First of all, I have to apologize for how late this article is appearing; I became very sick after the convention and recovery has been slow between my day job and other personal commitments. My name is Jack, better known as StarCreator to some. I was invited here to share my opinions and experiences at New York Anime Fest 2010.
NYAF 2010 was definitely very unique, in that the parent company decided to combine it with their other, larger event, New York Comic Con. The difference this made was massive; in the span of a single year, NYAF went from being a small con focused almost exclusively on industry and their musical guests, to a behemoth of a convention encompassing everything from video game demonstrations to independent comic artists, with what was left of NYAF literally under their feet. The difference is so large, that even though I have been attending anime conventions for the better part of 11 years, the most similar convention to NYAF 2010 I have attended was actually PAX East last year – which makes sense, knowing both conventions are run by the same exhibitions company.
Overall, I’m still not quite sure what to think of the convention. The two events definitely did not meld together well, and getting around was quite difficult due to the sheer number of attendees crammed into relatively small paths. The show floor itself, at its worst, was nearly unnavigable; I’m told there were a few dealers selling anime goods in a corner, but I was never able to wade in that far. In the end, I only made it to about half the number of events in the convention I had intended, as dealing with the large crowd was exhausting and most of New York’s better food options brought me far from the convention center.
While there were some non-anime events that were quite enjoyable, such as seeing some really good StarCraft II matches at the Intel Extreme Masters tournament, I think that as an anime con goer, NYAF was better off when it wasn’t shoehorned into a much larger event. I still had a great time, but it was in large part due to the company I kept throughout the weekend rather than the events at the convention itself.
In the next part of my NYAF impressions, I’ll take a closer look at the specific events I attended.
If anyone seems quite out of the loop, Minori Chihara, referred to as Minorin by fans, was the featured guest at New York Anime Festival 2010. Fans should know she is a Japanese pop singer as well as a voice actress. She is well known for her portrayal of Yuki Nagato in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.
Let me just say one thing. A speaker podium was in the way, so there was absolutely no view of her from where I was sitting with @starcreator. I couldn’t even see her facial expressions. Also there was a policy of no video recording, and no photograph taking until the last ten minutes of the panel.
So while this transcript is not quite like her voice, and based on typing down what her interpreter said, hopefully fans who missed out on this experience would not mind and love her more for it. I also took the liberty of editing, for cohesion.
Hello everyone! Nice to meet you!
Everyone may or may not know this, but this is the very first time Ms. Chihara is in New York, so we’re going to ask her what her impressions are of the city so far?
I arrived yesterday evening, and at first I didn’t feel like this was New York. Was I even in New York? But then I saw all the streets, and nice views, then I finally realized that I am in the city. The view is amazing, so I am really happy to be here.
Has she tried any of the foods or cuisines in the city?
Last night we went to an Italian Restaurant. There’s a really good olive oil there. I ate a lot of bread dipped in olive oil, so that’s what I ate last night. Great bread there too as well. The bread that they served in the airplane was also really good as well. This morning (Friday) I ate a lot of bread as well.
This is not Chihara’s first United States convention, but definitely her first East Coast one; she has previously appeared at Anime Expo. Still how do the cons compare, whether in America or Japan?
This is my second time in the United States, and that was three years ago. I have been to other non-Japan location for events: Los Angeles, Taiwan, and Malaysia and right now New York.
When I do a singing concert in Japan, I see the audience match in dancing, or same color penlights, and it seems so united. So that may be a difference.
When I sing outside of Japan, everyone has different reactions. Cheering styles are different, and it feels very free, so that makes me feel free as well.
[From this part, I am definitely noting how different Western and Asian society is, and Chihara was remarking on it. Japan is definitely a very united in terms of group activities.]
Since [NYAF] is screening The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya and her character Yuki Nagato is quite central to the movie, what was Chihara’s impressions or experience with the character, and how the movie was different from the television series?
When I was acting as Yuki for an entire series, there were no expressions or emotions, so that is why I tried so hard to be monotone. This time in the movie, Yuki is a normal girl and this persona is maybe what Yuki wanted to be, so that’s why I tried to find out what Yuki feels like, if Yuki was a normal girl. There is a great heart that was born inside of her, and as a normal girl—that’s what I wanted to be.
Explain what she feels when she does the voice of Yuki. How does she achieve that monotone, or get into the character?
