The weather report promised one soggy weekend with Hurricane Kyle climbing up the East Coast, but that didn’t stop otakus and curiosity seekers from packing the NY Anime Fest for its Saturday and Sunday events.Walking through the dealer room was a slow motion contact sport, with fans doing their best getting from one booth/table to the next. The Akibahara stage provided a wide range of musical acts covering everything from J-Pop to some actually pretty good pop-influenced jazz. The film The Girl Who Leapt Through Time greatly expanded its fan base with several screenings, making it probably the most popular new project of the con. On the news front there were a few items of interest, but it was a lot quieter, in that sense, when compared to Friday. An informed source at Bandai expects that Cartoon Network and Adult Swim will start restoring its anime programming in the near future. “There is no way Cartoon Network is giving up Naruto or Pokemon any time soon,” said the source. “We also want people to make sure Code Geass is not cancelled and will be back on a more convenient time slot in the near future. Probably the most interesting panel of the entire convention was chaired by Golden Harvest’s Kevin McKeever. Entitled “Anime in China,” McKeever reported the market there is growing beyond any professional’s expectation. A recent convention in Hong Kong brought in nearly a half million fans, and the con was only in its third year. After his discussion with the fans, McKeever reported that anime and manga are also growing in leaps and bounds in cities like Shanghai and Beijing. Expect a full article on this subject in the near future. For a real love fest, one had to attend the panel featuring anime golden agers Corrinne Orr and Peter Fernandez. The voice artists, whose work spans all the way back to Astro Boy and Speed Racer basically recalled their experiences from the beginning of anime on U.S. TV to their recent work on the Wachowski Brothers adaptation of Speed . Nothing earth shattering, but still nice to see the two fit and hale. A more sobering panel was “Voice Actors In the City.” At that panel, veterans including co-chairs Veronica Taylor and Michael McGonigle, Lisa Ortiz, Rachel Lillis, Michael Sinterniklass and director Tom Wayland advised aspiring fans to not give up their day jobs. There were many voice actors, including those who get lead voice roles for series, who still have problems paying their bills month to month. “There were times where I painted faces at kids parties, waitered catered events and did off Broadway while I was also doing major jobs,” said Taylor, who is best known as the original voice of Ash Ketchum for Pokemon and now is the lead in Dinaosaur King. “My main advice is to make your regular job conform to fit into your plans for voice work,” added Wayland. “You don’t have to be a waiter. If you can end up doing other kinds of acting or production at the same time, that’s all the better.” That still didn’t stop a ton of vo wannabes from going to the Bang Zoom-presented “Adventures in Voice Acting” sessions held throughout the weekend. A number of pros gave fans plenty of tips on how to improve their performances. Many of them needed them. Many of them hopefully also have sympathetic day jobs.
Before going, it should be noted that NYC’s Japan Society, one of the biggest promoters of American/Japanese cross culturalization in the city, will also have a convention early next year. Entitled “Krazy! The Delicious World of Anime + Manga + Games,” it is actually being assembled by the Vancouver Art Gallery and will touch on a number of more high-art oriented material than more fan-oriented conventions present. It will start on March 13 and run through June 14, with different subjects on different days. For more information on this upcoming event, check out the URL: www.japansociety.org.In all, one could say that even though anime and manga are going through some interesting times as far as sales and viewership is concerned, there is still more than enough people interested in it to fill a pretty large area of New York City’s Jacob Javits Center. It will be interesting to see what happens next year when the event returns.