Although "report" may be too vainglorious a term to describe this entry because I didn't see very much of the con...and what I did see didn't necessarily wow me, though this was no fault of the programming.
The con got a much higher attendance rate than last year. The date change was certainly an important reason, and fact that it was in competition with Yaoicon seemed not to matter a whit. I remember taking one look at the wall-to-wall crowd of people in the Exhibition Hall when I arrived around noon on Saturday and *ahem* speed-walking in the other direction.
On Friday, I sat all the way through exactly one panel. The fan panel for Avatar: The Last Airbender. Not because I am myself a fan--I've never even watched the show--but because a friend of mine is, and we haven't seen each other in four-odd years. I did catch the tail-end of the Vertical panel...just in time to put my name for a last-minute entry into their drawing for the hardcover edition of Black Jack Vol. 1. Which, believe it or not, I won.
No, the rest of Friday was spent on in-person roundtables with the amazing gals of ANN and super-special guests, Margot (Margo? Never got her card, so I don't know the spelling! T_T) and Natalie and meals of pizza (lunch) and Korean food (dinner) with friends.
Saturday at Javitts was also spent on roundtables; in all we did five. Yes, five--a totally awesome output. Before those, however, I stopped in for the Del Rey panel, where the question on the minds of the "Manga Press Corps" (Deb Aoki's coinage) was what was going to happen to their special relationship with Kodansha. Although they were for the most part mum on a subject that is undoubtedly terrifying to them, Ali Kokmen revealed perhaps more than he intended when he noted that there is a steep learning curve that comes with entry into the American market. This is a valid point to be making; the Japanese media industries from Sony to Coamix have a long history of costly missteps in American markets due to their failure to fully understand the field. Does Kodansha understand the US manga field? I'm not yet convinced that they do, but pay very close attention to whom they hire to spearhead efforts here. Oh yeah, Del Rey announced some new licenses, but the only one that seemed to get people really excited was Moyasimon: Tales of Agriculture.
Because I decided to sit in the audience as a show of solidarity, I ended up actually on the two hour and fifteen minute ANN 10th Anniversary
monster panel, representing the freelance writers (lowest of the low and proud of it, goddammit!). I got ha ha no applause when I introduced myself, but something I said later on did get applause, which to my mind is far preferable. I couldn't care less whether or not people give a cracked penny about me personally, but I do appreciate it when my ideas are appreciated. Ya know. Lots of random giveaways went out to the audience, and I thought the questions were pretty darn good, considering, though granted I don't do these at every con like the rest of the crew does. The rest of the evening--nearly to the crack of dawn--was spent at dinner and later noraebang.
Which meant that I got literally three hours of sleep before I was back up and on the train once more. Sunday was my most panel-heavy day. State of the Manga Industry was more of the usual, and nothing they said surprised me. I did ask the "big" academic-egghead question that my prof. has been pressuring me about, and Kurt Hassler happily walked right into it exactly the way I thought he would. (Thank him for me, Tania!) The Yen Press panel immediately after was a hoot, and Rich Johnson took the opportunity to shine in a big way with a crowd-pleasing giveaway contest of the Haruhi manga. The Yen license announcements that seemed to get the most traction with the crowd were Spice and Wolf and Hero Tales by Arakawa Hiromu. Last and, alas, least was the Japanamerica panel with Roland Kelts, and...err... >_< Don't believe everything he says. I'll leave it at that.
Although I had planned to go home at 4 pm, I ended up, once again, going home nearer to 4 am after a second endless night of great Chinese food and roaring drunkenness (on the part of others--I don't drink) with people from ANN, Yen Press, Del Rey, Bandai, and Aniplex. All in all, it was a spectacular opportunity to hang out with a bunch of wonderfully fun and funny people, so I'm grateful to Evan for convincing me to stay. And finally, many many thanks to Jonathan for driving me a part of the way home.
By the way, the first place prize for best promo item at NYAF was a tie between Del Rey's squishy Phoenix Wright gavel and Vertical's blood-filled Black Jack syringe pen.