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New York Anime Festival 2008
Interview - Peter Tatara

by Zac Bertschy,

A few days before New York Anime Festival, we sat down with the show's director of programming, Peter Tatara, and Reed Exhibitions’ Vice President, Lance Fensterman, to chat about what's up with this year's show.

ANN: Tell  us a little about what the fans can expect to see at the show this year.

Lance Fesnterman:  I'll warn you, this could be a long answer.

Peter Tatara:  This is the NYAF second year. We started last December, we had a good show. This year will be absolutely spectacular. Our roster of guests this year is incredible. Yoshitaka Amano, Hideyuki Kikuchi, Rei Tanaka, Baby, the Stars Shine Bright, Iron Chef Morimoto. These are all incredible names, not just from the anime field but from across the Japanese pop culture spectrum. And that's what we're trying to do with this show is celebrate anything and everything within that big tent of of Japanese pop culture. So we're amazed to have all of these people from Japan.

Looking at American guests, we have voice actors coming in from all over the country. People like Tom Wayland, Michael Sinterniklaas, Rachael Lillis, and a lot of big VA names from New York City – people like Steven Blum, Brad Swaile, a bunch of folks from Texas I can't talk about yet. So it's pretty amazing to have people from New York, Texas, California, Canada.

We've got some amazing special events, too. The big thing is Saturday night, our Masquerade. And while most anime shows have a costume contest, but what sets NYAF apart is that we have a relationship with the World Cosplay Summit, which is basically the Olympics of cosplay. It's an international gathering every summer in Japan, with a dozen countries competing to see who's the best in the world, and Team USA is chosen at NYAF. If you enter the masquerade at NYAF, you not only have the chance to win all sorts of swag, including a super fun certificate signed by myself, you can also win a trip to Japan, meet dignitaries, and meet cosplayers from all over the world. We had our first winners chosen last year and they had an amazing time – they blogged the entire thing.

We're also partnering with Karaterice and The Knitting Factory, which is a historic live house here in New York City to have the “Far East to East Showcase”. It's a big concert with about a half dozen Japanese bands, and as we're trying to celebrate Japanese pop culture, in the middle of it all we have these 6 really kick-ass Japanese punk bands to rock the Knitting Factory. We have other bands from across the country at the Javits. Friday night we have MC Chris, who does rap for geeks – and that's what he calls himself, so we're not putting words in his mouth here – he raps about Star Wars, Star Trek, anime, World of Warcraft, he's a lot of fun. We also have the people from Bang Zoom coming out to do 2 days of Adventures in Voice Acting workshops, so you're going to meet Kyle Herbert, Steve Blum, Tony Oliver, and they'll teach you the basics. On the third day we have our friends from Tripwire Entertainment and NYAV Post holding “Who Wants to Be a Voice Actor”, which is a little different – it's a contest where one lucky fan will actually win a paying gig in an upcoming animated series that they're producing. So not only can you walk away from NYAF with a trip to Japan, but you can also score a paying gig as a voice actor.

One thing I'm personally excited for is that we have Japan Society coming in which is a reknowned Japanese language and culture institute right here in New York. They're doing a day of complimentary Japanese lessons. So it isn't just someone who speaks Japanese or someone who learned it in high school, this is a world-respected institution teaching basic Japanese classes all day long. So we're really happy to be working with them.

And to wrap the show up, we've invited everyone – fans, press, guests, dealers – to come on down to Iron Chef Morimoto's restaurant, which is named Morimoto, for an after-party from to 6-8pm Sunday night. So that's a thumbnail view – a large thumbnail – of New York Anime Festival.

Is there anything cosmetically different about the show? Is it still on the lower level of the Javits center? It felt a little like the basement. Is it a bigger show this year?

LB: Zac, we refer to it as Level 1. [laughs] “Basement” has connotations that we don't care for.

PT: I refer to it as the bunker. [laughs]

LB: Level 1 – it's in the same spot, it's almost the identical space to what we had last year.

PT: It's about the same; one change is that last year if you recall we had a big stage at the back of the exhibit hall. That stage has been moved into the big panel area, so the back of the exhibit hall will have a lot more dealers. So the exhibit hall consumes that entire hall now. That's the big difference – beyond that it's the same layout.

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