No One Gets Out of Here Alive: Tokyo Anime Fair 2009
by Sean - March 28 2009

One of the perks, I suppose, of living in Japan is that you’re able to attend lots of nerd events that people overseas really wish they could. Yet I’ve come to realize the depressing truth: these events are usually incredibly boring and/or frustratingly tiresome. This is the truth that you won’t find on your favorite otaku website catering to the Japanophile crowd; you won’t see this straight talk. No, all you’ll see is a lot of pictures (probably taken by a man with a huge lens on his camera) and great, comprehensive coverage describing how early they had to wake up, how long the line was to get in, some random crap about something WACKY JAPANESE and then lots and lots of pictures of toys/models/cosplayers/whatever.

If you’re looking for that kind of trite bullshit here on Colony Drop, you’re not going to find it. Go somewhere else.

...

I’d like to dedicate this post to the batshit crazy middle-aged couple who rushed onto the Yurikamome Line mere seconds before the door closed. The older man had a backpack slung over his chest, which I first thought was an odd way to be wearing a backpack before realizing it was a backpack-shaped dog carrier. Yes, this couple had decided to bring their ugly little rat dog along with them for the day, and saw fit to carry him in a little backpack with a mesh top that he could look out of.

Being the dog expert I am, I quickly deduced that the caged rat dog wouldn’t enjoy the train trip much, because he was on a crowded train shoved into a fucking backpack. Naturally, my hunch turned out to be right, as for the entire duration of the 15 minute train ride the rat dog proceeded to whine and whimper in a high-pitched rat dog voice. The proximity of this vile little animal to my head meant that no matter how loud I turned up the music I was listening to, I couldn’t not hear his desperate screams.

People often talk about the downfall of civil society and the loss of social respect, and I would wager that you’d be hard pressed to find more damning evidence for the destruction of society hypothesis than this borderline terrorist act undertaken by this apparently psychopathic couple. What kind of sick human thinks putting a dog into a small bag is OK and then decides to make things even worse for not just the dog, but for complete strangers, by taking that jailed rat dog onto a crowded monorail?

The answer is, of course, that no remotely sane person would feel such an act was acceptable. On one hand, perhaps we as society at large should breathe a sigh of relief, as this couple was no doubt on the edge of becoming full-blooded serial killers but by whatever grace of God decided to scale back their insanity and simply carry around a dog in a backpack making a 15 minute train ride feel like a 15 THOUSAND minute train ride for Colony Drop’s Tokyo correspondent, a.k.a. the best looking man in anime blogging, a.k.a. me.

And, I guess, all those other people on the train.

But I’m not as inclined to feel bad for those other people, as they proceeded to ignore the entire incident as if it wasn’t even happening and I alone had to stand there, staring like an angry old man at these maniacs who were much older than me and, being over the age of five, should have known better than to bring their dog onto a fucking train.

As your atypical white dude in Japan, I’ve never had much of a fascination with the feudal era of Japanese history. I was not obsessed with ninjas or samurai growing up. I will say this though, that for that brief train ride I wholeheartedly wished that some of those bushido ideals still remained in the hearts and souls of Japanese society, for I would have struck down that couple with such ferocity and anger you would have thought it was a Quentin Tarantino movie.

I implore all potential dog owners to pay close attention to the following statement: If your dog can fit into a backpack, it is not a dog, it is a rat. An easy rule of thumb is that if you’re interested in owning any dog that will weigh under 50lbs fully grown, you are an idiot and have no place owning a pet, let alone an eight-pound genetic freak.

Please, just get a cat or something.

I sure as fuck didn’t wake up early for Tokyo Anime Fair. I managed to drag myself out of bed a little after noon, only arriving slightly later than expected at Tokyo Big Sight to meet up with a friend. We bought our tickets and proceeded into the event hall, the loud noises immediately feeling like a million screaming babies thrashing at my brain with flails. I believe I mentioned earlier I was hungover — well, I was. This hangover, compounded with the aggravation of the aforementioned incident on the train, the bright lights, the loud noises and the screaming children I was immediately greeted with upon entering the Tokyo Anime Fair exhibition made me quietly promise to never drink alcohol ever again. I managed to uphold that promise to myself for approximately eight hours.

