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SPECIAL REPORT: Otakon '99 Wrap-up

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Otakon '99 was held this past Independance day weekend, and here's a capsalized version of everything we could find out!

  • The convention was described by many as huge, with over 4500 people in attendance, a main auditorium that never achieved full capacity and a dealer room as big as the entire rest of the convention.
  • As always, some things go wrong. This year, according to FansView.com, fire alarms went off in the convention center four or five times during the convention (once interrupting Mari Ijima's concert), the artists complained that they weren't allowed to sell their goods and were forced to leave their tables early on Sunday, a cash box from a big company was stolen from the Dealer's Room, and other dealers complained that they were being charged for electricity and phone use. As always, room parties were broken up by hotel officials. Poor planning by convention officials, according to AnimeOnDVD.com, also resulted in some confusion from those running the panels, sometimes not even knowing what they were supposed to talk about!

  • Beloved composer Yoko Kanno (Macross Plus, Please Save My Earth, Cowboy Bebop, Vision of Escaflowne, Brain Powerd, Record of Lodoss War TV series, Memories, etc...) was in attendance (her first time at an American convention), and could be seen in the dealer room seeing what was for sale that she had a hand in. Later, Kanno gave a piano concert and laughed as fans started singing along with the opening theme to Vision of Escaflowne, Yakusoku Wa Iranai (she also played "Voices" from Macross Plus, the OP theme from Lodoss War TV, and a song from Cowboy Bebop). Kanno, a self-confessed fan of Western Jazz (Pat Metheney, Armando "Chick" Corea, George Clinton) and Classical music (Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel), told her panel about the ins and outs of her job. For composition, she uses only a piano (no synthesizers), and is sometimes left with only two weeks to score an anime that has already been made. (Then again, she finished the Macross Plus soundtrack two years before the movie was released...) "I compose music in my head and I write down the music score," said Kanno.

  • Anime creators Hiroyuki Kitakubo (Golden Boy, Ghost in the Shell PSX Cinemas director) , Maki Terashima (Production I.G International Operations Manager), Kazuto Nakazawa (animator and character designer), and Shinichirou Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop director) were also in attendance and joined in at a panel on the creation of anime. Kitakubo, who earlier announced his plans for world domination, said that he targets his creations toward himself. "I try to think that everyone in the world thinks the way I think. If I enjoy it, everyone in the world enjoys it." Watanabe likened anime to a gourmet meal, with the creators being the chef.

    Commercial company news

  • AnimeVillage's Jerry Chu put an end to speculation by finally announcing their new Gundam titles, Gundam Wing TV, Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz OAV series (both count as one series), and MS Gundam 8th Team. They also announced that they WILL be announcing two DVD releases next week at the Video Software Dealers Association convention (and they won't be Monkey Magic, either!). They won't say which titles just yet, but they hint that it may be bilingual (only a few dubs are being produced right now), they cannot be something that there is no DVD release of in Japan (this excludes Gundam and Escaflowne), and one source at AnimeVillage tells ANN that computer animation fans will be quite pleased. Another is said to still be "up in the air" with an announcement possible at AnimeExpo late this month.

  • ADV Films' Matt Greenfield told AnimeOnDVD.com's Chris Beveridge that the earlier comment regarding DVD releases being remixed in Dolby Digital AC-3 5.1 channel was taken out of context, and that while they would try it (if only as a learning experience), the process would certainly not hold up any DVD releases. New titles listed as "highly likely" by ADV for DVD release included Sorcerer Hunters, Nadia and the Secret of Blue Water, and Martian Successor Nadesico (which may utilize multiple camera angle features for some text-heavy scenes). The first TV series to get the DVD treatment, however, will be Bubblegum Crisis 2040, due out in October or November.

  • ADV commented that the Evangelion DVD's are underway, and will contain FOUR soundtracks, including English, Japanese, Spanish, and French. (The latter two are in PAL/SECAM formats, and are taking a while longer to resync with the NTSC video.) They expect the first volume to be out in December, and will contain four episodes. Release dates will not be announced very far ahead of time, mostly because The Slayers and Crystania DVD's were nearly complete but had minor picture problems that took weeks to correct, which forced them to delay the discs and angering vendors. Also, subtitles (which WILL be yellow with black borders) will no longer be based on the English screenplay, and this only happened with Tekken by accident.

  • At the Industry panel, Media Blasters head John Sirabella repeated that they are certainly wanting to do DVD releases, and the current candidates for release include Kite, Ninja Cadets, Earthian, and Elf Princess Rane. Magic Knights Rayearth is also a given, but won't happen until the VHS boxed set (priced at $99.95) is released, and may itself be a box.

  • The Right Stuf's Jeff Thompson announced the company's first CD Soundtrack releases, which will be the eleven Irresponsible Captain Tylor soundtracks. Other projects, other than the dub of the show's TV series, is the OAV series. A DVD release is also likely because of The Right Stuf's close ties to Pioneer.

  • Mixx Entertainment's Stu Levy talked about Mixxzine's changeover to TokyoPop, which will have only two manga features per issue. One of those may be Parasite, which was shelved earlier, but is Levy's favorite, according to an earlier interview, and he hopes to bring out all eleven volumes in English. Sailor Moon is doing well enough to go monthly, per demand of comic distribution monolith Diamond Comics, and while the live action movie project has been cancelled for now, the live action rights for Parasyte have been purchased. (Levy couldn't comment on who bought them.)

  • Pioneer, Viz Communications, Manga Entertainment, and Urban Vision Entertainment were all absent from the convention. Central Park Media's panel kept getting delayed.

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