Anime Weekend Atlanta 9 - What Was Once Old is New Again
Ah, Anime Weekend Atlanta has come and gone once again and yours truly was right there scouring the dealers room for swag, watching a slew of music videos...and typing on my laptop? Yes, for this intrepid reporter, this AWA was a brain-bashing race against the clock to meet a deadline of an entirely different variety. Still, I wasn't a complete computer drone, but I did have to spend two late nights in my hotel room (a suite no less!) staring down at the scrunched keys of my laptop.
Having arrived at the con mid-Friday afternoon, my first challenge was to navigate my way through the strange new surroundings the convention was placed in. This year's con had plenty of room to make use of between the Renaissance Waverly Hotel and Cobb Galleria Center. The first thing I noticed was how big this place was. There was literally a small high-class shopping mall on the first floor of the Galleria Center and a concourse-like waiting area upstairs with dozens of rooms. Interestingly enough, as I walked on the second floor trying to find registration, there was a sports show going on with people dunking baskets and doing cheers and all kinds of other sporty stuff.
At the very far end of the second floor where the Center meets the hotel, was a mob of people going to and fro dressed in everything from T-shirts and jeans to sailor fuku and Saiyaman costumes. I knew I must have been in the right place and then I looked up and noticed the dealer's room. However, I didn't have my badge yet, so a trip to pre-registration was in order.
The Industry Panels
After all the registration hoopla, I decided to check in on the Bandai panel, which was just getting underway on the floor below. No really big announcements were made, but the atmosphere of the room was light and fun. The only time the audience really got up in arms over something, was when dubbing groups where brought up and how Love Hina's dub was handled. For reference, Kitsune's overly fake southern accent was a bone of contention. Hey, this is the South, after all, and we know there are differing degrees of 'hick.'
Things quieted down as Jerry Chu started giving out prizes for answering questions. I'm kind of slow on the whole lightning reflex quiz stuff, so I generally sit those parts of panels out and just sit and listen to the proceedings.
By the time the hour was up, the mood in the room almost felt like we were a family. That was further helped when Jerry gave Robert Woodhead of AnimEigo a free copy of their recent Spirit of Wonder DVD (FYI: AnimEigo put out the original Spirit of Wonder OVA).
From the AnimEigo side of things, there was some insight into why the fourth Urusei Yatsura box set had a different color scheme. It seems Robert's wife, who now pretty much runs AnimEigo, hated the pink and yellow boxes and flexed her corporate powers and switched it to blue and yellow. The obvious Macross 7 and Macross: Do You Remember Love? topics came up and had a rather interesting reply this time. Macross 7's soundtrack has some seriously copyrighted music in it that would make it near impossible for the original language track to remain as it is if it ever managed to be brought over. As for Do You Remember Love? soundttrack, well, that one is just a rights nightmare. Everybody claims to have the rights, nobody knows who has the rights, and nobody wants anyone else to get any money from the project.
The ADV panel on Saturday seemed to offer only one solution for this plight; the only way for the rights to be settled would be for someone to die. Yes, you heard that right. If a show has a rights issue, the easiest way to solve the problem is to wait for whoever holds the rights to kick the bucket. And yes, the wheels in the heads of many otaku that day began to spin in contemplation.
But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. Friday was a bit of a bust for me. The dealer's room was closed by the time I finished up with AnimEigo's panel, and since I had some major writing to accomplish I just set-up shop next to a power outlet on the outskirts of the Artists' Alley and watched all the hot chicks in costume stop and pose for photo shoots.
Saturday was much more eventful, overall. The first thing I did was meet up with fellow Animefringer Ridwan Khan and his friends briefly and then made my way to the panel for the fandom documentary, Otaku Unite! Ridwan had to cut out early on, but I sat out the panel, or rather the video presentation hosted by creator Eric Bresler. I must say that overall, I found the documentary to be highly entertaining which some incredibly funny parts where you can help but to laugh and think, 'God, what a loser!'
Since Anime Weekend Atlanta was the premier, there was a short AMV prelude and then Eric pointed out a few things before popping in the tape. The documentary starts out with a short spotlight on Kaiju Big Battel, a form of ameteur wrestling that involves the use of people dressed in rubber suits. For more info on that just visit: www.kaiju.com.
The documentary itself has quite a few interviews with some of the big names in fandom such as Carl Macek (of Robotech fame), Steve Bennett (the head of I.C. Entertainment) and Frederik L. Schodt (author of Manga Manga! and Dreamland Japan), just to name a few. The first portion deals mainly with the early fan movements and series on U.S. television and the later gets into the actual convention aspect of things. One major highlight of the documentary for me was the segments spotlighting Jonathan Cook, the Tennessee radio disc jockey known as "D.J. Jonny Otaku." The way this documentary is set up is that the interviews come and go, so first we have Jonathan doing some voice work and getting depressed over how he doesn't have the voice he'd prefer. Then, later he reappears during a cosplay competition dressed as Inu-Yasha doing a peck dance! Oh, but that isn't the funniest part, it's when he gets bent out of shape over losing and calls the contest rigged! Ah, priceless.
Anyway, expect some form of DVD of this documentary to hit sometime next year after it has toured a few more cons. This is definitely one movie to watch.
The Dealer's Room
I don't think I've ever seen so much Naruto merchandise in my life! There were also a lot of Ein plushes (the dog from Cowboy Bebop). It seemed like almost every booth had some. The true highlight here, however, was the dealer who kept screaming to the ladies about where they could get their yaoi fix.
I'm not going to go into detail, but aside from the Kimagure Orange Road DVD Box Set I bought, I ended up spending a lot of dough in the course of two days.
Okay, call me sick, but I actually asked the guy selling the hentai doujinshi if he had anything with the characters from Pitaten in it. I got a little spill about how the character's a tad young and you can see where this is going. I did pick up some Love Hina doujinshi though...mmm, Motoko.
What convention would be complete without a showcase of the biggest and best anime music videos from the past year? In a massive three-hour block that ran considerably over, the AWA staff showcased the winners of this year's Pro and Masters AMV contests. Considering there were over 300 entries, it must've been a real nightmare for the staff to stomach that endless barrage of videos. Yet, somehow they did and what they showed were the cream of the crop.
In the Pro contest, videos were broken into categories based on their genre. Like 'best various' for instance, which went to the great Captain Tylor and various video "We Want You!" set to the Village People's "In the Navy." Personal favorites during this block include, "I Wish I Was A Lesbian" by AbsoluteDestiny, the Mini-Goddess video "Harder Better Faster Smaller," the FLCL power-trip "The Case of Nandaba Naota," and the hilariously off the wall, hand drawn Dragon Ball Z spoof, "Blow, Blow Buttlord: The Assholder Calypso."
And that's barely even scratching the surface. I keep finding other videos I missed whenever I browse the AWA9 sections on AnimeMusicVideos.Org.
My passion for AMVs actually lead me to spend my Sunday watching more of them and even sitting through the highly informative AMV 101 panel and fun Aluminum Heartbeat panel. And then I realized I had a 3-hour trip back ahead of me. I made one last walk around the dealer's room and with great hesitation, made my leave of the convention.
So, how did this year stack up compared to last years? I'd say overall, it was just as good. A bit more spread out than last time, but the new convention center offers the con a lot of room for growth. Here's hoping I see you there next year!