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~生まれた町で夢見てきた...~
"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Onnafest 2005 Report 
10th-Oct-2005 10:04 pm
Winter
Well, it was not, despite Erica Friedman's exhortations on the Yuricon Mailing List, a Yuricon by any other name. Nor was it even a clone of the very first Shoujocon. Yes, indeed, I can safely say that Onnafest, which took place on this past Columbus Day Weekend October 8-10th at the Newark Gateway Hilton, had a bit of an identity crisis. Many of the attendees treated it like a general con...though I must say that the programming itself was very much along the lines of the mission statement: About everything women are. All of the special guests were Western artists, and all of the artists in the Artist's Alley were women.

Artist's Alley and The Art Show
The Art Show was beyond pitiful; there were less than 10 separate pieces showing, and NONE of them were very good. The Artist's Alley was a bit better. No one's work absolutely blew me away, but I picked up four doujinshi from two different artists. One particular young woman who will remain nameless was selling copybon artbooks for *gasp* $25 each! *snorts* I wonder if she sold even a single book? If it wouldn't have been unspeakably rude to do so, I would have told her that her art wasn't worth it at that price. Even so, I spent a decent amount of time there hanging out and having delightful conversations with the passivesoul, who was, much to her dismay as time passed, on-duty there.

The Dealer's Room
VERY small, but we already knew that from the first Shoujocon, didn't we? The only three publishers represented there were ALC Publishing, DramaQueen, and Media Blasters, and I purchased items from two out of the three. Media Blasters was, incidentally, selling Legend of the Blue Wolves at their table--ahead of the official street release. The rest of the dealers will selling overpriced (and sometimes bootlegged) merchandise. I saw a Fruits Basket artbook priced at $39! *gasp* About the only good thing about the dealer's room was that it was a good place to find people that I knew.

Panels
Guess they were having trouble locating panelists, eh? I attended a few, but hands down the most interesting was the "Yaoi" panel, which had two industry people sitting on it (a novel concept for me). I learned that Tokuma Shoten was enormously displeased with the DMP publication of their Only the Ring Finger Knows, Desire, and Passion titles and have since become much stricter licensing out their products for American release. Also learned that a certain other popular BL publisher (three guesses as to which one :P ) refuses as a matter of policy to provide American companies with masters of the original artwork because they do not want the quality of the American publication to match or exceed the quality of their own. Media Blasters has promised more "yaoi anime" for the near-future...and given that there aren't many other titles out there, I bet we can make some good guesses as to what's down the pike. (Just don't bet on Ai no Kusabi.) A second panel with a lot of potential, "Mistreatment of Shoujo by American Companies," ended up being a total audience wank fest about the edits to their favorite anime series moderated by a moron who didn't even pronounce "shoujo" correctly.

Video Rooms
What with the advent of downloadable anime files, the appeal of the convention video room has correspondingly been downgraded in my eyes. (Not that I watch digital fansubs all that much, anyway.) Still, I thought the selection and variety of programming was excellent, and I managed to catch an episode of the live-action drama Kimi wa Pet--and I admit that, if I let myself, I could get REALLY addicted to that show.

Miscellaneous Programming
The masquerade on Saturday was enjoyable, though I felt that the quality of the costumes in general did not match the quality of what I've seen elsewhere. The Gelatine concert that came before it, on the other hand, was a punk noise fest that made me want to curl up and hide as soon as I got within 30 feet of the room. The Wackathon, a Shoujocon tradition, was hugely popular but intruded on the guest panel with Tania Del Rio that I was attending. (Apparently, I'm one of the few people running around on this planet that understood the origin of the TOKYOPOP retitling of Kimi wa Pet to Tramps Like Us.) Perhaps the most fun was The Dating Game, which paired up some very uncomfortable volunteers and victims and featured some hilarious questions, such as: "If you were a magical boy, what would your powers be and describe your magic wand." and "Imagine we're both mech pilots at a bar. What's your pickup line?"

Networking
This was another stated mission of Onnafest--bringing the comic creators of today in contact with the comic creators of tomorrow. While I am not and never will be a comic book creator, I did do some networking as a freelance writer on behalf of Anime Insider, informing Erica Friedman of ALC, Tran Nguyen of DQ, and Tania Del Rio that I may be able to include them on the monthly Manga Releases if I have over two months of a heads-up. This was purely self-initiative on my part; God knows that the editor could can me tomorrow if they want to. But I figure that, if at all possible, I would like to get the smaller manga publishers onto the release schedule; all you really have to do to learn what's come out lately from VIZ Media and TOKYOPOP, say, is to take a quick trip to the bookstore. On the other hand, if you're not a very proactive, dedicated manga reader, you might not know what is coming out from the smaller publishers AT ALL unless you read the AI list of releases--especially now that Newtype USA has utterly done away with theirs. (Now if only I could get the ear of a person from Potent Mon...)

Friends
I think I got enough interpersonal interaction this past weekend to last me for at least a couple of months! I hung out with kaine_maxwell and his friends (a few delightful people!) on Saturday morning and afternoon and then with passivesoul, along with a scanlator named Alexis and another young woman whose name I have forgotten, into the evening. (I'm gonna hold you to that expensive dinner promise! ^_~ ) On Sunday, I connected with velvetpaws soon after arriving and was able to catch up on the news from her front. Unfortunately, I did not get contact info for the majority of the people that I met. If we met at Onnafest, by all means, drop me a line! ^_^

All in all, Onnafest was a convention that was better in theory than it was in practice, but the concept was a noble one that has plenty of room for expansion. Hopefully, once the rest of the fandom world has figured out who they are, exactly, they will receive much wider casual support.
Comments 
11th-Oct-2005 02:08 am (UTC)
"I learned that Tokuma Shoten was enormously displeased with the DMP publication of their Only the Ring Finger Knows, Desire, and Passion titles and have since become much stricter licensing out their products for American release."

Do you mind me asking why exactly they were so displeased? I'm really curious, to say the least.
11th-Oct-2005 02:12 am (UTC)
I'm not certain I'm in any position to inquire further. ^^;;; However, I would guess that it had something to do with the reproduction and touchup quality. The translation is subpar, as well, but I'm figure the Japanese aren't going to realize that. What do you think? Have you seen the books yourself?
11th-Oct-2005 03:27 am (UTC)
I hope this doesn't mean they'll stop licensing them completely. I like a lot of the titles of Tokuma Shoten.
11th-Oct-2005 12:26 pm (UTC)
*smirks* You probably haven't noticed, but none of the many upcoming "Yaoi" books from DMP are Tokuma Shoten titles...
11th-Oct-2005 11:56 am (UTC)
$25 each? for stapled fanzines? Holy crap. What was in those books, biblical pr0n?
The only time I've seen overpriced staple books is from a certain artist online whom I won't name for fear of being flamed- but wow.
11th-Oct-2005 12:28 pm (UTC)
They weren't fanzines per se. It was all original, full-color art (not manga)...but, I'm sorry, there's no way even color printer ink justifies that cost. She must've had a really high opinion of her own abilities...
11th-Oct-2005 06:37 pm (UTC)
So.. It was fun? ^_^
11th-Oct-2005 08:25 pm (UTC)
The con programming itself was pretty lousy, but meeting people was interesting.
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