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Animation and Anime

AICN Anime - Anime Boston 2009 Report

Logo handmade by Bannister Column by Scott Green
Overview
Guests at Anime Boston 2009
Guest Implications
Looking Ahead
The Business
ADV Films
FUNimation
Aniplex
Live Action Anime
Panels
Please Save My Manga and Anime Genre Madness
Virtual Worlds Of Anime
Edogawa Rampo
Know Your Creators and Anime You Should See
Panel to the West
Nadeyanen!: The Finer points of Owarai Comedy
Mirth and Derision Panels
Other Coverage
Signoff

Overview

Any gripes that I'll express about Anime Boston 2009 are coming from the perspective of someone who has little interest in a number of the fundamental building blocks of an anime convention, such as musical performances, or, for that matter, being around throngs of young anime fans. The North East's premiere anime convention was a well optimized, well run example of the modern American anime event, with something for everyone and plenty for the above mentioned high school/undergrad aged fan. Accepting what anime conventions are, rather than lamenting what they aren't, and probably couldn't be, I'd say that Anime Boston 2009 was an extemporary occasion. The most notable change over last year's Anime Boston was that '09 avoided a repeat of the prior iteration's fiasco with registration, in which people were waiting for 4, 8, if you believe the accounts 10 or 12, hours to enter the event. This year, organizers at New England Anime Society contracted Expo Logic as its registration vendor in place of a proprietary system. "What this means for registration is that we will now have a professional built on-site database along with super fast registration equipment," said Jackie Lavache, Director of Registration for Anime Boston. "We will have access to better technology as well as on-hand professionals to keep things running smoothly." Using the same line for press registration pickup and customer service proved to be a minor nuisance for me personally, but from what I could tell, the general registration process functioned efficiently. I don't remember the metric I heard for people-processing, but I don't remember hearing any complaints either. The convention grew from 14,339 attendees to 15,438, attracted them on a weekend shared by Raleigh, NC's Animazement, Orlando's final JACON, Toronto's Anime North and San Jose's FanimeCon, and proceeded smoothly.

Guests at Anime Boston 2009

Musical Talent:

BESPA KUMAMERO - a digital techno performance unit comprised of Azumi (Vocals) and Monkichi (Programming/Guitar) Kalafina - vocal trio whose work includes the theme from "The Garden of Sinners" (Kara no Kyokai)
Yuki Kajiura - composer whose work is featured in anime including .Hack, Noir, and Garden of Sinner

Artists:

Robert DeJesus - writer, story creator, illustrator, storyboard artist and character designer for Studio Capsule Emily DeJesus - writer, editor, story creator and manager of Studio Capsule Misako Rocks! Onion's "Savage Love" column and more

Voice Talent:

Greg Ayres - Kaoru Ouran High School Host Club, Son Goku in Saiyuki, Kaworu Nagisa in the director's cut of Neon Genesis Evangelion, Chrono in Chrono Crusade Christopher Ayres - Kei Kourono in Gantz, Suitengu in Speed Grapher, Von Kampher in Trinity Blood and Hayashimizu in Full Metal Panic? Fummofu Laura Bailey - Kid Trunks in Dragonball Z, Shin in Shin Chan, Tohru Honda in Fruits Basket, Lust in Fullmetal Alchemist, Keiko in Yu Yu Hakusho. Sana in Kodocha. Marlene in Blue Gender, Oboro in Basilisk and Henrietta in Gunslinger Girl. Chun Li in Street Fighter IV
Troy Baker - Frank Archer in Full Metal Alchemist, Abel Nightroad in Trinity Blood, Gennosuke in Basilisk and Action Bastard in Shin Chan. He also can be heard in lead roles in Persona 4, Call of Duty 6, Ghost Busters and Red Faction: Guerrilla. Veronica Taylor Ash and May from "Pokemon" Max on "Dinosaur King", April on "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles", Carly on "Yu-Gi-Oh!5D's", Sheep on "Word World"

Industry Figures:

David Williams - ADR Director and DVD Producer for ADV Films Tom Wayland - producer for anime including Alien Nine, The World of Narue, Shootfighter Tekken and Ichi the Killer. Founded TripWire Productions and has gone on to direct numerous dubs for home video and TV broadcast including Mew Mew Power, Magical Do Re Mi and Pokemon.

