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Photos from AnimeJapan 2016 Part II: The Show Floor

by Mike Toole,

It's really finally here! Up next are the sights, sounds, and impressions of Japan's biggest commercial anime exposition. More than 120 exhibitors including anime studios, manga and book publishers, media companies, toy and merch creators, academic institutions, and more flooded into big sight to entertain more than a hundred thousand anime lovers from Japan and beyond. Let's take a look.

Right at the start of things, in East Hall 1-3, Sony set the stage with this giant pair of headphones. I kept staring at these phones, wondering if they'd fit on the head of the Colossal Titan from my Universal Studio Japan report.

A closer look revealed that Sony were hawking their hi-res audio music players. It's interesting to me that Sony are still trying to make high end, standalone music players happen, even in the face of the global public gradually migrating their media over to their smartphones. Me, I just want a small MP3 player with a big hard drive. Not surprisingly, Sony just happened to use music from films distributed by Aniplex, their anime subsidiary. Anthem of the Heart was a pretty big presence at Anime Japan.

Then, it was on to the Bushiroad booth! Bushiroad, known the world over for their trading card games, anime and manga franchise about trading card games, their ownership of New Japan Pro Wrestling, and that one weird time they temporarily gained control of the My Little Pony license in Japan. Their giant both was immediately noticeable for its generously large banner of Nintama Rantaro, a kids’ anime from 20 years ago.

Is this new iteration destined to be folded into Weiss Schwarz, Bushiroad's anime-flavored card game? Maybe so. In the meantime, let's take a look at what all children around the world want most.

That's right: Milky Holmes.

That's right: Milky Holmes pachislot machines.

Nope, I don't understand it, either.

Bushiroad also had a corner for Bang Dream, a new media franchise all about cute girls who play ESP guitars, just like Metallica.

And of course here's one of Anime Japan's 800-pound gorillas, Love Live!

Eager fans could queue up and receive a new card for the Love Live! trading card game at this booth.

Turn the corner, and there's cute girl versions of Ultraman monsters, being hawked by…

…cute girl versions of Ultraman monsters.

This was part of a little trend at Anime Japan – cute little fuzzy or inflatable mascots that would cling to your arm. Several booths had ‘em!

Last but not least, Bushiroad had a nice little area set of for their Luck & Logic card game/anime series. Not only was there a rare card up for grabs, but you could roll up and play other fans at the provided tables.

Actually, I spoke too soon. Like every other goddamn booth, Bushiroad even had a stage!

Right next door to Bushiroad was d Anime Store, the streaming portal run by telecom giant Docomo.

Macross Delta is yet another franchise that could be found at several places at Anime Japan, starting with the d Anime Store booth.

In fact, the entire Macross franchise was being touted. This is something d Anime Store hypes to fans – their relatively deep back catalog.

Turn around, and there's a big stage and screen for A応P, the so-called “Anime Cheer Project.” I didn't stick around at this booth, largely because press are prohibited from photographing the talent that appear onstage. Ahhh, that's no fun!

Producer and distributor Pony Canyon had a large booth, mainly to sell merchandise and remind fans which hit shows they're responsible for publishing, like Show By Rock!! and PA Works’ brand new Kuromukuro.

Then it was on to toy giants Banpresto, who came to give fans a peek at all of the crap they're filling up UFO Catcher machines with these days.

I gotta admit, I'm a big fan of that new Jojo's stuff. Jojo's Bizarre Adventure is yet another heavyweight series that made its presence known at several booths.

Look at how cute these stylish delinquents are!!

Madoka Magica remains an enduring part of the anime landscape.

Plus, there's new stuff from dueling idol franchise Idolmaster and Love Live.

This cat is the boss, I'm guessing. I complained to him about how crane games are a huge ripoff and that you only ever win if you constantly bug the staff to reset the crane target, but he didn't listen. I guess he was sleeping.

Matsu-mania was in effect at Anime Japan, starting with these sweet (and un-buyable, at least at the show) prize goodies.

Then, this stylish person confronted me with literature about some new anime hits.

Oh hey, animate! The otaku goods superstore had a large booth, celebrating both their retail success…

…and their exhibit for Hacostadium, a series of retail locations where you can go with your finest cosplay costumes and pay a few bucks to shoot photos in a variety theme rooms, like school classroom, medieval castle, and this hectic business office.

