Anime Weekend Atlanta 7
By Adam "OMEGA" Arnold
This year's convention season is almost at an end, but some of the last cons are still alive and kicking and Animefringe reporter Adam Arnold was taking in the sights and sounds at Anime Weekend Atlanta 7 on September 21 through 23. Well, actually, this reporter could not make it to Atlanta in time to attend on Friday night, so he got up in the wee hours of the morning and made the three hour drive to Atlanta just in time to wait in line for the pre-registration office to open. Things went smoothly, but not a lot of stuff was open at 9:00 AM so I walked around and familiarized myself with the layout before taking in some anime music videos.
Now, in the past I have to say I haven't had much interest in the fan creations, but I saw some truly awe-inspiring pieces that have thoroughly changed my mind. In fact, if there was any one room that I frequented during the weekend, it wasn't the dealers room - but instead the music video screening room.
My personal favorites at the show included Neon Genesis Evangelion set to Weird Al's "The Alternative Polka" and the Cowboy Bebop video entitled "Failed Experiments in Video Editing", which won best in show, but there were so many others that I liked. Heck, I enjoyed watching these music videos so much that I even skipped the costume contest that night to see the Iron Chef Editing challenge, but more on that later.
Anyone who knows me knows that if I don't make out lists for what I plan to buy, then I end up spending way too much money when I'm at a convention. So I'm happy to report that I didn't even spend over $150 all weekend and I even left the con on Saturday evening after the important stuff to go shopping and eat a few exits down. I have to say this was an impressive Dealer's Room set-up that didn't have a single bootlegger or pirated CD dealer. There were a few comic shops that brought their manga back issues, companies like Media Blasters and AnimEigo had tables filled with their videos. There were even a ton of model kit and action figure dealers and so much more. Oh, strange fact: the hottest DVD in the place had to be Blood: The Last Vampire because it sold out at all the booths by mid-Saturday.
Anyway, I picked up the Japanese import DDR 4th Mix soundtrack (2 cd set), I finished my Manga Vizion collection when I found the rare issue Vol.2 #11, I bought a VERY cool Hand Maid May action figure that is the actual 1/1 scale of the character, and I bought the last issues of Hyperdolls that I needed (Vol.5 #6 through Vol.6 #5). Outside of the convention, I bought the Shin Kimagure Orange Road: Summer's Beginning movie on DVD, which is one of my favorite movies, and a Sailor Moon 2002 Calendar and a Superman action figure. So I did fairly well in the money department.
Adam doesn't have anything better to do than take pictures of merchandise.
Video Game Room
Ok, sure - if you want to waste time you could sit down and watch any anime that was showing in one of the four movie rooms, but what better way to interact with people than to play video games with them? To chill, you could wait in some pretty confusing lines to play games like Super Smash Bros. or one of the many Capcom games, or just wait your turn to break your neck on some crappy DDR mats playing Dance Dance Revolution 4th Mix against some true masters.
I chose to just watch, but I did learn one thing: no matter how smooth your moves are, even if you're a master of DDR... if you're playing on a cheap and slippery mat, some of your steps just won't register, no matter how well executed they are.
Important DDR safety tip: Wear a belt.
Ok, aside from playing video games, the best way to have some fun at a convention is talking with other fans. One of the best places to do this is outside of rooms where panels are going to be because you are guaranteed to meet some of the great guys and gals who report all the news on sites like Anime News Network and Anime On DVD. But the really fun people to talk to are the truly obsessed fans who keep reminding companies of all the series that they said they would put out but haven't yet. Now those are the ones that you can just stand around and talk about how companies handle their releases with, because those people really know their stuff.
The ADV panel had to of been the most energetic of all the panels I attended. Where else can you have Matt Greenfield and David L. Williams getting lip from their voice actors and fans, and then turn around and give away over 20 new and unreleased DVDs in a trivia contest? Nowhere that I can think of, but there were definitely some interesting tidbits coming out of this baby.
Let's see we have Klonoa in the middle and uh... some help here.
- ADV is nine years old this year and they are working hard to finish up a number of series.
- They are in final negotiations for the Sub versions of the first two seasons of Sailor Moon.
- The TV series Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda will be coming out on VHS and DVD.
- ADV is co-producing the new Rurouni Kenshin OVA series. The only details that were revealed were that the story is in the OVA style, it is a direct continuation of the OVA, it is more serious than the TV series, and that there is a framing sequence that is set later in the story.
