FanimeCon 2009
Day 2

by Evan Miller,

Quote of the Day

"Dude, who cares about the damn game? You mean chess? Chess is a game, not this stupid yelling-in-the-hall shit."

- Anonymous
overheard in the hallway; uttered in response to someone yelling "you lost the game"

We're staring down the barrel of FanimeCon's second day, my friends. Let's get right to it, shall we?

The 80's: Hair bands, cheesy films, and... fansubs?

Guests of honor Ryan Gavigan and Carl Horn kicked their Saturday at the convention off with a trip down memory lane, into the very beginnings of the "fansub" phenomenon over twenty years ago. They appropriately titled the panel Showa Fansabu to refer to the Showa era, the period during which Hirohito was Emperor of Japan that ended with his death in 1989. To set the mood, the panelists showed a clip of a news report about Hirohito's passing before delving into the main panel.

Carl Horn passed around a few programs from the Anime programming track of Bay Con 1986, a San Francisco-area Sci-Fi convention. The programs included "viewing guides" for fans who watched anime raw, since subtitling at home was impossible at the time. He also gave a nod to the first fansub ever created, Macross: Do You Remember Love?, which was subtitled at a video production studio and sold for 20 dollars or more so the subbers could recoup the studio rental costs. Horn soon got involved with fansubs himself, using a then state-of-the-art Commodore Amiga to fansub episodes of Lupin the Third.

One of the most intriguing parts of the panel was that it offered more than just a history of fansubs, but a look at the state of anime fandom in the 1980s. Gavigan and Horn had copies of the first North American anime fan magazine, Animag, on hand to pass through the audience. For those unfamiliar with Animag: the magazine was first published in 1987 on the campus of UC-Berkeley (which is also home to one of the first North American anime clubs, Cal Animage Alpha) and the staff of the magazine included many people who continue to work or freelance in the anime industry today. Covers were drawn by American artists until the third cover, when the magazine paid 700 dollars to Gainax's Yoshiyuki Sadamoto to create cover art based on the Wings of Honneamise anime.

It bears mentioning that Honneamise was a central theme at the panel, since the fansub of the film was a labor of love by Carl Horn and other fans who thought the film deserved more attention in the west. "We didn't even put our names on the project until the entire film and ending credits," said Horn, drawing a sharp contrast to the fansubs of today. "There was no other group doing fansubs then, so there was no competition aspect either."

J-Pop: A thing to be feared

Video rooms are still a big staple of programming at Fanime, and one can see why: almost half the programming isn't actually anime, but fan projects devoted to anime or similar media. One of the oddest - and popular - events to come from this programming track was a two hour block of "fabulously awful" Japanese music videos. I didn't manage to squeeze into the room for this one, but feedback was overwhelmingly positive. I'm just hoping that they managed to show the Soul'd Out classic Iruka at the panel, since it features dolphins that turn into humans and humans that shoot missiles from their stomachs. Or perhaps some of the indie Visual Kei videos where people throw themselves at walls/turn into giant animals/explode/etc. If only American music videos were this good!


YAY for this:

Yes friends, that's a masseuse giving massages in the center of the event hall, in front of Stage Zero. It's a little expensive, but as a congoer, I can definately appreciate the benefits of a shoulder rub in the middle of a long day. More of this, please.

NAY for the return of a very large, vocal group of "christians" who have decided to stand in front of the convention center and tell us all that we're going to hell again this year. They're passing out coins with religious propaganda engraved on them and have been busily following around congoers to pass them out. I have nothing against religious people, but harassment isn't okay. Anime fans do a good job at harassing back in creative, funny ways, but it still creates a vicious cycle of dreck that really isn't fun for everyone.

Regardless, if hanging out with geeky people to talk about animation and comics is a sin, I was doomed to hell over a decade ago. Besides, these people have massages. What's not to love?

Up next: Fandubs, Artist's Alley and more in the Day 3 report!

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