Tokyo Anime Fair is a bunch of booths arranged around an exhibit hall as you would expect from any other trade show. However, this year’s show provided excellent proof as to the sorry state of the Japanese animation industry. Outside of a huge Gurren Lagann booth, the majority of big-money booths were advertising children’s anime. I mean, like, cartoons for 10 year olds, opposed to the cartoons for 15 year olds that foreigners like so much.

Speaking of foreigners, Lord, there were a lot of them. If you’ve ever felt like meeting a bunch of ugly, unattractive, gangly looking buffoons and are unable to attend a local anime convention in the United States, I’m sure Tokyo Anime Fair would be a suitable replacement. The depressing truth is that not only did these slack-jawed guailo clearly descend onto Tokyo for pure anime intentions, no doubt many of them came just to attend Tokyo Anime Fair.

Much like Tokyo Game Show, I was temporarily reminded as to how absolutely fat you are, America. While fatness is not exactly a crime in and of itself, I often cringe to think of how impossible it must be for these huge people manage to make it around Japan without experiencing any sort of discomfort. Everything in this country is small, sometimes hilariously so, and seeing these veritable land whales descend upon Japan (a country that rather un-ironically actually eats whales), I can only imagine their two-week experiences here are a bit like a kid thrashing around in his sister’s doll house, but with way more Pocky.

It might be worthwhile to note that the Anime News Network, otherwise known as that terrible news site with a great online encyclopedia, sent at least two people over to Japan to cover this event where exactly nothing interesting happened. It’s hard to decide what’s more staggeringly stupid: the fact that they sent people at all, or that they sent Zac “Apparently He Hates Being Called Answerman” Answerman, a.k.a. the dude who got tired of getting paid to look up answers on Wikipedia, who had apparently never been to Japan before to cover this event. Here’s his hard-hitting blog on the matter — be sure to tune in for lots of blurry photos of CRAZY JAPANESE STUFF. He’s got a picture of a t-shirt with some terrible English on it, and don’t miss out on the picture of the toilet in his hotel room!

There’s also this fantastic quote:

We actually have a booth this year, but we didn’t get top billing. We may be big in America, but in Japan, we’re still co-stars.

Please tell me in what sort of bizarro world is Anime News Network actually “big” in America. Their pathetic brand of pseudo-journalism that consists of people translating then rewriting Japanese news sites and corporate press releases and writing some of the most god-awful reviews to grace the pornography conveyance device otherwise known as This Here Internet is only relevant in the ever-shrinking bubble known as “anime fandom,” and most anime fans don’t even want news, they just want to know where to download anime for free.

Apparently, they’ve made so much writing reviews about how Astro Boy doesn’t hold up in modern context that they can afford to spend money on such worthless expenditures. They weren’t the only ones though, as Otakon (yes, the American convention) had a booth that was staffed by something like a dozen people. Not only did absolutely no one in Tokyo care about their convention, as far as I could tell they spent their time playing catch and goofing off. I’m sure it was little more than a trip to justify visiting Japan, but if I went to Japan and had to spend four days locked up in the convention hall of the Tokyo Anime Fair, I would be sucking on a pistol immediately after touching down back in the United States.

I suppose at some point you might actually want me to write about the things I saw that interested me, opposed to the things that made me angry.

Well.

OK.

There was a trailer for an anime called Redline that looked a bit like Death Race done in the style of Viewtiful Joe. The trailer was mostly just cars crashing into each other so it sure could suck, but it at least didn’t repulse me at first sight. It’s being done by Madhouse, who had the most hilariously pathetic booth of the entire event:

Production IG also has a new title coming out called Eden of the East. Apparently it’s a near-future series that starts with some terrorist act shocking the nation of Japan (that’s a plot hook that’s getting tiresome, by the way) and the trailer seemed to be about a guy who runs around naked. The animation looked nice, and despite being directed by Kenji Kamiyama, a.k.a. the guy who also directed the talking head snooze fest known as Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, it might actually be worth checking out, if only for the soundtrack by Kenji Kawai.

By now you’ve probably all seen the trailer for Cat Shit One, which was not only the best looking thing that premiered at Tokyo Anime Fair, but if the actual series is 1/4th as awesome as that trailer, it will be the anime of the motherfuckin’ decade. If you haven’t seen it by now, I highly recommend you go watch it right now.