[There] was a lot of pressure on how I felt, while I was acting this character. So when I was playing Yuki, she is such a popular character, and an ultimate super girl. There are so many difficult Japanese words in my character’s dialogue, and I can’t stutter or slow down and I have to say them real fast. So fitting the pace of her mouth movement was really hard and challenging to work with. It was hard to breathe sometimes. [Probably to practice and memorize] So I have the script with me all the time, not just when I was home or on the train.
Does she then find herself not forgetting Yuki, that the character is always with her then?
You’re right, and I always found Yuki at my side.
Can Chihara talk about the song for the movie: her process of making the song, title, and impressions.
The theme for the movie is “Yasashii Boukyaku” [優しい忘却] and the producer for Suzumiya said that with the disappearance of Haruhi, Yuki will be the key/main person. So the producer gave us the initial idea or inspiration for this song. When I got the song, I felt overwhelmed and it made me cry. This song doesn’t even need to have lyrics, just the music already overwhelmed me and that’s what I felt.
Was this then a difficult song to perform because of your emotion?
You are right. So when I recorded this song, which was right after the movie shoot. I could actually hold onto the sentimental feelings of Yuki from the movie, and how I stayed in character even when I was recording the song. I was happy with how the song came out, and afterward I couldn’t even stand. I was so drained as I sat on the floor.
Then I can imagine that fans can’t hardly wait until Chihara performs the song at the concert then.
I am looking forward to singing it for you all.
Before we move onto the fan questions, since New York is well known for music, I am curious if she has any American singers or rock bands that she listens to?
Britney Spears, Aerosmith.[I believe she also said Bon Jovi.]
The questions after this came from fans.
What was her favorite anime character role and why?
Ahhh the T-shirt is of Yuki… [said Chihara indicating the fan’s shirt] Every character I play, and of course I love every character, but if you insist for me to say who is my favorite – then I would have to say it is Yuki. The reason is because the Yuki character gave me a lot of great opportunities.
As a voice actress, it is hard to get spots, and I also love to sing, but opportunities are few, so this role gave me opportunities. Now I can release albums and expand on the music part of my career. It is a good turning point in my career, so that’s why it is so important in my life.
Already lots of Asian groups are touring the United States, so then are you going to tour the States, because you’re just so awesome. I will purchase your CD’s.
Wow, I am happy. Thank you! Yes that will be pretty awesome to have a concert and tour. That will be pretty great. I will try to keep it up with that. I will try to find an opportunity to come back.
What is it like to work with the cast of Haruhi?
Everyone had a great character, and it was quite exciting to work with this cast. It was great leaning, and opportunity. Especially with Tomokazu Sugita [Kyon]. He had a lot of talents, so I really looked up to him.
A fan then started to talk with Chihara in Japanese. Of course the moderator needed to ask for a question.Chihara complimented the fan on his Japanese. This question is in regards to a role Chihara did in Occult Academy, where it changed drastically from the beginning to the end. So how was her feeling in the transition?
This is the first time, that I did such a role. So it was a very cute and sweet character, yet evil. Is it even okay to talk about the ending of the show? [Fans called out no!] Okay to talk about the character without the ending, I was very surprised to get a villain character, so that’s not spoiling the character. I had a great time with the character.
What was your favorite line to read as Yuki?
The end of it, when the whole world changed…. some people never watched the movie, so are you guys going to watch the movie? I’ll tell you later then.
What other foods in New York do you like to eat, and how is your work as a voice actress?
New York seems to have a lot of great foods, different types of cuisines. Can you recommend anything?
Fans started to shout out foods to eat. “Pizza,” and “cheesecake” were suggestions that Chihara exclaimed about. So she said she definitely wouldn’t mind tasting cheesecake.
My voice acting job is not too busy. I can do it at my own pace, but acting is quite different and not so easy. I have to understand how a character acts and feels. I go on site, and ask questions to experience and understand or learn more. Once the director asks, when I am ready then I try to do it.
Your vocal version of “Haru Haru Yukai” is sung very different, than your normal voice, very pleasant and emotional. What was your inspiration to sing it like that?
I still remember the recording day, because all the other characters sang, we tried Yuki’s character a lot in tune (with recording). I have to say Yuki doesn’t match, but we talked a lot with the producer, and decided to keep the song. The song’s feeling is stronger. Let’s keep the song’s flow than focus on thethe character’s voice.