Guest Implications

As with last year's convention, Anime Boston did not feature guests involved with the production side of anime (Aniplex producers were at this year's event, but not as listed guests). Maybe you could count Yuki Kajiura, but from what I saw, she didn't have much to say about anime or the process of working with it. The high water mark for Anime Boston anime guests probably came in 2007 with Yasuhiro Imagawa (Giant Robo, G Gundam, 2004's Tetsujin 28), Hiroshi Iwata (Macross: Do You Remember Love) and Junji Nishimura (Ranma 1/2, Kyo Kara Maoh!, Simoun) presenting an entertaining and personal look at the industry. As brilliant as that talk was, it probably packed in less than half the number of people that attended 09's "Bad Anime, Bad!" screening. Past '07, Anime Boston appears to have focused on making the event an event, a direction which has meant more performers and fewer creators. If the aim of a convention is to grow and attract more, young anime fans, I don't disagree that inviting musical performers and recognizable English language voice actors is the way to go. Historically a convention needed to host Japanese creators to be considered in the conversation with North America's major events, but where a convention once lacked prestige without that sort of guest, disinterest has pushed the notion of what a con should be away from that perception. The bulk of North American anime fans show little interest in anime/manga creators apart from a select few celebrities. If it isn't CLAMP, Satoshi Kon or Rumiko Takahashi, it's largely "don't know and don't care." Black Lagoon is a fairly popular title that's embraced enthusiastically by its fans. Though many would likely say that it's well directed anime, I'd guess that very few could tie the series to its director (Sunao Katabuchi) or the director to the series. Pulling the cons in their direction, not only are the attendees excited by what the conventions offer, they've developed faith in the package. Few were aware of Kalafina going into Anime Boston 09, but had a general idea of what to expect, anticipated seeing it and ultimately embraced the performers. Beyond its popularity and effectiveness, the voice actor/music/company rep combo appears to be difficult and/or expensive to break from. One of many lessons that were apparently underscored by the New England Anime Society's venture putting together a 21+ event, Providence Anime Conference, was that it isn't easy to depart from the standard roster of guests. After articulating the intension to bring in fresh voices, the events guests ultimately included a slate of anime convention usual suspects with Williams, Sheehan, Wayland, Christopher Ayres and Harmony Gold's (Robotech) public face, Kevin McKeever. If complementing the tried convention formula with other recognized authorities, academics or industry insiders has worked out, I haven't seen it. Beyond skewing young, the problem I see with the convention formula is that unless you are enthusiastic about seeing the turn over in musical acts, the events are repetitious. You can expect to see the same English language voice actors, same industry representatives and the same artists year after year, as if to suggest you're really only supposed to go to a few cons.

Looking Ahead

Anime Boston 2009 was a clear demonstration that the New England Anime Society has cleared the hurtle of handling an event with 15,000 attendees, and knows how to program for its key audience. For 2010, there's a new challenge. The East Coast expansion of the growing video gamer mega event Penny Arcade Expo is scheduled to take place in Boston March 26 to March 28, 2010. Anime Boston 2010 is scheduled to take place April 2nd through April 4th. I've long contended that an aspect of anime's downturn is that the minds and wallets of prospective anime fans are being channeled towards video games. Presumably a large part of the events audience will have to budget their time and funds for one or the other, and presumably economic malaise will push the equation into the zero sums realm. The question will be, what does Anime Boston do to continue to grow, or even to ensure that its audience is back for another year?