Based on a long-running comic by Motofumi Kobayashi (released, barely, by ADV’s manga imprint as Apocalypse Meow), it seems uncertain exactly how it’s going to be released. If it gets shown on Japanese TV, hopefully there won’t be a repeat of the Hetalia Axis Powers incident, where whiny Koreans on the internet whined about the portrayal of the whiny Korean character in the original comic (who wasn’t even in the TV series!) and it was yanked from TV before broadcasting. This might be an issue with Cat Shit One simply because Koreans in the series are portrayed as dogs, for the same reason I could see the series getting in hot water in the United States (if it’s ever released there) as the Middle Easterners are apparently portrayed as camels. Japan, your cultural sensitivity never ceases to amaze me.

The animation looks to be high quality stuff, as it’s being done by Studio Anima, who have done CG video for video game companies like Square-Enix and Konami. That combined with its bizarrely excessive violence, fuzzy animals and vague racism (Botasky hates militant asiatics -ed) means it will likely be the best thing ever. It will also, of course, not be very popular. But that’s just how these things go.

At this point, I’m finishing this post over half a week after I went to Tokyo Anime Fair. My recollection of the event is getting fuzzy and you’ve probably read all of the news about it on other websites days ago, so I’m not sure what else there is to say.

Just know that that Tokyo Anime Fair kind of sucked, or at least it sucked enough that it certainly wouldn’t be worth coming from very far for it. Or going to with a hang over. But go watch the trailer for Cat Shit One. It’s great.

6 comments

Comment from: Ben Reed [Visitor]

I really wish more congoing “anime journalists” had the balls to post something like this; perhaps it’s just me being awesomely jaded/cynical, but I get rather bored by all the doe-eyed fawning over these events by first-timers, marvelling at some kind of imaginary anime wonderland. I would really much rather hear about the more underwhelming/seedy sides of these events, because it makes it easier to vicariously experience one of these events without feeling like a fantasizing dork OR – more importantly – dropping a couple thousand dollars to fly over there, brave the claustrophobic subway, and struggle through a foreign land and culture just to marvel at a downscaled trade show for foreign cartoons.

Then again, I hate all these fuckers because they never have the common decency to go to Japan’s nature preserves, spots of natural beauty, etc. and bring back pictures. I’ve always wanted to see what Japan looks like in the ass end of nowhere, being an armchair nature buff and all. That stuff fascinates me a lot more than seeing bored trade-show staffers marvel at overexuberant gaijin snapping photos like they were shooting gooks in First Blood Part 2. Seems very disingenous to go all the way overseas just for that.

Also, I see you wasted no time in working 3-year-old Amuro’s ass into the header graphics. Good show, indeed.

03/29/09 @ 11:53

Comment from: Dane Scaysbrook [Visitor] · http://www.anipac.blogsome.com

I too was aghast that these “journalists” had never even left the damn country before. I too, live in Asia and I think that’s a required ingredient to realise how pitiful the “LOLZ LOOK AT MY CRAZY TOILET” type of articles really are.

04/01/09 @ 22:07

Comment from: Devin Crawford [Visitor]

I saw a monstrously overweight Zac B. waddling around TAF wearing a terrible ill fitting suit that looked like he’d just crapped inside of. I’d almost feel sorry for him if he didn’t deserve at least a smidgen of the contempt he delights in vomiting onto others. The rest of the ANN crew looked like they were on a quest for the breakfast buffet at the Anaheim Hiltion circa 1998. Colony Drop takes home the cup for the win.

04/02/09 @ 13:28

Comment from: Dane Scaysbrook [Visitor] · http://www.anipac.blogsome.com

I’d almost feel sorry for him if he didn’t deserve at least a smidgen of the contempt he delights in vomiting onto others.

You took the words right out of my mouth.

04/03/09 @ 01:08

Comment from: jonathan [Visitor] · http://chinesepeepo.blogspot.com/

oh yeah u shud come 2 comic con bro don’t forget

04/13/09 @ 12:54

Comment from: Magus12000BC [Visitor]

Why in the flying fucking hell did Otakon think setting up a panel there would be a good idea. I didn’t even need to read what happened. The picture alone said it all. As a long time attendee there, I kind of lost a bit of respect for the organization in a sense.

08/27/09 @ 02:03

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