- ADV has an association with Right Stuf to release over 100 anime CDs next year. Boogiepop Phantom is just one title mentioned, but lots of old out-of-print titles will receive CD releases.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion disc 0:1 has been remastered and there is also a special DVD box that will be available. The disc will include a clean version of the opening and ending as an extra on the disc. People who already own all the DVDs will have the option to get both the remastered disc and the box. The set will be have two versions, a premium special edition box set and a standard box set. No further details were available.
- The big announcement of the convention that brought about a number of press people screaming out in joy was that The Miyuki-Chan in Wonderland OVA will be released on DVD at the low low price of $9.95. The disc will also most likely include the paper doll extras that were included in the Japanese release.
- No word on a DVD release of Devil Hunter Yohko, though a test was done, but nothing is final.
- ADV is ready to start production on Excel Saga. Casting is ready to start, so expect it around spring or summer of next year.
- No word on Golden Boy DVDs, though there may be a new series.
- Gamera 2 will receive a limited sub-only theatrical release and Gamera 3 will be released both dubbed and subbed in a limited number of theaters.
- Pre-production has started on Burn-Up Excess.
- There is no decision on wether the Dirty Pair movies will be redubbed.
- Spriggan will be released in a limited number of theaters on October 12.
- The Sakura Diaries Uncut 2-Disc DVD will be out in stores soon.
- The ADV web site is being redesigned and will have distinct sections for Live Action, Anime, CDs, etc.
- There is no "coalition" of anime companies. ADV just has a number of close ties to companies like Right Stuf and Urban Vision to cut down on rivalries in the industry and to help with licencing.
- There will not be a lot of VHS releases next year for a lot of series, such as Princess Nine.
- All of the ADV Fansubs releases will be on DVD.
- ADV couldn't comment on Sailor Moon Stars.
- The voice actors made a bit of a fuss about the Gekigangar III OVA, although ADV's response seemed like they didn't want to acknowledge it's existence.
- A.D. Police will be released as a 2-Disc DVD before the end of the year.
- ADV has a Lady Death animated movie in production at the moment in Japan. Due to the complexity of the designs of the comic, they had to redesign the characters a bit to make them easier to animate yet retain the distinct Lady Death look.
- When I asked if ADV was going to have any other series on TV they responded that one of the three main networks just licenced a series for TV. They also encouraged fans to write into the networks and tell them what they think of the series and maybe they will get more series aired. Expect more TV series next year.
- When asked about Blue Seed 2, ADV had no comment.
- When this staffer asked if the Zone of the Enders OVA series would be out before the Game Boy Advance game is released here, they replied they are hoping to get it out before the GBA game.
- The DVD of Plastic Little may have a Jiggle Counter special feature which counts the number of times cleavage shakes in the series, which is about once per minute of the show.
- Excel Saga has some incredible extras planned for it.
- There will be no Soft Cell backlog coming out on DVD at this time because some things are going on and ADV can't comment on them at this time.
- ADV is expecting Princess Nine and Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda to do really well in the coming year.
- Overall, ADV is a full six months ahead of schedule in terms of releases.
Media Blasters Panel
The ADV panel ran over about ten minutes but John Sirabella didn't seem to mind... he pretty much rambled off the series that Media Blasters would be hyping next year in a minute or so and then called for questions and when he didn't get any said that's it. Seriously. Well, actually there was more to it than that...
When will Adam learn to stop hounding people for pictures?
Media Blasters has been around for about 5 years in New York City and they have about 40 to 50 releases in a year which include dub and sub VHS and DVD releases. They have four main labels; Anime Works which is their general anime label, Kitty which is for adult anime, Tokyo Shock which deals with Live Action Japanese movies, and Skreak Show which is their new label for European Horror films.
- The Tokyo Shock label will have one title per month released.
- Magic User's Club did better than was expected. The reason they stopped doing the clear case after the first volume was due to the fact that the clear case costs triple the price normal cases. The TV series will be released on four DVDs.
- Berserk's cover art will be different and should look really cool. The show is 25 episodes long and will be released on five DVDs with five episodes per DVD. There will also be a Dub VHS, but there is no word on a Sub VHS.
- Weiss Kreuz/White Cross was announced in the Anime Expo flyers and it is meant to be one of their major series along with Berserk next year. They said that the licensor of Rayearth sent over the stuff before the deal was even signed so the show pretty much fell in their lap. There will be a Sub VHS of Weiss Kreuz because the female audience buys more subs than the male audience. Media Blasters is also trying to locate all the rights to the interviews so that they can be released.