The Business

At Anime Boston 2006, Central Park Media announced that the company was going out of business. Underscoring the finality, reps at the event proceeded to give away the product on hand. In truth, details were a bit miscommunicated. CPM would linger in semi-business torpor until declaring bankruptcy in April 27, 2009. Still, hanging around an extra three years doesn't change the reality that what happened at Anime Boston 2006 was a clear sign that the receding anime boom was about to erode the business of anime in North America. The announcement of lists of licensed titles were a thing of the past. Talk of bidding wars and co-productions between North American anime publishers and Japanese studios similarly went away. Anime in North America was hurting before the economy took a dive. While the exact effects defy quantification, the ever increasing amount of unauthorized digital distribution of content can't have helped the business in recent years, but the downturn is definitely taking its bite as well. In terms of the economy’s impact, Publishers Weekly featured a key quote in their coverage of Anime Boston. From Shannon Outlaw of comic/manga retailer Comicopia "We're missing the 20 to 30-something age demographic this year," Outlaw said. Most of her customers at the convention were teenagers. Outlaw blamed the recession. She is certain that younger working adults who have a financial cushion have cut out expenses like anime conventions just in case they lose their jobs. "They don't want to lose that cushion," Outlaw said. Teen shoppers, she speculated, were likely spending their parents' money. This year, the industry literally did not have much to say. One of the panels that caps off a convention is the "State of the Industry," in which biz insiders are supposed to pontificate about what it all means. This year, no one showed up. Instead, of the scheduled panelists veteran translator Neil Nadelman and Toon Zone's Eric Stehmer served as impromptu stand-ins. I'm not exactly sure who was supposed to attend the event since it doesn't appear to be included in the Anime Boston programming guide's non-alphabetical listing of panels, but presumably FUNimation representative Adam Sheehan and convention guest/ADV veteran David Williams were intended speakers. Pioneer became Geneon, and then Geneon USA went out of business. Tokyopop stopped attending events like Anime Boston. Up until recently Bandai Entertainment used to at least show a few trailers and maintain a dealers room booth with releases on sale. There was no sign of Bandai this year. Media Blasters maintained a booth manned by company master mind John Sirabella, but apart from screening a few releases such as Ah My Buddha and The Twelve Kingdoms, Media Blasters did little promotion. Discotek, who have released a selection of noteworthy anime films, including Taro the Dragon Boy, Anime Treasure Island, Puss 'N Boots, Lupin the Third The Fuma Conspiracy and recently, the Fist of the North Star anime movie also had a booth, but Vertical (Black Jack, To Terra), didn't return this year. Neither did specialty publishers Drama Queen, LLC, Yaoi Press, LLC and Yuricon/ALC Publishing. A few companies did have an outreach presence:

ADV Films

Once ADV Films was nearly synonymous with anime in North America. They released the hallmark of the anime boom, Neon Genesis Evangelion. They piled on the licenses and filled the shelves for years. Then, they hit hard times. It looked like they were rebounding until their partnership with Sojitz that hit the skids. Their leading position passed to FUNimation, and for a while the company went quiet, except for re-packaged re-releases of their titles. Recently, with announcements that they've worked with titles licensed by Sentai Filmworks, picked up the lapsed license for the first CG Appleseed movie, and Central Park Media titles such as Grave of the Fireflies, Now and Then, Here and There and made some headway in their digital distribution efforts, it seemed like ADV might be the source of some good news again. But, if you were ready to welcome an ADV renaissance, Anime Boston doused some cold water on that enthusiasm. Knowing that a let down was a likely result of attending, I might have gone to ADV's panel if it was not scheduled against something that I felt was interesting, but it was, and I didn't. My gamble paid off. David Williams got up, stated that there was nothing to announce and turned the panel into a Q&A. I've had difficulties with the veracity of answers presented at ADV panels, and as such, I don't regret skipping this one. Last year's Anime Boston ADV presentation was particularly problematic. Dialog during the panel regarding the Sojitz business, the cancellation of the magazine PiQ and the fate of previously announced releases was unproductive. As was a personal conversation in which I tried to suss out the impact of changes on ADV's ongoing relationship with enthusiast press outlets. Instead, Williams presented plenty of bluster about "black ops" acquiring other licenses and companies, which in my opinion, just added to the perception of ADV being unreliable. I understand that if you're the public face of a corporation, your job is to manage what information is made public and how the public perceives that information. That said, when the public face of a company is speaking at an event without candor, what's the point? Is that sort of panel worth the time of the event's attendees? Is presenting that sort of panel even in good faith?