I want to ask about her fan club, its Japanese only right now, but is there a chance for it to be open to international fans?
It’s a management issue, so (interpreter) needs to talk with the management.
For Haruhi episode 6, she sang “Paradise Lost.” Was that her choice to sing in that particular episode?
Staff decision. The producer asked and I did it.
There are parts in the Haruhi series that were really funny. Was it hard for you to stay in the deadpan serious voice in those scenes?
Difficult, very difficult! Other cast members play around, and have fun in those parts. But to stay in character, I had keep my emotion in check. It was quite frustrating.
How do you practice or practice your voice training, is it difficult?
I have been voice training since my youth. So I still practice every week. Even now I am still taking lessons.
Are there any new anime, or characters that she is working on?
Now there is Yumeiro Pâtissière. My character’s name is Maize. So this week, my character is being aired in Japan. So I was recording at home. When I am in New York, that is when my character is being introduced.
This was the only Minori Chihara panel that I was able to attend. I found online that Chihara Minori has already placed on her blog that she is back in Japan already. This news is courtesy of hashihime’s blog.
Everyone who reads this blog, should know about X Japan, after all they are trying to make it big in the United States, as they are enormous in Asia. X Japan has one song that was taken as an movie anime theme, “Forever Love” is CLAMP’s 1996 movie version of X. In fact they are as I like to call, Japanese ‘KISS’ since they are the band credited with popularizing the wave of Visual Kei.
From, Sugizo and Yoshiki’s appearance at Otakon, to them officially debuting at this past summer’s Chicago Lollapalooza. X Japan launched a North American Tour, that had them going from the West Coast, to Canada to Chicago and finally at their last stop in New York on October 10, 2010 at the Roseland Ballroom.
The previous night on October 11, 2010 was also VAMPS 2nd New York concert, where I saw Hyde of La Arc En Ciel for the very first time in concert. FYI, VAMPS is a new band that Hyde is part of, so there was unfortunately no anime song as of yet covered by VAMPS, but I am still as impressed as I was with Hyde. I am guessing if anyone seen my rapid Tweeting, you can see what I was thinking more of… mostly on the various reactions I saw of Hyde. Also there was really cool guitar swinging and head swinging action by K.A.Z.
I was not as familiar with VAMPS music as I was with X Japan’s music, so I really can’t comment on it per se. One thing I can comment on, was how there was actual space to move and breath at Saturday’s concert. But fast forward to the next night.. it was a completely different story all together….
Both concerts were on the Saturday and Sunday of NYAF/NYCC 2010. This was a concert filled weekend, that probably had music fans like me gasping out “why oh god why.” Mainly, because I was also also attending the NYAF/NYCC as well. GendoMike, and some other friends can attest to the stress I was feeling last weekend. Prior to the convention, I had already given up going to go see VAMPS in concert, since I knew what a very packed weekend the convention promised to be. But at the very last minute, I was notified that I won concert tickets to see VAMPS. I was at my wits end, thinking about what to do. So I was even contemplating on skipping VAMPS, until a friend pulled me aside and told me to definitely go. I went and certainly enjoyed myself. Hyde was fantastic to look at in person.
Just so many music opportunities to either hit or miss this past weekend. Starcreator, and other friends I know were at Irving Plaza watching Puffy Ami Yumi, Boom Boom Satellites and other acts that were part of the Far East to East Showcase.
Back… back to X Japan Concert though!!!! This is a highly memorable concert experience. Once I heard that they were going to come to New York, for a concert, I literally had my eyes set on news of when to purchase tickets were available. I do believe the venue was sold out. From my cousin’s experiences to the band’s first stop in California, and the continual live tweeting/blog reports from JRockRevolution.com. I was definitely ready to be as what Yoshiki said, “X-ed!”
New York City is definitely a city of many events, and opportunities. However, other than seiyuu, mangaka, or Japanese singers appearances, there is rare opportunity for me to enjoy seeing an actual Japanese concert appearances. To have two rock concert experiences of this nature is like mana from heavens above.
Now back to Saturday night… first thing I got to say, was that right after I came out from the VAMPS concert. I saw the line for the X Japan concert, and learned that some hardcore X Japan fans were waiting since Thursday, which was around the time I picked up my badge for NYCC/NYAF. I quickly took a very short video of the line on Saturday, and uploaded it on Youtube. A friend of mine in Tokyo, told me that her friends were already waiting on line, so I knew some line tidbits. The line was filled with fans of several nationalities, as I tweeted I heard Spanish, Chinese, English, Korean.