- Media Blasters likes to do a lot of different series but at the same time do a balance of shonen and shoujo. Yet, what it comes down to is what they like and what they can put out.
- One major series announcement is waiting for the Big Apple Anime Feast.
- Rurouni Kenshin will conclude next year, but it is so huge that they said they would release anything involving Kenshin because it is guaranteed to sell.
- The Kite: Director's Cut will be out in January or February 2002.
- Media Blasters is taking off the month of December to catch up on their releases and back catalogue.
- More Kitty DVDs will come out next year.
- Mezzo Forte, which is done by the person who did Kite, will be released as a edited version through the Anime Works label and a more adult version will be released under the Kitty label.
- Media Blasters talked briefly about the differences in co-producing and pre-buying. Co-producing involves paying a portion of the money to help get a series completed where as pre-buying means that a series can be dubbed and released around the world sooner. Media Blasters said that the Japanese are trying to do more of the rights distribution themselves and are actually seeking out companies more than they used to because anime sells so well now.
- If you didn't know, there is not a continuation to Ninja Cadets.
- A lot of series that people would not try on VHS have done really well on DVD, such as Earthian.
Macross DVD Screening
The screening of the first two episodes on AnimEigo's remastered Macross DVD was fairly interesting to watch. They played a non-final version of the DVD with pretty much everything but the episode titles in place on the main menu. Having just finished watching the Macross Saga of Robotech mere days before the convention I was curious as to how different the story would be in the early episodes. Plus, I was interested as to what the opening and ending were like.
A life size Cyberdoll May... not for sale.
The show looks and sounds truly awesome, but other than a couple of different jokes, such as the captains drinking, and more character building the episodes are pretty much identical to that of first episode of Robotech. It's pretty much a judgment call on your part whether you want to get the remastered Macross DVDs or stick with the extra-laden Robotech version.
Iron Chef Editing Challenge
After leaving the con to spend some downtime shopping, I returned to the con just in time to learn that the both the Costume Contest and Iron Chef Editing Challenge were about to start. So, I chose to watch the Iron Chef competition instead. You see this competition, gives two contestants a chance to go head to head for two hours crafting an anime music video from scratch using an mp3 song of their choice, clips from an digital version of the entire Urusei Yatsura: Beautiful Dreamer movie and secret ingredient anime which they have to include at least a still from. This contests secret ingredient was the anime Tokyo Babylon, which if you have ever seen it... well I'm not alone in saying this because pretty much the entire audience was in agreement that Tokyo Babylon really blows.
So, what do you do for two hours waiting for the contestants to get their videos done? Why, be entertained by the likes of ADV's DVD guy David Williams and voice actor Jessica Calvello, dressed as Shiokaze from Virgin Fleet (yes, the word virgin was used in several contexts during the whole event). Believe me, seeing them waste time by telling bad jokes and filling dead air was a trip to see, but what really made the competition worth sitting through was seeing some of the footage from David's personal DVD. It just goes to show that if you have the equipment to make your own DVDs, that your gonna use it to do your own stuff.
Anyway, David showed a rather unique little film he shot called "Harmony Gold Ale" which features a few ADV staffers sitting around watching Robotech, getting wasted on a particularly nasty tasting special blend of alcohol known as Harmony Gold Ale.
The next portion shown was particularly entertaining and flat out hilarious to see which were 15 minutes of Dirty Pair OVA bloopers recorded during the dubbing of the series. These bloopers weren't just your average flubbed lines either - we're talking everything from missing like four lines of dialogue and filling up the lip flaps with lesbian ad libs to trying to sing the ending theme song and failing miserably. Definitely the highlight of the contest.
Maybe this black mage needs to lay off the Pocky for a while.
David also played his own special Evangelion music video entitled something like "The Ultimate Evangelion Music Video" if memory serves. This 'unique' video features nothing but Asuka and Rei in an elevator. At the end, Asuka, voiced by Tiffany Grant, screams at Rei to get out.
There was one last thing that was shown, and it was a rather unique trailer for an anime movie that was going to be produced but was canceled. You see, there was going to be an Ultima 2: The Animation produced in Japan, done anime style and funded by ADV. The project got as far as a teaser trailer, but sadly, the anime fell through when the computer game it was tied into was canned.
