short novels in Japan. O you see these box sets of DVDs? They’ve been signed by the voice actors who’s characters are on the box art. Now if only they didn’t cost 70,000 yen each.
Kadokawa was also here in force promoting their Strike Witches, Haruhi-chan, and their new anime Shangri-la. The art for the new anime looks great, but there was no trailer for it at the show. Only posters.
Ah ha, my favorite/least favorite booth of the show. The biggest booth on the show floor by FAR, was China Animation. Except, their “anime” looks like what anime in Japan looked like in the 80’s and early 90’s. Some of the things they were showing were also incredibly derivative of existing titles. I guess I’m not the only one who felt that way, as that was the biggest booth yet had the least amount of traffic inside.
😛 Canadians must also represent themselves here! Though… I don’t know why they are here.
Studio 4C is also here in force. They set up the trailer to their newest anime film so you can use a pair of 3D glasses to give you a sense of depth to the trailer. I’m definitely looking forward to the new movie, but I can’t remember the name.
Next up is Media Factory, their most current show is Maria Holic, and I can’t remember what else they did, but they are fairly popular. They announced two new titles, which you can see on display in their booth.
AND of course Studio Ghibli. Totoro marks the spot. You can see the huge Totoro anywhere on the show floor to head towards their booth. Unfortunately, there was nothing special there. I swear they were just there so they could say they were there.
Geneon Entertainment also had a strong presence, but most of their booth was focused on announcing blu-ray releases of currently airing anime. That includes Rideback, my favorite anime for this season!
Of course Sunrise was there also. This year the theme of their booth was to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Gundam. Plastic Models and timelines all over their boot. They didn’t actually announce anything new after Gundam 00. In fact, their official marketing stance was, watch Gundam 00 to the end! More stuff happens!
I really need to label my photos. I can’t remember which booths I saw these at. Some of these new titles that were announced were truly messed, including one about an all girl’s Mahjong team, no wonder Gonzo is going out of business.
To wrap things up, this expo was really open to the public for the sake of using ticket sales to recoup costs. This fair is definitely worth attending if you are in Tokyo, but totally not worth attending if you need to travel a long distance for the sake of it. A lot of the new announcements were interesting, and seeing the booths was also great though. I learned that expos in Japan are about collecting as many freebies as possible though! I literally saw people who spent their entire time in the expo running from booth to booth to collect all the paper bags to the point that they were holding over 10 different ones.
I think I will probably pass on this event next year :(. It was interesting, but it wasn’t that interesting. Sorry that this post went on for so long, but a lot of stuff happened. Hope you all enjoy reading as well.