Anime Contents Expo Day 1 & 2by Ko Ransom, Mar 31st 2012
After its unfortunate cancellation in 2011 following the Great East Japan Earthquake, the first-ever Anime Contents Expo (ACE) began on Saturday in Makuhari Messe at Chiba, Japan. Despite some train lines to Makuhari being shut down by high wind, fans packed the Messe's halls to take part in the event that seemed equal parts American anime convention dealer's room, concert, and trade show. Though pre-event estimates put attendance over the two days at approximately 50,000, a fair bit lower than Tokyo International Anime Fair (TAF)'s 74,173 public day attendees, the smaller floor space and larger booths created a much livelier, packed experience. Compared to last week's family-and-business-oriented Tokyo Anime Fair, the event seemed much more targeted toward hardcore fans, with booths across the floor primarily promoting late-night otaku-targeted anime, often times holding events featuring the voice casts of various shows. An entire third of the floor was dedicated to a special stage for events, most of which featured voice actresses talking and singing, causing loud and energetic cheers to be heard nearly nonstop throughout the entire hall. Anime News Network was there gathering photos and coverage of the major booths, so read on to learn more!
Aniplex had one of the largest, if not the largest booth on the floor. Their main space featured small compartments that displayed everything from promotional videos and information about shows to production materials and replica props for dozens of series that the Sony subsidiary is involved in the production of. Current hit series such as Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Hidamari Sketch, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, and Fate/Zero were well-represented, as were many upcoming titles, including Moyashimon Returns, Space Brothers, tsuritama, and even Robotics;Notes, which was only announced yesterday.
As most booths at ACE were, Aniplex was selling limited-edition merchandise for many of these shows as well, such as Guilty Crown artbooks, Idolm@ster live concert "preparation sets" featuring a shirt, a towel, and bottled water, Inu X Boku Secret Service poster and toilet paper sets, and more. In addition to the various Aniplex-related events on the main ACE stage, the company also brought along its own stage, where they held smaller talk events and radio shows.
The anime and anime merchandise giant Animate drew one of the largest lines in ACE with their booth dedicated to doing what they do best, selling anime merchandise. Limited-edition merchandise for sale encompassed everything from smaller goods for upcoming programs such as AKB0048 stickers and straps or Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate chocolates, all the way up to high-end goods for older series such as 9,800 yen (about US$120) hug pillows for The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya celebrating 25 years of the Monthly Newtype anime magazine.
Bandai Visual's booth featured a large wrap-around screen that advertised various properties such as Gundam and Code Geass on its top half. On its lower half, displays of various goods and advertisements for Bandai Visual anime were spread around, most notably life-sized figures of Lelouche and C.C. from Code Geass. In between the first and second days of ACE, the company took over the nearby Makuhari Kadokawa Cineplex in order to hold special late-night screenings of titles new and old such as Patlabor: The Movie, Jin-Roh, Summer Wars, and more.
Warner Home Video had a significant presence on the show floor, promoting both anime and live-action titles. A significant part of the booth was taken up by the upcoming Accel World anime, but live-action Hollywood films such as The Dark Knight Rises were also quite noticeable, especially on a show floor primarily dominated by anime and manga titles.
TV Tokyo and Dentsu, both of which also had large booths at TAF, teamed up at ACE to exhibit together in one large booth. The front of the booth featured a giant screen playing various promotional videos, while the back side of the booth had posters displaying information about current and upcoming titles such as Naruto SD: Rock Lee no Seishun Full-Power Ninden and Medaka Box.
The Chichibu Anime Tourism Executive Committee
Animation production, distribution, and merchandising companies weren't the only groups with exhibits on the show floor, as a tourism committee from Chichibu city, Saitama Japan took out a space on the floor entirely dedicated to faithfully recreating the secret base that plays a vital role in anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day. Maps of the city that showed where visitors could go in order to see the areas reproduced in the anime were also distributed at the event.
A centrally-located booth for the upcoming Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita was another one of the few displays dedicated entirely to one program or franchise, in this case the Romeo Tanaka light novel series-turned-anime that is slated to begin airing this summer. The exhibit advertised itself as having something for "all five senses," and had an impressive display in the front, complete with character cut-outs, promotional videos, and three-dimensional greenery, as well as light novel and manga samples in the back. To round out the rest of the senses, a advertisements for a "Secret Factory Chicken Sandwich" sold in the food court were posted around the floor, claiming that it was "straight from the factory" and depicting it as a sandwich big enough to be straight out of Blondie.
One of the more unique spaces on the floor was the "Special Exhibit" that featured rare and one-of-a-kind items from popular anime series. Visitors could view everything from a full-sized Madoka from Puella Magi Madoka Magica, a full-sized version of Saber's YAMAHA V-MAX "Motored Cuirassier" from Fate/Zero, and the portable Lucky Star shrine actually used in festivals to a giant Persona 4 Teddie or a 1/3-scale Code Geass Gawain. Some slightly odder items were also available for viewers to take commemorative photographs of, such as a three-foot-tall Maken-Ki! breasts mouse pad.
Update: ACE's location corrected.
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