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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
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10/12/2008 Archived Entry: "New York Anime Festival Part 1"

New York Anime Festival 2008
By Jilly Gee and Linda Yau
Photographs by Jilly Gee and Linda Yau

From the same organizers of the Comic Con, New York Anime Festival (NYAF) occurred September 26-28, 2008 as an industry convention to showcase the best in Japanese Anime culture that is brought over here by companies such as Del Rey Manga, TokyoPop, Funimation, Media Blasters, and the list can go on. JLHLS was able to be present at the NYAF as festivities occurred in typical convention fashion of three days.

Linda’s POV

Since Jilly and I were locals, we did not have to pack up to travel as I noticed some other press members or guests did. (I spoke and were near press and cosplayers that were from Europe or Asia, they were there to report on various things to show support for Rie Tanaka). The venue was held at the Jacob K. Javits Center, and I can say that this is six avenues from the nearest public train station. Annually I would make only several journeys to this location, it is not for every event that would make me willing to pass an avenue where traffic from New Jersey’s Lincoln Tunnel exits.

What is interesting about this convention was the fact that this was an industry related convention, so there was a more business feel for this convention, rather than a fan feel like Otakon inspired. There was more of an emphasis or expectation for panels, I attended to discuss business related topics, such as was it hard to get a job in the company, what were the upcoming releases from that company, or which works were considered the best selling. Another example to how effective Jacob Javis was, once it was 6pm, Jacob Javis employees did not let con goers dwindle at the Dealer’s Room. Everyone with the exception of dealers was not allowed pass the entrance.

NYAF began at 1pm on Friday, and picking up the badges was a breeze, with no wait time on my end whatsoever. In my experience, for the entire weekend other than autograph lines, Rie Tanaka’s panel, masquerade lines, or the line to wait for the convention to begin, there were basically no seriously long lines.

I met up with Jilly, and we went to our first panel: Anime and Manga Journalism. The purpose of this panel was to introduce the concept of how to blog, and eventually get paid. This panel was run by four representatives from a variety of successful anime publications (online and print). They started out the panel by summing up that the market for anime journalists to actually get paid is small and competition is fierce. Anime publication looks for originality, professionalism, and teamwork.

The next panel we attended was the Funimation Industry Panel. Funimation is a media company that is similar to Viz Media, that JLHLS has reviewed several movies before. In this panel, they gave audience an update and taste on what titles they were going to release. There was a great deal of excitement from the audience, such as a rousing cheer for when the Afro Samurai Movie was announced or when the limited metal tin box edition of Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage was announced as well. As a live action move, Mushishi was also announced. There was also a comment on the state of anime, what with the piracy or licensing--"DON'T PANIC!" Funimation did also introduce new ways they are introducing anime to the public such as cell phone anime.

Jilly's POV

Hideyuki Kikuchi panel

Featured at the Hideyuki Kikuchi panel was ,of course, Hideyuki Kikuchi , best known for his Vampire Hunter D novels (published in English by DMP and Dark Horse Comics), and Kevin Leahy, translator not only for Mr. Kikuchi, but also for the popular Vampire Hunter D novels.

Interestingly, the pair did not meet through publishers or something similar, but rather as individuals, fan to creator.  Being a fan of the novels himself, Leahy attended several events that featured Kikuchi in Japan.  As a foreigner, he stood out to Kikuchi when he looked out into the audience, who at first thought that Leahy had wandered in drunk (Leahy quipped that this was pretty close to the truth) and didn't belong there.  Eventually, however, Kikuchi noticed that Leahy attended quite a few of the events and curiosity led him to ask Leahy what the deal was.  Kikuchi and Leahy discussed the book and a half that Leahy had already translated into English and they spent years looking for a publisher after that.  When asked what it was like working together, Kikuchi responded with, "He's a good guy."  Leahy himself elaborated a bit, talking about how they do not have that much interaction with each other, although sometimes he asks Kikuchi for clarifications, such as how a character's name should be spelled.  Kikuchi jokingly remarked afterwords that that was a long response to "He's a good guy."

Asked if there were any of Kikuchi's works in particular that he would like to translate, Leahy answered that he would of course like to continue with the Vampire Hunter D series until the end.  He is so busy translating, however, that he does not have time to read Kikuchi's many other books.  "Because of my schedule translating, I don't have time to read his other 300 some odd books as I would like.  At this rate, I won't live long enough to read the rest of his books, let alone translate them, but I would like to do a lot more of his books."