FUNimation

Though, unlike ADV's David Williams, FUNimation's Adam Sheehan was not listed as an Anime Boston Guest of Honor, FUNimation did have a highly visible presence at the event. Their booth in the dealers room was one of the largest and most attention drawing, decked out with banners for newly released titles such as Heroic Age. They screened the upcoming release of Romeo x Juliet, and offered a previews panel in addition to their industry one. FUNimation announced the English voice cast for their release of the Evangelion 1.0 movie Mike McFarland will be ADR director for the movie English language Cast MISATO Allison Keith-Shipp SHINJI Spike Spencer RITSUKO Colleen Clinkenbeard IBUKI Caitlin Glass GENDO John Swasey REI Brina Palencia HYUUGA Mike McFarland FUYUTSUKI Kent Williams KENSUKE Greg Ayres TOJI Justin Cook AOBA Phil Parsons KIEL Bill Jenkins HIKARI Leah Clark KAWORU Jerry Jewell YUI Stephanie Young EVA Mike McFarland ADDITIONAL VOICES: Scott Freeman, Maeghan Albach, Charles Baker, Trina Nishimura, Wendy Powell, Carli Mosier, Bill Flynn, Duncan Brannan, John Burgmeier, Brian Mathis, Joel McDonald, Eric Vale, Chuck Huber, Scott Hinze, Juli Erickson, Kate Oxley, Alexis Tipton, Andy Mullins, Bob Carter, Johnny Bruce Lewis, Chris Burnett, Clarine Harp, Cynthia Cranz, Dana Schultes, Jasper Dutt, Jeff Johnson, Jonathan Osborne, Kristi Bingham, Kyle Hebert, Laura Bailey, Lydia Mackay, Mark Stoddard, Monica Rial, R Bruce Elliott, Sonny Strait FUNimation Entertainment will release EVANGELION 1.0: YOU ARE (NOT) ALONE in Fall 2009. A DVD of the movie is due to be released late this summer. FUNimation also announced the license of Spice and Wolf Synopsis: Lawrence, a traveling merchant searching for profit, finds a naked girl with the ears and tail of a wolf asleep in his cart. Her name is Holo - a harvest goddess with an untamed beast lurking inside who longs to return to her beloved northern home. Armed with his street smarts and her animal instincts, a simple peddler and a forgotten deity begin a journey through the wild countryside. Along their path, the riches of happiness shall be reaped, even as the bankruptcy which dwells in the human heart is exposed. The anime version of Sgt. Frog (Keroro Gunso), the geek comedy starring frog-like alien invaders will premiere in North America with season 1 part 1 scheduled to be released on September 22. References to anime properties such as Gundam will be maintained in the localization. The Full Metal Alchemist OVA is due to be released in mid-summer Romeo x Juliet is due on June 23rd. I caught about a 20 minute span split between two episodes. It's rather different from the source material, with Juliet the last surviving member of the disposed Capulets, assuming the male identity of a boy named Odin, and a sort of Scarlet Pimpernel third identity under the name Red Whirlwind. The anime series also features pegusi flying through Neo Verona, as well as a flamboyant William Shakespear character directing a performance of the opera Otello. I didn't see enough to evaluate if the approach worked, but I can certainly say that Romeo x Juliet is audacious in its regard of the familiar material

Aniplex

Aniplex was a curious party to find playing a considerable role at Anime Boston in that the company does not directly bring anime to North America. Formerly known as Sony Pictures Entertainment Visual Works Inc. and Sony Music Entertainment Visual Works Inc., they're the anime production arm of Sony Music Entertainment Japan. These are the people who license anime to be distributed in North America. As far as Anime Boston was concerned, they were involved in staging the premiere of The Garden of Sinners (Kara no Kyoukai) - Paradox Paradigm, its music composer Yuki Kajiura, and Kalafina, the vocalists who performed the movie's theme song. They offered a panel that felt strained by cultural differences. The Aniplex representatives seemed to be looking for more crowd enthusiasm and the crowd seemed unclear on the company's role in the industry and as bewildered as they were interested in unsubtitled Japanese language preview videos. When titles were pitched, if the crowd didn't already know what they were looking at, they didn't become engaged. Anime showcases via trailer included Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood - the second anime series based on Hiromu Arakawa's story of two brother's who sacrificed their bodies to bring their mother back from the dead - this one more closely aligned with the original manga. A simulcast streaming by FUNimation was recently interrupted after a security breach with FUNimation's streaming of One Piece. Gurren Lagann: specifically the second compilation movie of the Gainax mecha series, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Gurren-hen, was showcased. The original anime series was released in North America by Bandai Entertainment, but not North American licensor has been announced for the two Gurren Lagann movies. Guin Saga: the anime adaptation of the AICN Anime recommended 126 volume novel series following the adventures of a leopard masked warrior. A trailer was not actually shown due to technical difficulties Black Butler: a demonic English butler. I'd heard of it, but didn't know much about the series. The trailer didn't inspire me to learn more. Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens: Huge in Japan magic girlfriend anime about a sculptor whose carving of a girl from a sacred tree comes to life as a goddess of purity Cenoroll: 30 minute project from Anime Innovation Tokyo that looks amazing Garden of Sinners - screened at Anime Bost reviewed here