Who are these dudes? I don't know, but their publicist really doesn't want you taking their photographs!

Across the way from anime is Sankyo, one of the show's most visible sponsors.

Sankyo makes pachinko and pachislot machines, like this cool Space Battleship Yamato one.

Man, I hate pachinko machines. The game itself is barely even a game (it's less playable than pinball, if you ask me), it's a weird legalized form of gambling, and the boxes are noisy as hell. The thing is, pachinko companies are constantly going at anime companies, looking for tie-ins to bring the pikers into their parlors. And anime companies are more than happy to take the money. The relationship is actually extremely lucrative – it was pachinko revenue that really got the ball rolling on Rebuild of Evangelion, for example. Yamato is a pachinko mainstay – there are new machines pretty much every year.

Sanada says “Here, take this nice pen.”

It's Satelight's Macross Delta booth! Now that's more like it. Not only did they have this cool row of standees to introduce fans to the characters…

…feast your eyes on this, a huge-scale Valkyrie from the new series! Let's take a closer look.

Tokyo MX, one of the big TV stations that broadcast anime, had a booth.

Anime characters are real, guys. Hatsune Miku is real, and strong, and she's my friend. Wait, didn't I already do that joke? Whatever.

She does look good, though.

Marvelous Pictures always makes me start to do a bad Billy Crystal imitation, until I realize that the whole joke is something like 35 years old.

They were on hand to promote their new series, Qualidea Code, with these cool cosplayers.

See? It's all very high qualidea.

There was also a sizable presence of promotional crap for musicals, which have turned into a major moneymaker for companies. Like this Yowapeda musical!

TV Tokyo are both a TV station and a producer of entertainment, including plenty of anime. They had a whole bunch of information about new anime.

New anime like Re: Zero, which is a light novel title if there ever was one.

And Hundred, yet another new project that appeared at more than one booth.

Plus, they're where you go to see Mr Osomatsu!

This is basically what an awful lot of booths were all about. Dezaegg is in the licensed goods business to begin with, so they were always going to be selling merchandise. But very few large booth installations went without at least one area like this one – a place to queue up and buy something, oftentimes something that couldn't be bought anyplace except Anime Japan.

King Blade! I love these guys! King Blade are one of two big-deal glowstick manufacturers, the companies that supply the vast oceans of anisong nerds with luminescent wands to wave in time to their favorite idols and anime theme song performers. They were doing good business, largely because a number of stages around the hall were staging concerts and musical numbers.

You know, there's a JK Meshi anime, but their booth somehow involved remotely playing a crane game. (Hey, did you know those were a ripoff?!)

Fate Grand Order had one of the biggest booths in the entire expo, a massive area to show off the smash hit mobile game.

It was tied together with this huge centerpiece.

Not to mention production artwork from the game's animation!

Plus, there were the cars. I'm assuming that this is either leading up to a Fate kart racing game (I double-dog dare you to tell me that you wouldn't play it!) or a part in the next Fate series where Rin backs over Shiro by accident.

Here by my car, Saber is hanging out.

I can wave hi to Rin, it's the only way to live…

…in cars.

Right next to Fate Grand Order was another hugely busy booth, Sony. They had one massive line to demo dozens of their forthcoming VR headsets. Thanks to the on-the-spot negotiating of ANN's new Tokyo correspondent Ken Iikura-Gross, I was able to secure an appointment to experience The Deep, an in-development VR adventure.

The extremely earnest Sony rep asked me to include my impressions of the hardware and game in my report, so here goes nothing. In short, Sony VR really works. It's by no means perfect – it's still pretty easy to notice the edges of the screens when the headset is on, which is something you want to minimize. Also, while you have the point of view of a diver heading down to a wrecked submarine in a protective cage, you'll feel weird as hell when you look down and see that you have no body.

Nonetheless, I found myself impressed with how I truly had 360 degrees of space to view the area around me – as a great white shark circled and made its way towards me, I was able to track its progress in the waters just by moving my head to follow it. This is a promising VR system that really made me forget, for just a minute or two, that I was in a humongous expo hall surrounded by tens of thousands of otaku.

Nearby, I spotted a nice Tales of Zestiria exhibit, and immediately took photos of the artwork.  See that “no photos” thingy? Yeah, I didn't! The reason I still included this is because of the funny conversation I had with the booth rep – he let me take a few photos once he realized I was press and wouldn't just share the photos privately with my friends. That stuck me as kinda funny – he wanted to make sure that, if some rando was in his booth shooting photos, it was for promotional purposes, darn it!

