Tokyo Anime Fair 2012 Blowout: Part IIIby Ko Ransom, Mar 26th 2012
Toei Animation's booth was fairly neatly split into a front side and a back side. The front side of the booth was devoted to their long-running Pretty Cure series, with a stage set up for live shows on public days that fans of all shapes and sizes came to watch. Going around to the back of the booth, there were various smaller sections for Toei anime such as Kyousogiga, Niji-Iro Hotaru ~Eien no Natsu Yasumi~, and their new Exiled from Paradise film, which was announced via an unassuming poster at the booth. This area had a medium-sized room that exhibited production and promotional materials for the upcoming Niji-Iro Hotaru, which opens in Japan this May.
Tatsunoko Production teamed up with Takara Tomy for their booth this year, and each company had their own clear idea of what they wanted to push. Takara Tomy's booth space was almost entirely taken up by promotion for their release of the American Transformers: Prime TV series, with a human-sized Optimus Prime acting as the centerpiece of their area. Meanwhile, Tatsunoko was busy celebrating its 50th anniversary, showing off series from years past while also announcing plans for the future. The two projects that seemed to be the most hyped there were the new Devander anime that was announced right before the event, as well as the announcement that the company would be going through its back catalog and releasing classic series on Blu-ray disc.
From the outside, all visitors could see of the majority of the booth for the tokusatsu action TV series and wildly popular pachinko game Garo was a gigantic black box with not much other than the name of the series written on the outside. Inside, though, was an impressive museum of costumes, props, and other materials used in the production of the series. While Japanese tokusatsu shows may come off as cheesy to some, seeing the craftsmanship that goes into these productions up close and personal is definitely an interesting experience. Also inside was a TV showing some behind-the-scenes material explaining how some of the special effects in the show were pulled off.
Companies, organizations and embassies from countries around the world, ranging from Canada, France, and China to Tunisia, Hungary, and Bulgaria were present on the TAF floor, showing off what they, and in other cases their countrymen, were up to in the field of animation. China easily had the largest presence of all, with its own "China Animations" section of the floor. While the area did not attract a particularly significant amount of foot traffic, its sheer size was a reminder of just how big the world of Chinese animation is. America's own Otakon was also present at TAF, promoting the Baltimore convention from their own booth near the center of the floor. While overall attendance for this year's TAF was down by 25 percent, the number of overseas attendees during the business days increased by 25%, suggesting that the event is continuing to attract international attention as an industry trade show.
Production I.G had a very small booth that was only present at TAF during business days. With posters and English fliers for recent and upcoming titles such as Yamato 2199, A Letter to Momo, Blood-C, and Appleseed XIII, the booth appeared to be there primarily in order to interest foreign licensees and to at least have some sort of presence at the event.
Bones also had a rather small presence at TAF, though they were on the floor for all four days. The booth consisted of a few advertisements for their new EUREKA SEVEN AO, a few framed posters, and a TV playing a looped promotional reel facing the floor.
A handful of schools aimed at people who want to one day work in the animation industry exhibited at this year's TAF. These schools offered courses in everything from 2D and 3D animation to voice acting. Of these schools, the one with the most eye-catching display was easily the booth shared by the Tokyo University of Technology and the Nippon Engineering College. Not only did the booth feature a huge collection of student projects, but it also had a stage where graduates of their voice acting course performed, as well as a Toyota Prius advertising the college that was covered in drawings of girls.
The Creator's World section of TAF gives a handful of promising young creators space on the show floor to exhibit their work to a large audience of fans and various companies. Creators using a large variety of mediums, from traditional animation to flash and 3D animation to puppet and cutout animation showed off their best work in the area. As TAF is an industry event as much as it is a fan-oriented event, some parts of the event may have felt a little on the stuffy and corporate side to fans, making Creator's World, with its independent-minded artists, a pleasant contrast of energy and creativity.
The Association of Japanese Animations
The AJA, a Japanese animation industry group, had a large space on the floor with various corners, including a space for workshops to teach children about animation, a wall showing domestic and international trends in animation, and a large section devoted to their charity auction. The display cases showing off the goods being auctioned were especially interesting, as visitors could see rare goods such as From Up On Poppy Hill figures and sketches signed by Goro Miyazaki, an electric guitar branded with the lead girl from the Guitar Girl iPhone app, signed posters and scripts from various shows, and more.
The Tokyo Anime Awards / Ceremonies
A portion of the TAF floor was dedicated to honoring those who received the Award of Merit in this year's Tokyo Anime Award, a sort of lifetime achievement award for those in the anime industry. Creators involved in a variety of aspects of anime production were honored, with awards going to Ippei Kuri (producer), Haruya Yamazaki (screenwriter), Osamu Dezaki (director), Akio Sugino (character designer and animation director), Mitsuki Nakamura (background art director), Jiro Yoshimura (director of photography), Mitsuru Kashiwabara (sound effects creator), Michiaki Watanabe (composer), and Masako Nozawa (voice actress). Each recipient had a section of the floor devoted to a biography about them and their careers, as well as a small glass case showcasing some of their work.
The award ceremony itself was a fairly dry affair, mostly consisting of introducing an individual or title that had won an award followed by a presentation of the award. The commercial animation categories were mostly dominated by From Up On Poppy Hill, Madoka Magica, and Tiger & Bunny, while various smaller-scale productions using a range of mediums were honored in the "open entries" category. However, the Award of Merit was also awarded at the ceremony, and attendees were given a rare chance to hear some often-underappreciated artists and artisans who were vital to the industry speak about their lives in anime.
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