Live Action Anime

Interpretive dance is not my medium. I'm not going to get within a ten foot radius of trying to evaluate it. However, it is worth mentioning that I skipped the ADV panel to catch a presentation of MIT Dance Theater Ensemble's "Live Action Anime 2009: Madness at Mokuba." I regretted missing the work by MIT professors Ian Condry and Thomas DeFrantz when it was presented in 2007, and was glad to see Anime Boston afford me a second chance to witness the it. Part homage to anime history, part commentary on the plight of undocumented workers in the US, and over-the-top tribute to anime creators and fans worldwide, this original theatrical production features giant robots, a Japanese schoolgirl, a lovelorn fanboy, a masterless samurai, a gamer woman, evil media magnates, and a vengeful deathgod who all battle for truth, justice, and the anime way. SYNOPSIS: The stage is set for the finals of the giant robot battle contest at the Mokuba Institute of Technology. But as the two teams prepare for battle, a strange disease called VIRTIGO is sweeping the school, causing unpredictable reality slippages. And it's getting worse. Does it have something to do the suspicious arrest of undocumented Japanese gamers at Infinite Channel Network? Can our heroes solve the mystery of VIRTIGO, help the workers, and find love? While dance is outside my familiarity, I'm inclined to think that an audience of dedicated anime fans is too close to the subject to appreciate Live Action Anime. The average North American fan is likely to learn something from its thumbnails anime's history, and is probably likely gleam some insight from its interpretation of the medium. However, for anime fans, Live Action Anime is likely to crowd the border between being iconic and being campy. Anime itself has an established tradition of presenting a template as a form of parody and then blurring the line between recognition and humor. Anime like Pani Poni Dash or Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi will throw in a Gundam mech with the serial number file off, and expect the audience to laugh at it. A screeching muscle man who looks like Fist of the North Star's Kenshiro has long been a running gag in anime. As such, an anime fan has been conditioned to laugh dismissibly at a character with a name like Sam Rye or Ota Ku. Unless they're willing to meet Live Action Anime half way and try to think about it, the average anime fan is likely to react to the work as a spectacle. As a novelty, featuring the Pokemon clip responsible for the seizure scare, a towering silver robot suit marching across the stage and theatrical version of Pong, Live Action Anime broke the scale.

Panels

I don't envy the person who had to put together Anime Boston's panel schedule. Even the panels that didn't turn out too well seemed like they probably sounded good on paper. To a large extent, an anime convention panel is only as good as its panelists. I hit a few panels in which the presenters evidently knew the domain being discussed, and probably wrote out a promising proposal, but turned out to be ineffective in carrying the panel. Some of the panels that I attended that were worth noting include

Please Save My Manga and Anime Genre Madness

Featuring Erin and Noah from Ninja Consultants, Melinda Beasi (for Please Save My Manga) and Chloe Ferguson Please Save My Manga! Underloved? Overrated? Or just plain out of print? Join a crack team of PopCultureShock.com reviewers as they discuss everything manga, from classics and favorites to overlooked gems and over-read failures. (Disclaimer: starry-eyed abandon, the occasional mean right hook may ensue.) Thanks to traffic and badge pick-up hassle, I regrettably missed most of Please Save My Manga (a nod to classic reincarnation manga Please Save My Earth?). I believe that some of the out of print and/or tragically abbreviated North American releases discussed among others were: Suppli by Mari Okazaki, partially released by Tokyopop, concerning a 28 year old woman's struggles with career and love What's Michael by Makoto Kobayashi, out of print from Dark Horse, part observational, part outright farce, a comedy concerning an American Shorthair tabby cat Club 9, again by Makoto Kobayashi and out of print from Dark Horse, a comedy concerning a country girl working in a Tokyo hostess bar to support herself through college Adolf by Osamu Tezuka, released by Viz and out of print. The story of Adolf Kaufmann a half German, half Japanese boy and Adolf Kamil, a Jewish boy living in a Japanese exile Jewish community, starting before World War II and progressing through the 20th century Manga Genre Madness Manga covers every genre imaginable - and unimaginable! Thanks to the importing of manga you can read veterinarian manga, salaryman manga, fishing manga, manga about economics, and manga about baking bread! Erin and Noah from the Ninja Consultant podcast and special guest Chloe from PopCultureShock.com present the absolutely most insane manga titles available in English - and a few titles which won't be translated anytime soon (wine connoisseur manga, for example). There's a perception that manga will cover any imaginable topic. After learning about the existence of multiple urology manga during the Anime Genre Madness panel, I'm inclined to think that the belief isn't a misconception. The panel also proved the point that even manga from the most mainstream anthologies can be incredibly strange. North America has been privy to Hikaru no Go, the manga concerning the game of black and white tiles from the artist of Death Note - a title that ran in the hugely popular Shonen Jump and launched a resurgence of interest in the game. What English audience haven't seen are fishing manga like the 65 volume Fishing-Crazy Sanpei (1973-1984), anthologies full of golf manga, manga about yo-yo competition, and even manga about curling. Similarly, we've seen foodie manga, with a topical best selection of the 102 volume Oishinbo, and cooking competition manga such as Chinese cuisine dedicated Iron Wok Jan and bread making Yakitate Japan, but again, that's the tip of the iceberg. The panel addressed the specificity of foodie manga, with titles dedicated to wine, to cheese, to train station bento (boxed lunch) to ramen shops. Beyond the diversity, these manga have the sway to start crazes over brands and locations. Just when you thought manga couldn't get any stranger, you stumble on a Legend of Koizumi, the political satire in which world leaders compete in mahjong or Saint Youngmen, about Buddha and Jesus living together in a low recent apartment,