Al Pacasso? Al Pacasso's guns don't argue! Alpacas are still in, I guess.

Here's something called Megumi Kato Project. The booth is something I wasn't even able to get near during show hours, because it involved going on virtual dates with a very shy and pretty young lady – basically catnip for lonely otaku dudes.

However, I could get close to this 3D version of Megumi Kato, who looks kinda creepy. Something about the backlighting makes her look like one of the hotel denizens from The Shining.

Pierrot were here! Mainly to sell you Osomatsu stuff.

Animax, Southeast Asia's big anime cable channel, was also on hand, promising a free PS4 to anyone who could draw the correct number from this replica of Rover from The Prisoner. I failed, despite the fact that I tweeted the above photo to gain entry to the contest.

As you can see by their hilariously large booth, Toho are seemingly involved in every big hit anime.

First, you'll notice their ardent support for My Hero Academia, which was probably the single most visible new series of the entire show.

Hey look, it's All Might!

He looks like he was hanging around for too long in the microwave.  

If you were willing to stand in an unbelievably long line, you'd get a genuinely cool free Haikyu mini-calendar.

Finally, Toho had a small exhibit for the new Detective Conan movie, The Darkest Nightmare.

Comix Wave were nearby, touting a couple of things.

One, the above, is Peeping Life, a surprisingly funny CG show that focuses on dialogue-driven comedy rather than slapstick. It's kinda hit or miss, but I was glad to see it representin’.

The other big Comix Wave thing? Makoto Shinkai's new film, Your Name. Both Comix Wave and Toho, the distributor, were flogging the hell out of Shinkai's forthcoming work. I understand it has a lot of clouds in it.

The other other big Comix Wave thing? Soubi Yamamoto's “This boy can ____” franchise. Yes, it's a franchise now! Because I said so.

Tohokushinsha had a massive booth for one reason and one reason only: Garo.

It was mostly for the benefit of these pachinko machines. Admittedly, they're cool, if unbelievably noisy.

Note the two pop-up Garo heads!

Anyway, one of the best parts of the entire showfloor was the Garo armor. Even my mediocre photo-taking skills were unable to make the Golden Knight armor look anything less than amazing.

Tohokushinsha were also there to tout Garo in general, including the forthcoming Garo: Divine Flame movie. Look at the size of this screen!!

The last and biggest booth in the entire show belonged to Aniplex. They had this thing called Smile Lab, featuring a variety of characters from popular shows, dressed in their Sunday best, smiling real big. It was pretty strange.

They also had cool stuff like this replica prop from the new hotness that is Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress.

Remember what I was saying about musicals? Aniplex had ‘em, featuring their Naruto musical.

Just one gander at the wall tells you how far their reach is these days – these are the shows Aniplex is setting up for the summer.

The booth also had production artwork from hit shows like Fate/Zero.

Their booth also had some hype for the shonen hit Seven Deadly Sins, which is getting a new season pretty soon.

Yep, everything that you associate with Aniplex is right here, right down to the expensive premium blu-rays.

Not to mention some very educational production artwork.

Step into East Hall 3-4, and you'll see an entire goddamn pavilion of exhibits, just as large as Hall 1-2. Instead of going through the whole thing this time, let's just focus on one end: the kids’ table!

Yes, this time Anime Japan included the Family Anime Festa, a small pavilion of exhibits for families. Check out the Crayon Shin-chan bouncy house!


Fire up the Aikatsu van! I had to fight the urge to load this baby up with a bunch of mystery-loving teenagers and their talking great dane.

Aikatsu dresses were also on display…

…as well as a big stage for Dragon Ball Super…

…and a great big PriPra screen.

I'm told that the Aikatsu voice actresses were in the house and appeared on this stage, but when I happened by the girls hadn't yet been plugged in and booted up.  

And that's all for Anime Japan Day 1! The sheer enormity of the experience is… honestly, it's a lot like any big comic convention. If you show up early, you'll have about thirty or forty minutes of rushing around the expo floor trying to get rare stuff before the other 85,000 people flood in and stand in front of you, playing with their phones.

Stay tuned for the rest of hall 3-4, plus a little bit of cosplay and Akihabara's famous Kanda shrine!

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