Monday, June 21, 2004

Well, I'm back from New Jersey. Nice change of pace, I suppose. Drove down with Dave A., who is now convinced that conventioneering makes for a good diet and exercise regime. Seacaucus is a really hard place to find a meal. All of the food outlets are reportedly concentrated on two tiny, constricted strips somewhere in the sprawl. I say reportedly, because we never found them. We descended upon what looked like a brand-spanking-new Olive Garden, only to find that it was so new, they hadn't actually finished the interior yet. Oops. We ended up eating mostly in the hotel.

The hotel itself was kind of interesting. It was built on a spit of land surrounded on two sides by the Hackensack River estuary, with levees in place in case a storm surge came calling. I got a good look at the grounds, because there was often not much for me to do in the convention proper. That, and it was hot as heck.

Anime Next is a third-year convention in a facility about one-half too small for the traffic they get. This resulted in an overcrowded hotel whose air conditioning couldn't keep up with the extra body heat. I found myself sweating like a cholera ward. Thank god for working hotel showers.

The attendees were another story. I went on the assumption that I'd see a lot of the New York/New Jersey silverbacks. I used to know a lot of people among that group. I'm not sure whether most of them have dropped out of fandom, or whether the bad feelings from the great Anime East debacle alienated them from the organizers of Anime Next, but the convention was notably light in Grand Old Men of Fandom. In fact, the convention was light in old men, period. The average age of the anime/manga fan continues to creep downwards. The median might be hovering on the verge of middle school at this point. Most of the people my age in attendance were there to keep an eye on their costumed children, as far as I could tell.

Hall costumes continue to spread through the general fan population. I'd guess that at least a third, if not quite one full half, of the attendees were in some kind of costume or get-up. Less amusingly, the convention security staff had decided that bokken, wooden Japanese practice-swords, were an unofficial part of their uniform. Every single security goon I saw had a wooden stick thrust through a belt while on duty. In 1994, for the convention I help run, one of my less-happy duties was the disarmament of our security detail. The kind of enthusiastic, testosterone-poisoned kids who are attracted to con security, should not be given the kind of encouragement represented by martial-arts accessories like nunchuks and bokken.

There was a three-hour panel listed opposite the cosplay/masquerade called "Cosplay Haters". We went down to hang out, and it turned out that there were no panelists as such. So we took it over. We managed about two hours of random bile, slander, and abuse before we ran short of invention and hot air.

Spent a lot of time in the panels, really. If you keep track of current happenings in anime, the video tracks are not going to contain anything exciting or new. Most other parts of the convention were too crowded, hot, or brief to really eat up a lot of free time. But, I got to hang out with some old Quest Labs alumni, and watch some new music videos.

Oh! The music video contest! Not bad, but not brilliant, either. I thought I spotted something of a homophobic backlash, but that might just be my bias talking. FLCL continues to be the source of a lot of decent music video material. It's just such a rock show, that it can be cut up into all sorts of music videos, from punk to Bryan Adams. I tend to like the sort of excessively over-edited, hyper affairs which the non-linear editing revolution allows. Somebody did a pitch-perfect Eva re-cast of the Cowboy Bebop "Tank" opening animation.

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