Virtual Worlds Of Anime

This, along with a slew of other panels that I couldn't make, were presented by Alex Leavitt, who appears to be an up and coming voice in the field of anime academics and whose work can be seen at Department of Alchemy,. In addition to addressing familiar anime that work from the premise of a cyber-world that sits along side reality, such as Serial Experiments Lain and .Hack, the panel spoke to several noteworthy ones that aren't available in North America. Dennou Coil Dennou Coil was a 2007 show produced by Madhouse and created by noteworthy animator Mitsuo Iso (the opening scene of Gundam 0080,Asuka's battle in The End of Evangelion) I've watched the beginning of the series several times, and though I've never made it deep into the work, I've been intrigued by the look and concept of Dennou Coil. It's set in a community that feels a bit idealized old fashion. The troubling bits of modernity don't seem to be there. Parents seem to have stable jobs. Kids wander the streets with little worry of strangers or the like. Except, there's another reality layered on this one. With the aid of glasses, a virtual world of pets, servant creatures, technological recreations of traditional spell and even landscape exists. Ressentiment is a manga that I knew of through through Anime World Order's review. There's a spectrum of how amiable stories are to otaku. "Train Man"/Densha Otoko, about a geek who stumbles onto love is a supposedly fact based affirmational fairy tale. Genshiken is a generally realistic chronicle of a college club for anime/manga/video game fans that pats the ego of people who identify themselves as otaku. Welcome to the NHK refers to a mind-warped conspiracy in which Japan Broadcasting Corporation programmed the ruin of watchers with quality anime (like Nadia: Secret of Blue Water). It follows a social drop out whose brain is cooked by isolation and otaku ideology, but the black comedy also has a ray of sunshine in the young woman persistently trying to redeem this dire hero. Then, there's Ressentiment by Kengo Hanazawa. Looking to the future of 2015, it follows a fat, balding, slob who treats himself to an annual visit to a prostitute. Upon hitting his 30's, he's convinced to pick up a young virtual reality girlfriend instead. In this case, VR and the ideal girlfriend turn out to be less idealized than was imagined.

Edogawa Rampo

presented by CapyBaron "Edogawa Rampo, nom-de-plu of Taro Hirai, has been humorously called the Godfather of Japanese Mystery. Join a investigation of this pivotal figure and his influence on the detective/crime genre." A seminal figure in Japanese horror and mystery, Edogawa Rampo is probably best known to anime fans as half of the namesake of Detective Conan's hero Edogawa Conan, and known to horror/mondo film fans as the inspiration for the likes of infamously banned Horror of the Malformed Men. The presenter’s notes can be found online here - a must read outline of one of Anime Boston's most informed and informative panels. If you're a fan of the strange and distubrung vein of Japanese horror, the Takashi Miike films or the Eiji Otsuka manga, Edogawa Rampo is a fascinating antecedent worth knowing about, whose personal story ties into a fascinating transitional period in Japanese history. The panel was lamentably under attended considering the heft of its subject matter and the intelligent enthusiasm of the presenter, but if you couldn't avail yourself of it, I still recommend reading up on Rampo.

Know Your Creators and Anime You Should See

presented by Daryl Surat (of Anime World Order, Rym and Scott (of Geek Nights) Actually, I only caught snap shots of these panels... Anime is largely a pop medium, characterized by fade-away transitions. What’s hot today is forgotten tomorrow. Escaflowne hit the US in the late 90’s. The series by Macross’ Shoji Kawamori, featured a girl transported to a fantasy world in the midst of a robot mech war. As such, it was an early boom time example of how anime could appeal to both male and female viewers. However, what once seemed a candidate for the anime canon is now rarely spoken about and probably rarely heard of. The Anime You Should See presenters asked their audience how many had seen Evangelion, one of the defining anime of the last decade and a half, one of the anime that all anime fans are theoretically supposed to see. Only 50% had. In anime, today’s unforgettable classic might be tomorrow’s obscure find. However, just because anime is subject to out of sight, out of mind doesn’t mean that an anime fan will not benefit from knowing about creators like Rintaro - an animator who worked under Osamu Tezuka on Astro Boy and went on to direct spectacles such as Metropolis, X, Harmagedon and Doomed Megalopis, or Memories - an anthology film with Katsuhiro Otomo, early Satoshi Kon, Yoko Kanno, Koji Morimoto (Animatrix Beyond) and Tensai Okamura.