Anyway, the competition soon moved to screening some of the big music videos that won in the masters competition and then went to giving out some awards before the two hours were finally up. The thing is, there were some technical difficulties and the music videos weren't shown until an hour after the contest ended. Both videos were a little rough around the edges and the winning video was missing a few clips early on, but the thing that matters is that Hsien Lee's video looked the coolest in the end. Heck, there was even the beginnings of some well done lipflap matching going on and strangest of all at the end of the competition Hsien was totally wasted from a bottle of vodka and Sprite that his friends brought him during the middle of the contest. Worth the wait though.
So, after the competition I went to the hotel my friend was staying at so I could crash for the night. Props go out to Kat Bell, Naomi and Osha Baxter for letting me crash in their room and not kicking me out. Maybe it's a good thing Brian and Greg forgot to get me when they got back to the hotel at 5 AM because I probably wouldn't have been able to go back to sleep. Anyway, Sunday was a fairly slow day and I walked around a lot checking out a lot of things before finally sitting down to watch some anime.
The Angelic Layer manga by CLAMP is one of my all time favorite series, so I was psyched to finally get to see some of the anime series. Episodes 2 and 3 were screened, but even without the first episode I could tell I knew what happened before and right away I was drawn into this anime much more so than I have ever been before with any other CLAMP anime, including Card Captor Sakura which I watched a few episodes of later on.
Hikaru get's ready to kick some serious Angel butt.
Sure there are some new characters added to the anime, but this show is pure fun to watch. Just getting to finally see one of Hikaru's Angelic Fights was a real treat because it is one thing to see it in the manga but it is another to see it animated. This sure isn't just another Pokemon or Yu-gi-oh cop-off because this series has got all the great CLAMP taste that will want keep you on the edge of your seat for me. Great stuff. Be sure to check it out if you haven't already.
Studio Ironcat Panel
With Helen McCarthy and Jonathan Clements in the lobby signing copies of their new book The Anime Encyclopedia (which, by the way, is getting mixed reactions because it isn't the end-all book that it was hyped as), it was time to head to the last of the industry panels. This time it was Studio Ironcat's turn to shine, and what better way than to have Steve Bennett at the end of a panel discussion along with his new staff and some close friends who introduced him to the wonders of Japanese anime.
- Ironcat announced that they are looking for other comics, both manga inspired and non-manga inspired, to publish in the future.
- Ironcat will continue to publish on average four titles per month.
- The Vampire Dahlia will complete its run in December.
- Also in December, Vampire Princess Miyu returns in eight new volumes, which are the continuation of the six volumes that Antarctic Press released. In this series Miyu takes names and doesn't take any prisoners. These volumes will be released only as graphic novels and will be presented in English in their original unflipped, right to left format. Steve Bennett went on to say that due to page flipping in the past all the Kimono designs in the each of the previous Miyu issues have had to be redrawn because only in death are Kimonos worn on the right.
- Futaba-kun Change will be finished in a few months and Hiroshi Aro's You and Me will be the next manga series to be released.
- There will be more Hyperdolls Graphic Novels.
- Spectral Force has been delayed until November so that a package including the anime and video game can be released in association with ADV.
- The three Groundworks of Evangelion art books are being translated and will be released shortly. There maybe a possibility for Miyu art books in the future. Unofficially, Steve said that he would like to put out Nadia books because that is his favorite anime series.
- If you would like to see Hana Yori Dango in English, Ironcat suggested that fans continue to send in e-mails requesting the title so they can show them to the Japanese licensors to prove to them there is an audience for the book. This as goes for any other manga that you would like to be released. You are encouraged to write in via e-mail with requests. They will pass on all the letters receive to their Japanese licensors to show them there is a market for more obscure series.
- As Steve was trying to contain himself from giving away any secrets, he did ask the question, "wouldn't it be cool if Ironcat put out Samurai Comics?"
- The CosPlay Calendar has been delayed, but it is coming out. There will be more graphics this time and it will have a different layout, better printing, and feature both ladies and guys. If you want to have a chance to be included in the calendar the deadline for submissions is the end of October. You can submit photos no smaller than 5x7 and artwork. More info can be found at the Ironcat website.
- Four years after the fact, Studio Ironcat finally has permission to do the Neon Genesis Evangelion video games, such as the previously announced Girlfriend of Steel, but they don't have the facilities at this time to do video games.
- Ironcat will not be entering the soundtrack of video industry, though audio drama adaptions are not out of the question if they can get enough fan support.
With the final industry panel of AWA over with, I headed to the Dealer's Room for one final walk around as everything was slowly closing up. Things were slowly winding down and I knew I had a rather long drive ahead of me, so I put some DDR tunes in my CD player and made the long trek back home.