Anime Programming in the US
Making a Living in Manga in Japan with Felipe Smith
Lost in Translation
Animania's first visit to Brisbane back in 2005 was seen as quite a success. However instead of going from strength to strength, Animania has slowly been on a backwards decline. Continually facing the same issues of controlling the morning crowd as well as keeping a decent sized audience by the afternoon. Although they may have not cured these issues once again with their latest visit they have finally shown that they are on the right track, and it may be sooner rather than later that these problems are a thing of the past.
Arriving to the event an hour early, I was greeted with a small line of around 30 attendees. However, with the train station literally being somewhat next door it was not long before clusters of attendees arrived with each train that pulled up. The line quickly hit the 100 mark, and was very much on its way to breaking 200 before the line began to move. I checked the time and was surprised to find that it had only been twenty minutes since I arrived. Pondering what they were planning this time for the morning crowd control, I got into the next elevator and headed up to the show floor. After receiving our bags, we were all ushered out to the balcony and told to stay out there. It was not long before we were joined by the next group of attendees who came up the lifts and slowly but surely the balcony began to fill. Animania's plan of filling the balcony with people before the event began was certainly a step in the right direction. However it became painfully obvious that either it should have been started a little later on or a limit have been imposed on how many people could be up there as it eventually became way too packed to move around in. Thankfully the opening time was only just around the corner.
Traditionally the Booth Area has been the first place everyone would go to and this was certainly no exception. The room quickly became packed as attendees unnervingly swamped the eight booths in an attempt to grab everything they could before they disappeared. Squeezing my way out of there I decided to check out Giant Twister, one of the new events to make its way into the schedule. Sadly my expectations of novelty sized twister was dashed as it turned out to be simply three mats taped together. A quick check of the screening theaters found the small few who dared not to enter the death trapped Booth Area. Knowing that the famed Olympia always drew a packed crowd, I decided to snag a good seat by heading into the main hall early and watching the Samurai Show. This performance, held by the Black Dragonfly Clan, was very much the same as their previous show earlier this year at Animania, with only some new videos being the notable inclusion. As the performance came to an end the crowds began to make their way in, filling the hall up to the brim.
Olympia has always been a crowd pleaser and this time was of no exception. Starting out with a rather dubious decision to toss mentos into the crowd as a way to excite them, two teams of two people each were picked out of the crowd to be the challengers for the events. First up was Ninja Duplicate, a kind of charades event where the groups were tasked with mimicking an image on the screen. Secondly was J-Rockers, a lackluster event where the teams were made to invisibly rock out to a Japanese song. Third up was Robo Wars, a simple battle event where radio controlled robots were tasked with destroying each other in a best of three fight. The final game was Godzirrrrrra Time, a simple event where the groups were tasked with drawing Godzilla, and then using a radio controlled car to burst a number of balloons. In traditional Olympia style, the teams tied and were decided by a crowd decision, followed by a game of paper, scissors, rock to decide the final winner.
Another new addition to the Animania event lineup was some panels. The first was Anime 101, a basic explanation on all things anime related. Designed for those new to anime or wanting to learn what their sons and daughters were on about, it supposedly covered the basics and terms often synonymous with anime. I sadly only managed to catch the end of it, briefly seeing slides for anime recommendations and suggestions before it ended. The second panel was Merging Worlds, a discussion of such about the influences of anime on western culture. I was asked to be one of the guests for this panel, along with Courtney from the Toowoomba Anime Society and Adam from the Black Dragonfly Clan. It was a nice and intriguing discussion, covering the influences we have begun to see not only in film but in music and education as well. Both these panels received a moderate crowd, however it really needed microphones as the outside crowds were quite noisy at times.
With the panels over I did my best to squeeze through and catch the remainder of the Cosplay Competition. The main hall was unsurprisingly packed for it once again, however I sadly arrived way too late into the event, catching only the final two group cosplayers before it ended. The crowd was certainly into it though as the final two groups put on a very nice display each. With only a screening scheduled to be held in the main hall next, I decided to check out the Karaoke briefly before making another sweep of the Booth Area.
Year after year, the Cosplay Competition is seen as the last crowd drawer for Animania. With the rest of the afternoon dedicated to screenings, karaoke, and the awards ceremony, it has been a common sight to see the convention become empty in the afternoon compared with the crowds in the morning. So I was very surprised to find the Booth Area still containing a large group of attendees. Only one stall had been added to the area from last time, so this unexpected crowd was certainly a mystery, not only to me, but to the staff as well. Knowing there was nothing left on the cards to see I spent the last few hours of the convention striking up a few talks with the staff over the mystery crowd that was amazingly still hovering around until the days end.
To many, Animania today will be seen as one of the best conventions they've ever been to. There was barely a person I saw who didn't leave without some sort of smile on their faces. In addition to this, the new events and an almost perfect answer to their morning crowd issue has me believing that Animania is finally on the right track to making next years visit their most successful yet.