Panel to the West

presented by Mike Toole "Anime in the modern era has maintained a lengthy, complicated love affair with Wu Cheng-an's celebrated fable of monks and monkey kings, "Journey to the West." From the 60's to the present, we'll look at more than 10 Japanese productions that have included elements of this famous folk tale." One of the first color anime was Alakazam the Great, originally titled Saiyuki or "Journey to the West", a Toei film adaptation of an Osamu Tezuka manga that hit American theatres in 1961. You might call this the grand opening of anime’s love affair with the classic Chinese novels: Suikoden/Water Margin, Romance of the Three Kingdoms and finally Saiyaki/The Journey to the West. The story tracks Buddhist monk Xuánzàng’s piligramage to India, but most adaptations are drawn to Xuánzàng’s colorful companions, Zhu-Bajie - the iron rake armed shape changing pig, Sha Wujing - the spade armed sand ogre, and most of all Sun Wukong or Son Goku, the monkey king famous for his flying cloud transport and his extending staff - a character immortalized in a host of anime, manga and games including Dragon Ball. Amoung the stream of adaptations, what surprised me personally was that Spaceketeers, one of five shows in the Force Five syndication block from the early 80's, was a Journey to the West retelling. Originally titled Science Fiction Saiyuki Starzinger, the roots of the Leiji Matsumoto conceived space-mech adventure were pretty obvious once you knew what you were looking at. In particular, its trio of warriors standing on starcraft do look an awful lot like the above mentioned disciples of Xuánzàng. Jamie Hewlett's redirectionalization of Journey to the West for BBC's Beijing Olympics coverage

Nadeyanen!: The Finer points of Owarai Comedy

Geoffrey Tebbets "A metal tub falling on one's head. Anywhere else, and it's a lawsuit waiting to happen, but in Japan that's comedy gold, man. Whether it's the classic two-man manzai set-up, the storytelling of a rakugo performer, or the well documented misfortunes of Japanese game-show participants, comedy has been a staple of Japanese entertainment. This panel will try to explain just what the heck we're all laughing at!" Especially compared samurai, ninja and yakuza, Japanese comedy is a field that does not draw much anime fan attention. Yet, it is a useful subject with which to be familiar when endeavoring to understand anime. Manzai's pairing of a tsukkomi straight and a dopey boke is a particular pattern you'll see referenced in anime, along with the slap stick of getting wacked with a paper fan. Even the variety found on TV game shows has connections to anime, as can be seen in When They Cry - Higurashi's punishment games.

Mirth and Derision Panels

Anime Boston offered a panoply of panels dedicated to laughing at video content of dubious quality. including Bad Anime Bad!, in which Brian T. Price offered a torturous look at Toei’s 1980 Dracula: Sovereign of the Damned- the anime film based on Marvel’s Tomb of Dracula - featuring a famous scene of the vampire lord eating a hamburger Absolute Worst of Osamu Tezuka - presented by Mike Toole and Daryle Surat "Osamu Tezuka, the 'God of Manga' was a genius who blazed the trail of the entire anime and manga industry, creating favorites like Astro Boy and Kimba. He was always a workaholic and notorious micromanager, whose genius was flawed as often as it was not. You know his hits -- now, let's look at the rest of Osamu Tezuka's Legacy!" Totally Lame Anime Presented by Neil Nadelman A number of the usual suspects were out in force, including Toei's Frankenstein and Ambassador Magma. However, the star of the evening was Space Thunder Kids, a screed against communist North Korea that starts with a live action classroom lesson, includes Kim Il-sung, father of Kim Jong-il, entering into an alliance with interstellar alien aggressors, and eventually including torture and death by a giant robot finger through the jaw, not to mention rip-offs of everything from Transformers to Tron, Gundam to Mazinger.

