Tokyo Anime Fair 2012 Blowout: Part Iby Ko Ransom, Mar 24th 2012
Tokyo International Anime Fair (TAF) is back once again, after a year off due to last year's Great East Japan Earthquake. However, as was going to be the case last year as well, the newly-formed competing Anime Contents Expo (ACE) event, to be held next week, seemed to have major effects on this year's Fair.
While plenty of well-known names were exhibiting at this year's TAF, there were also a fair number of omissions, and those seemed to bring along with them a noticeable drop in attendance. While attendance for the event's generally slow-paced business days only suffered a slight drop, the crowd for the generally-packed public days was significantly smaller, with the halls of the Tokyo Big Sight being much less densely packed and easier to navigate than the average North American anime con.
We'll run down the various booths, both big and small, that showed up to this year's event.
All images can be clicked for massive versions.
TMS was showing off a number of projects they are involved in, with spaces for the Cardfight!! Vanguard anime, the upcoming Fuse Gansaku: Satomi Hakkenden film, Panda! Go, Panda!, and their new Seiyuu Plus smartphone app (http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/interest/2012-03-09/smartphone-app-recreates-calls-with-voice-actors/actresses), the focus of their display for the year was on the hotly-awaited Lupin TV series, Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine. Two gigantic advertisements for the series towered over visitors to the booth, and inside was a timeline of the many iterations of Fujiko throughout history, as well as a small area that gave information about the show, complete with a TV looping a trailer for the series.
Keeping in line with the already-released visuals for the series, the trailer oozed with a retro style, from the Takeshi Koike character designs to the throwback spy-thriller editing, advertising copy ("An irresistible, sweet seductress. Her name? Danger."), and string-based soundtrack. Unfortunately, there was barely any completed production footage in the trailer, which is a little disappointing considering that the series begins less than two weeks after the start of the event, but it certainly seems like the team is on the right path.
Card game giant Bushiroad was back again to TAF, promoting their Cardfight!! Vanguard and Weiß Schwarz collectible card games, as well as their so-stupid-it's-lovable Milky Holmes franchise. A booth selling merchandise was at the front of the company's floor space, as were a pair of large Cardfight!! Vanguard models of the Dragonic Overlord and Blaster Blade characters. On the opposite side of their space from the models was an area devoted to both viewing and purchasing Milky Holmes merchandise. On public days, the booth hosted some brief appearances by various Cardfight!! Vanguard and Milky Holmes voice actresses, including Izumi Kitta and Sora Tokui.
The front half of the Tezuka Productions booth was pushing their June 7 anime film adaptation of Kenji Miyazawa's The Life of Guskou Budori. A trailer was on loop in front with a handful of production images and information inside. The tagline above the screen playing the trailer amusingly reads, "There's no Ghibli this summer, so Budori!" seeming to straddle the line between confrontation and self-deprecation.
Going around to the back side of the booth, Tezuka Productions had also set up a small area promoting their Black Jack Final Special Edition, the concluding episodes of the Osamu Dezaki-directed Black Jack OVA series. Similar to the other display, some information about the series as well as some production sketches were available for visitors to browse.
Despite nitro+ writer Gen Urobuchi's protest-cum-acceptance letter he wrote upon finding out that he bagged himself this year's Tokyo Anime Award for best screenplay, the company had a modest display at the event, with a handful of posters as well as a television showing off various titles they have been involved with, including Guilty Crown, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, and Fate/Zero. Particularly noticeable titles included their upcoming Guilty Crown Windows game, Guilty Crown: Lost Christmas, as well as their recently-released Madoka Magica Portable PSP game. On public days, a small booth where attendees could buy event-exclusive items including mugs, stickers, and keychains was also opened.
ufotable, the animation studio behind titles including Fate/Zero and the Garden of Sinners movie series, had one of the most homey booths at TAF 2012, with a small exhibit of production art from their Sakura no Ondo anime, which is airing in their Tokushima, Japan ufotable Cinema theater. Visitors to the carpeted booth had to take off their shoes and change into a provided pair of slippers before they could enter, but once inside, they could not only view the anime's line art, but could also sit on a shag carpet by a UFO-shaped table, apparently the original namesake of the company. A small bit of merchandise that is normally exclusive to the ufotable Cinema was also available for sale on public days, including Fate/Zero calendars, blankets, and flash cards.
The Korean co-producers of the Gon television anime Daewon Media were present, mostly to promote the upcoming adaptation of Masashi Tanaka's dinosaur manga. While the booth was a bit lonely on business days, with a few pieces of promotional material, much of it in English, surrounding a frequently empty pair of tables, they did bring out an adorable Gon mascot to entertain visitors during public days.
Did you know? The illogically cute Mameshiba mascot character is celebrating its "5th mameversary" this year, and advertising giant Dentsu was celebrating alongside it with plenty of merchandise at TAF. Part of the area featured a booth for the Mameshiba and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu collaboration, "MameshiPamyuPamyu," in which the "Beandogs" are dressed up in colors inspired by the pop singer and have also inexplicably sprouted legs. Dentsu introduced another brand new similarly bizarre-yet-cute character line at the show, "Hako-iri Neko" (loosely translated as "Matryoshcats"), a line of various cats who live inside other, larger cats.
Dentsu also had a small corner introducing various anime titles the company is involved in the production of, such as Gon, Fairy Tail, Natsu-iro Kiseki, and Ōkami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki. The booth also had a replica space suit for commemorative photos in order to promote the upcoming Space Brothers TV anime adaptation.
Companies foregoing TAF for ACE this year didn't just make their mark on the event by their lack of presence and ensuing drop in attendees, as the effects of the boycott manifested themselves in a curious way at the Studio Pierrot booth. With the vast majority of high-profile Pierrot-animated anime series such as Naruto and Bleach being adaptations of titles originally owned by the publishing companies that are leading the boycott, the studio appeared to have no choice but to turn to a line of intellectual property that they owned themselves, and that franchise was none other than Creamy Mami. Of course, if you're a fan of Creamy Mami or some of Pierrot's other magical girl series, such as Magical Emi or Fancy Lala, you would undoubtedly love the booth, as it featured everything from Creamy Mami drawings and handbags to Creamy Mami costumes, berets, and luggage, not to mention live talk shows with some of the key voice cast from the series. However, for those expecting to see a wider variety of titles on display, this was a strange reminder of the ongoing conflict between the two events.
Sho-Pro was placed in a similarly odd position, as both companies listed in their full name, Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions Co. Ltd., are again part of the group of publishers who split off from TAF in order to create ACE. As such, Sho-Pro's presence at TAF was exclusively for business, with their booth consisting of a blue cube with, presumably, tables and desks inside. By public day, they had left the show floor, with a space for "anime workshops" and bread stands taking its place.
And of course, what's an anime event without a food court? A large corner of the convention hall was taken up by around a dozen stands selling Japanese festival staples from around the country such as yakisoba, ramen, okonomiyaki, ice cream, and beef guts. Actually, this was apparently TAF's first time running a food court of this scale, leading some to speculate that this was, at least in part, a bid to fill up floor space. A few TVs playing promotional videos for various anime series were also scattered around the eating area, just in case attendees were in danger of forgetting where they were.
Here are some additional images from the show floor; click here for Part II!
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