By the time Sunday rolled around, the line eventually went to wrap around the city block twice. On that time.. I was walking to the line with another friend at 5:52pm, and we were waiting on the line at 6:04pm. Thankfully at that time, I was only on the second corner slightly, so I was waiting mostly on Broadway, and West 53rd. The Ballroom is on West 52nd. Yoshiki as my other concert going friend told me, loved his fans, so he treated fans to hot chocolate and pizza!
During the concert,I stood on the stage left, and was eventually pushed over to around stage center of the room, there were at least probably 7-8 people that stood before me though. Let me say that for a majority of the concert, I really really hated taller people. They blocked all great views of the stage, so I definitely was watching parts of the concert from between the shoulders of many. Still the excitement of just being in the same room as X Japan! I can remember how I heard music, the excitement and energy of the crowd.. and how my arms and legs were so sore from when the concert started to the end.I didn’t even realize that Yoshiki threw himself off the stage, for a bit of crowd surfing until my friend told me after the concert.
It was all quite scary for some parts, for the crush of people was quite immense and overwhelming. At moments I felt very claustrophobic. I have never experienced a mosh pit like this, parts of it felt like a living roller coaster, trying to keep my balance and not fall. There were times of not being able to breath or even be able to move – due to how much people were crammed in one space. Everyone was fighting to get to the front, I actually saw someone faint, and later I read that people who fainted were brought over to the side. When there was a pause between songs or the crush was particularly overwhelming I heard Japanese fans asking if everyone were all right.
I definitely saw people around me filming the concert with their cameras. I was sadly mistaken when I mention I’ll try to actively tweet, or take much pictures, since the crush of people was that extreme. I feared for my main camera, but I still had my Droid camera, which was running out of battery. I did get some decent cell phone shots though.
At some points during the concert, I noticed that Toshi was trying to prompt the crowd to sing lyrics after him, but I believe everyone was a bit too excited. I definitely knew that I cried when “Endless Rain” was sung, since it is my favorite X Japan song. There was a lot of fans who sang the chorus:
Endless rain, fall on my heart 心の傷い
Let me forget all of the hate, all of the sadness
One really memorable fact, on 10-10-10 was vocalist, Toshi’s 45th birthday, so prior to the show, fans on line were asked to throw confetti, onto the stage and sing “Happy Birthday.” The area where I was, was literally peppered with confetti.
X Japan members are also like a a lot of rock groups, drinking, and spraying water into the overheated crowds. I was ecstatic when I caught the maybe first or second bottle to be thrown off the stage by Toshi. The bottle came flying , I held my hand up, and just caught it. When I told GendoMike about what I caught, he happened to mentioned about another incident with a bottle of water, in this case it was Chihara Minori’s bottle of water. But unlike that incident, that bottle of water is a souvenir on my bookshelf.
I definitely knew I lost my voice, I had limited speaking from the VAMPS concert the night before, it was further gone when it was the X Japan concert. I can’t imagine how many time I definitely shouted, either lyrics, “X” or “WE Are X.” As I also mention arms and legs were so very sore, just how many times I threw up my arms?
Still the memories of this concert will remain. I am actually waiting for the new CD that will be out next year. There are some talk on the net, not confirmed about X Japan having a Europe Tour, a second North America Concert Tour, and South America Tour. All this is quite exciting. One last note, actually pretty sad I wasn’t able to get a Concert T-Shirt.. now I can only be on the search for someone/somewhere to sell it. Also if you what to see more pictures from this concert, be sure to check out Anime Diet’s Flickr page.
X Japan’s New York Set List
-Violin and piano interlude-
Born to Be Free
On Friday of October 8, 2010. I was on a mission to get Chihara Minori’s autograph.. so as a favor for Anime Diet’s own Ray. Chihara is apparently a very very popular seiyuu, a featured guest in this year’s NYAF. In my experience of other than hearing her voice in Saki as the very attractive Tōka Ryūmonbuchi, of which I had nothing official for her to sign, from that desperately second season needed anime. I decided very early on, that there are way too many other things to do while at the convention, and too many other seiyuus to fangirl for. I had to not display an interest, but fan boys totally go gaga overher, so here we go.