An English localized version was available on American dollar video racks before complains saw it pulled. Japanese Animation Hell Daryl Surat, El Santo and Mike Toole "Burn baby burn! This classic of free-form convention multimedia art: makes its Anime Boston debut! Join your hosts for an evening of crummy old cartoons, bizarre short movies, educational films, music videos, commercials, and whatever else we manage to excavate from the diseased dustbin of video ephemera. it may not always be anime, but it's always hell!" Where gathering video oddities was once the realm of the ardent collector, most anyone with access to YouTube now possesses the material to set themselves up as a multimedia Tod Browning. However, there's still a lot to be said for veterans with long memories and deep libraries. When you get something masterfully MCed and VJed, it does make an attention wrenching difference. The gimmick of Anime Boston's Anime Hell was 3D, complete with red-blue glasses and 3D Gundam, but it was mostly the bloody dismemberment, purple ninja, and snarky commentary that sorched to a blistering experience.

Anime Boston 3D Hell 2009 from tohoscope on Vimeo.

Other Coverage

If you're interested in other Anime Boston coverage... Anime Hell Anime Cons Anime Dream Boston Globe on Live Action Anime more here) CollectionDX FUNimation Japanator (Kalafina interview) Otaku USA Publishers Weekly (photos) Part Two Toonzone (part two part three) cosplay video

For more commentary see the AICN Anime MySpace.

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  • June 9, 2009, 12:05 p.m. CST

    Surprised...

    by mbeemer

    ...to see that no one has posted here yet.

  • June 9, 2009, 12:08 p.m. CST

    Never have 'gotten' anime.

    by Hint_of_Smegma

    Never saw the appeal. Even the oft-hailed Akira left me scratching my head wondering why people enjoy it. Takes all sorts I guess.

  • June 9, 2009, 2:18 p.m. CST

    I remember when anime was hard to get and cool...

    by LoFi_Monk

    Now its everywhere and all the cheap imitations have ruined the good shit.

  • June 9, 2009, 3:44 p.m. CST

    Kalafina

    by Toonol

    I'm a fan.<p> I've actually never listened to a single one of their songs, and never heard of them before today, but they're sure cute, which is the most important trait for a musician.

  • June 9, 2009, 4:25 p.m. CST

    No Ponyo panel...

    by Wungolioth

    ...with a Miyazaki film coming out this year, you would have thought it was a no-brainer. Glad I didn't go out of my way, nothing else would have interested me.

  • June 9, 2009, 8:09 p.m. CST

    I have Space Thunder Kids.

    by Geomancer21

    Any connection to korean politics is completely lost on me. The film is undecipherable. Not only does it feature a massive amount of anime rip offs from Yamato, to masinger Z to voltron to DBZ to, yes, Tron. But it actually is a mishmash of several different anime ripoff films all cut together.

  • June 9, 2009, 9:31 p.m. CST

    Hey HoS!!!

    by DeckardBladeRunner

    Hey HoS- it's your good pal Mr. L from IMDB's flash gordon 2007 page, will Stilton McCheese be far behind!! I need to get you into Anime my good friend from across the pond! Did IMDB ban you? Have you been to www.bonethefish.com again? Anyway, PM me on there and Ill give you some anime to watch. <p> LoFi- you are correct, Anime was more fun when it was underground and hard to get, it is over saturated with crap and too mainstream it is losing traction from this I think.

  • June 9, 2009, 10:06 p.m. CST

    Escaflowne is Friggin' Amazing

    by grungies

    Rarely have seen entertainment so unbelievably epic, yet, so soulful. I feel like an idiot for wasting my time on Dragonball Z when I could have been watching this. It may have taken me long enough, but now everyone must know of this brilliant piece of work.

  • June 10, 2009, 5:51 a.m. CST

    "Her name is Holo"

    by triple-

    they mean horo, right? bloody hell

  • June 10, 2009, 6:33 a.m. CST

    Please no "Show My Breasts for Attention Girl" this weekend!

    by NeilF

  • June 10, 2009, 11:32 a.m. CST

    10 hour wait last year

    by Silventhal

    Yes it's true, I did it. Only took 2 hours this year, and overall I thought things were run a lot better.

  • June 10, 2009, 11:26 p.m. CST

    Still gotta grab Escaflowne on DVD...

    by Johnno

    I have em on VHS... It was the first anime series I bought! Got em with the soundtracks too and that was also my first foray into the wonderful works of Yoko Kanno!

  • June 11, 2009, 7:45 p.m. CST

    Yoko Kanno

    by Wingnut1A

    My fave of hers is the intro to "Record of Lodoss War" =P