Though not a Vampire Hunter D panel (that would come the next day), since it is his most popular series, the subject was of course brought up.  The left hand is the only one that knows all of D's secrets, though the information will be divulged to readers little by little.  After all, he jokes that the publishers won't let him end the series, and he will likely be writing it until he dies.  One of his wishes for anime is to see the story of the first novel remade and also the seventh and eighth novels (a two-part story in the series), since those are his favoites.  There is a French producer who holds the rights to a Vampire Hunter D movie, though this producer did not seem too knowledgeable about the series and did not seem to be doing too much work on it.  What Kikuchi thinks comes out best in his Vampire Hunter D series above all others is the human drama.

The Vampire Hunter D manga adaptation (published in English by DMP) was also talked about, in which Kikuchi discussed how he thinks Ms. Takaki's done a great job on it.  "It would be good if she were to put in a lot more action-packed sequences, but she's actually staying very close to the source material."  Kikuchi was also asked about the process of adapting the novel to a manga, although the author laughingly pointed out that it was a question more suited to the manga creator than himself.  Still, he was able to offer a bit of insight into the process.  In order to make the story fit into certain page counts, Ms. Takaki has to massage the material, making some scenes longer and some shorter.

Mr. Amano, the illustrator for the Vampire Hunter D novels, was not a panelist at the Hideyuki Kikuchi panel, though he did make a surreptitious visit.  A question was asked of Mr. Kukuchi about what he thought of Amano's art, to which Kikuchi answered that once in a while D looks a bit funky and he would ask Amano if he could do it again, at which point Mr. Leahy pointed out that they were putting the author on the spot, what with the illustrator right there (at the back of the room).  Mr. Kikuchi laughingly requested that there be no more questions concerning Amano.

On the subject of Kikuchi and his writing in general, the author related how he started out writing for magazines, but one by one they all shut down, leaving him with no place to live.  He turned to writing science fiction, which as all fans know today, was a much bigger success.  Kikuchi's Alien series, which had treasure hunting and lots of gadgets, was his most popular series until the Vampire Hunter D anime was released, at which point Vampire Hunter D overtook the Alien series it in popularity, showing him the power of anime.  For one year, he attended lessons on how to become a writer, although he laughingly notes that he was the last one of that group to actually get work.  He has thought about writing in other fields, but his bread and butter right now are the royalties from his books, so he of course has to keep that going.  The most he has ever written in one day was 94 pages.

And of course, it would be near impossible to walk away from an author panel without learning said author's favorite author, who in this case, is Ray Bradbury.

Linda's POV

Kitty Media Panel

The first night panel was a presentation from Kitty Media on yaoi and yuri graphic novels. I saw Media Blaster’s managing editor: Frank Pannone again. I have met him previously at Otakon this year – so it was a delight to see him again. Even more to realize the projects is Kitty Media going to be releasing. Titles like Fujoshi Rumi 3, A Kiss in the Dark, and Dojin Work is in the English publishing future for the yaoi fangirls. As for the yuri titles, Maka Maka is going to be published. Gia, who I was surprise, but delighted to meet took more comprehensive notes for this panel.

The following panel was a Yaoi Roundtable, where Frank, presided with Abby, and representative from Publisher’s Weekly. (I humbly apologize, for not writing down the name of you, in spite of afterwords inquiring again for your name). I took these notes from the panel itself. These were questions asked of the panelists.

Question: Why does yaoi appeal to you?

Because of stigma from hentai in the 1970’s, it gave a bed rep for yaoi, which is more romantic and enjoyable to work with.

There is a dynamic appeal and equal basis of the gender that levels the playing field for the couple.

In the United States, Only the Ring Finger Knows paved the way for other yaoi publication up to date now. The Song of Wind and Trees (Kaze to Ki no Uta) is considered to be the first yaoi in the 1970’s, but will not be licensed because the characters in the story are only fourteen years old.

Question:Has the Yaoi market changed?

It has expanded greatly, and there is a saying that the BL publication has hit the ceiling, but that is saying is contradicted because BL fans keep buying more, and then some. There is consistently a need to reprint.

Question: Why are there so few Yaoi titles released?

There is a challenge in marketing BL titles, because the market is now saturated with manga like Naruto. Now publishers are forced in doing more cherry picking, to choose the best potential. A new challenge is doing more leg work to expand more of the market with alternative sources.

I couldn't get more of the questioning, but this is the rest of the notes I took from the Roundtable.

There is an androgynous look in the 1970's, but now the trend is for the men to become more masculine looking. However people want to see more pretty things, so there is not as much of a drive for a more manly style, that is prevalent in publication like the interview with the subject of Manly here.

These are some minuscule portions of snapshots I took on the first day:

Kingdom Hearts: The Fan's Point of View Panel

The World Ends With You Cosplayers

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