Prior to the convention, there was an announcement of three opportunities for autographs.. two are waiting on a line, and the other was to be the first 100 buyers at the Bandai Booth. Now even with the VIP Chihara Experience package, that was quickly sold out at $150 for 200 fans. There was no guarantee autograph ticket, so one must “fight” then for the right to get her John Hancock.
With my experience of getting various con autographs.. I didn’t want to chance it, and the early bird gets the worm. I definitely needed to get there early. So, I started at the crack of dawn, woke up at around 5:00-ish after slapping the alarm clock twice. Got on the subway..and started my trek. I thought that Moy as being one of the earliest if not hardcore fanboys. He was at Jacob Javits around 4:30.. He did it twice again.. for Saturday.. so I know that he got four autographed tickets by the end of NYAF this year.
I was definitely happy with my one ticket. I also did have another ticket, from the Bandai booth, when I went off to purchase an official licensed good for Chihara to sign. Gave that to Starcreator. It was really strange, that there was absolutely no cds of Minorin in the Exhibition Room , that even Kinokuniya didn’t even have any. So I ended up with an exclusive NYAF T-Shirt, comparing with a choice between a DVD set of hers. Figure the T-shirt will be darn more special.
Since the autograph signing was in the middle of the late afternoon when I had panels, I requested my sister, and Eric M. Chu to go and get the autograph/photograph specifically. The shirt was definitely autographed, but unfortunately, there was no photo, because there was way too many fans, and it would take way too long for Chihara to sign. There is also an image of the back of the shirt on Anime Diet’s Flickr, so take a peek there if you’re interested.
Very very different from last year’s event, this year New York Anime Festival did its pre-con event at Kinokuniya Bookstore. A more subtle event. This event definitely added more fuel to the fires of many convention goers, panelists and press members alike. (I can only say that I am at this time still scheduling. I am probably going to put the kettle down, but Moritheil will not be at NYAF this year. So you’ll see coverage from me. That’s not too in your face is it? Moritheil will be sorely missed, as bloggers this year is hopefully going to do a more turn out on being a more united group outside of the convention.)
So my journey goes from the first floor past the clock and past a VAMPS sign, and then past this screen – up onto the escalator. My aim is the second floor, where the anime/manga/events/Cafe Zaiya section is. Kinokuniya a large Japanese chain bookstore, that a store in New York. So I have been a customer/fan for the store for many many years…. back when Ranma 1/2 was starting to get dubbed by Viz. But what the heck am I am I going on a tangent like that for?
The purpose of today’s Pre-event was to unveil John Arzayus aka otakudenDotCom on Twitter. He is an anime figure photographer, and some samples of his work is on display next to the steps. So if you are in New York at around this time, check out those photos. First time, other than the some other pretty interesting pictures, and the finalists for NYAF did I see figure photography displayed on the walls. [As a amateur figure photographer among a lot of hats. I am flashing a mental thumbs up at that!]
What else occurred at the event.. there was an actual “food buffet” spread, and that was the first time I have ever seen Kinokuniya providing free food like this, when there is Cafe Zaiya on the premises. I got the indication that it was an experiment, so it probably worked.. since nothing drives an event like free food!
There were teaser performances from both ichiP! (Dance troupe) and Mario Bueno. (Cosplay performer). They will be appearing as guest of NYAF’s long list.
After the Photography and Figure collecting 101 presentation from Otakuden was done, GeekNights‘s Rym and Scott came on, with tips on con survival. They are calling NYAF and NYCC as a mega con, and definitely it is. With so many names, events, panels, so many conflicts at the same bloody time.. let’s just hope with fingers crossed that I won’t get what is known as con exhaustion… that I will be able to cover all the panels I need to go to…. from one end of the convention center to the other.. Jacob Javits is not even as big as Baltimore Convention Center. >_<…
Oh, X Japan’s concert is next weekend, as with VAMPS, as with Puffy AmiYumi…. as with Minori Chihara appearing. There was a raffle at the end, with Chiara’s autograph ticket up for grabs, that I oh so wanted to get.. but poor luck and timing.. hence I lost out.
More images from this event is available on Anime Diet’s Flickr page. More images is also forthcoming..
As a second pre-con event for NYAF/NYCC, New York City is going to be bracing itself for 40,000+ fans to descend on one convention center…. and the madness starts in about four days.