AnimeJapan 2016 Photos: Part I & II

by Mike Toole,

It's finally here! The reason I flew across the country, over Alaska, and across the Pacific to Japan, the nation's biggest anime exposition, and it…

…well, it seems kinda empty, doesn't it? Let's head inside Tokyo Big Sight for a closer look.

I think I saw something, fellas.

Today was business day at Anime Japan, and amidst the relative quiet, I did manage to walk around and snap a few photos of Big Sight. Savor how empty it looks here, because it's not gonna be anywhere near that empty for the rest of the weekend.

The hallways outside of the cavernous East Hall are open to pedestrians, but the entranceways are being carefully guarded against prying eyes, because all of those fancy booths are still under construction. Hey wait a minute, I have a long zoom lens! Let's sneak a peek.

Not much to see, is there?

Fortunately, there were still some fresh sights to see out in those hallways. This giant sign is for Docomo Anime Store, a big streaming service. Yes, they do have widespread commercial streaming anime in Japan, because there's gotta be someplace you can go when eight zillion people are trying to watch some hip new anime on Nicodo and it just won't goddamn load.

Here's this chilling reminder that they're gonna try to do another Gantz thing. Actually, I've been meaning to read the ending of the comic.

And there's this humongous advertisement for the much-anticipated new Berserk anime. One look and you can tell that this isn't just going to be yet another Golden Age retread; the presence of Puck the elf (the tiny naked blue guy) confirms that we'll finally get to see more of Guts in his busted, cursed, and formidable Black Swordsman persona.

Whoa! That's one hell of a slogan there, Berserk.

As for business day itself, it's an extremely low key, modest affair involving a few dozen of the largest producers, distributors, and promoters of animation in Japan, meeting with overseas business partners and trying to close sales with prospective media buyers.

Some of the booths are pretty cool, like TBS's here.


I'm pretty excited for Haven't You Heard?! I'm Sakamoto, because the manga is hilarious.

The next aisle over, Toei were promoting Dragonball Super, which continues to be inexplicably MIA in the US and Canada.

They even had some helpful literature explaining all the stuff we learned from watching the Battle of Gods movie.

They also had fliers hawking Sailor Moon Crystal and the new Precure series, Mahou Tsukai Precure, or as they're touting it, Witchy Pretty Cure.

That's another thing that this little business meeting was swimming in: literature. Specifically, sell sheets. Here are a few more.

Tezuka Productions weren't pushing Belladonna of Sadness, presumably because Cinelicious have taken up its cause. But they did have fliers for their other two Animerama films, so maybe they're still on the market?

Here's a movie I'm very eager for licensing news about.

I'll take all of these. Can someone with money please get on the phone with Nippon Animation?!

The fliers are interesting, because to me they feel like relics of a bygone age. When I first started as a critic and op-ed writer, sell sheets were king; they were used not just for overseas promotion, but to get retail stores interested in the stuff that North American anime companies were selling. But over the past decade, much of the entertainment business has switched over to digital press kits, making these paper pages feel a little archaic. One really nice thing: the kind of nightmarish Engrish that used to be quite common on these pages is now quite rare.

Do you like the Chibi Maruko-chan movie? Or the Sound! Euphonium movie? Pony Canyon sure hopes you do!

TMS had those cool Lupin the 3rd old-timey art pieces you might've read about recently.

The whole rigamarole of wheelers and dealers wandering the aisles to press the flesh was very interesting to me, because so many of the shows being touted have already been sold off in a variety of regions.  Still, it was an interesting experience to watch high-level Japanese licensing agents talk turkey with local heroes like Right Stuf/Nozomi's Shawne Kleckner, Sentai Filmworks’ Matt Greenfield, and Manga/Animatsu UK's Jerome Mazandarani, amongst many others. Everyone was out there, doing their business. Eventually, I got tired of this funny business and went looking for something to eat.

Thanks! I will definitely hug some French Toast.

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