Tag Archives: sdcc 2008

Conventional Wisdom: A Reflection on Congoing (Part 2)

An official, Publishers Weekly photo of Tite Kubo: the sort we weren't allowed to take.

To be fan and press is something of a liminal experience.

Like, I remember our first San Diego Comic Con in 2008. The main reason we were there in the first place was because Tite Kubo, the mangaka of Bleach, was attending and holding both a fan panel and a signing. We managed to snag no less than 4 press passes—keep in mind this was only the third time we’d ever gotten them at all—and the team was united on that singular goal of getting as much Kuboness as we could.

The plan was simple, albeit demanding. There were 4 panels preceding the Kubo one. An advance team of two would stake out and claim center front row seats at the first panel of the day, and do their best to hold the surrounding seats open as the panels changed hands. Coordination would be handled via text messaging. By the time I arrived one panel before Kubo’s, four team members had already arrived, and there was an empty seat waiting for me. We patiently endured an entire presentation about various Transformers toys and bearded men asking questions about whether an obscure model from the 1980s was about to make a comeback. A glance at the crowd behind, however, revealed through their Soul Society uniforms and their multi-colored hair that half of them were certainly not there to hear about robots in disguise.

At last, the Kubo panel was about to begin. We were told in no uncertain terms that there was to be no photography, video, or recording of any kind. Even for press. Murmurs swept through the front rows, which were filled with more than few other press representatives. Switches flicked off of cameras that had been armed and ready for shooting. Japanese guests are like that sometimes, and we were used to those kinds of restrictions at anime conventions.

Nevertheless, we were bloggers and we were wired. I calmly took out my laptop as the cheers for Kubo, arriving in shades and a white jacket, came out like a rock star. I began liveblogging the moment the panel began. Just plain old text. One of our staff members put in a question in the hat to be asked, and lo and behold, it was asked. I noted this in the blog in bold letters.

Later that night we found out the site’s server was down. Quick traces revealed that the liveblog had been linked to from Bleach fan forums across the Internet, and they had brought our shared hosting to its knees.

You know I take my job seriously because I'm the only one not smiling. (I keed, I keed!)

There’s been a debate, mainly in the political side of the blogosphere, over whether bloggers are really journalists. A stereotype quickly arose of a blogger being a person typing in his pajamas, sucking off the work of real journalists with his inane commentary while somehow getting unearned legitimacy off of it.

This stereotype doesn’t seem to apply as much to fan press covering entertainment-oriented conventions, though. A lot of fan/online/blog sites with press passes serve a much more documentary than editorial role in these events. Since our very first passes to Pacific Media Expo in 2007, we’ve used our access primarily to do interviews, take panel and concert footage, and provide transcripts of things whenever possible. This makes sense given how global our readership is and how the majority of our readers can’t be at the convention with us; it serves a purpose.

What I found interesting about the experience at that Kubo panel, however, was that while being press earned us the valuable privilege of simply being able to attend the convention for free, there was still plenty of fan-like work to do, like staking out seats far in advance and having to subject questions in the lottery. Nor was press allowed to take any footage. This was in distinct contrast to the rest of the convention, where anyone could shoot video of Samuel L. Jackson and other Western celebrities. To be fan press was thus a kind of in-between experience: we weren’t treated like a member of the major mainstream media, but we weren’t quite ordinary attendees either. Our purposes were not just to bask in an idol’s presence, but we had put in the kind of effort someone who wanted just that would have to do.

Is this a fair balance? In a way, we are beneficiaries of a recent dilution of the meaning of “press”: now you don’t have to go to journalism school and work for a newspaper or a magazine in print or TV, to be considered a reporter. You just business cards, a site, and some hits. Some might argue that this is a bad thing, a “cult of the amateur” that sacrifices quality for exposure and gives regular schmoes like me unearned privileges. But I think the difference between amateur and professional is in attitude and result, not in pedigree. My goal at Anime Diet is to be as professional as possible, and to treat the work before me as seriously as I do any other work. I don’t always reach that goal—witness one of my first junket interviews, and cringe with me at its awkwardness!—but it’s always the aim. I was raised with a belief that with rights come responsibilities, and I treat press as a privilege whose responsibility is to act like it’s true: that we are on level, if not better, than entertainment reporters from US Weekly and People who might only come to these places to gawk and mock those weird freaks in costumes. We may be press, but we would always know this scene better than them, because these were our people. We are, still, those freaks.

Pic taken while waiting in line for Hirano Aya autograph, AX 2007.

The last time I rewatched my video diaries from 2007, I felt a pang of nostalgia. They were shot without a press badge, but they contained as much if not more on-the-ground reporting as anything we’ve done since. There was a purity to their fan’s-eye view of a botched convention, capturing raw emotions, glitches, and miscommunication all around. Sometimes I wonder whether I should even voluntarily give up press one year and try to replicate the innocence of that experience of waiting in line, of talking and interviewing your line mates, and even the disappointment of being on the short end of the stick. It’d be a break from hopping from interview to press conference to main event, in the eternal chase for footage and pictures and coverage.

Then I realize how foolish nostalgia can be sometimes. 2007’s video diaries worked because they were both accidental and virginal: accidental in its capturing of mishaps and thus becoming a sarcastic expose (one that apparently made the rounds among anime con staff circles), and virginal in that it was the first time I’d ever tried making any serious videos. There’s no way to repeat that experience ever again, and it’d be stupid to try. It’s been 4 years and many cons since then. Our privileges and responsibilities have grown, and I wouldn’t trade them for some hazy, romanticized experience. There’s nothing particularly romantic about waiting in lines to nowhere for hours. And you will never, ever, see my face in a video that badly lit and pockmarked and ugly again!

But next time, I’m going to try to make a video diary again. We’ll do the interviews of guests and all the other stuff we always do—but maybe I’ll leave more of that in the hands of equally, if not more, capable staff. I’ll take my camera and my microphone, stand up, walk around, and start asking that guy dressed as a tentacle monster just how long it took him to finish that costume and whether I should get a judge to issue a restraining order on him. And then say a few words into the mic myself, before moving on to the cute Yoko cosplayer who’s standing next to a bare-chested Kamina, preening on the top of the steps, waiting for someone to give them a little publicity.

A Personal Reflection: AX, Comic-Con, and What We’re Here For


I wrote this on the train home from San Diego, at the conclusion of Comic-Con 2009. For me, this is the end of the con season; I don’t anticipate going to New York Anime Festival this year and it’s up in the air if I will return to Pacific Media Expo. Before I flood y’all with videos, I’d like to take stock of what the last month or so has been like for me as editor of Anime Diet, and as an avid con-going fan of anime.

To put it briefly: Anime Expo 2009 was more about work, and Comic Con was more about fun.

Note: this is not really a review of the conventions as conventions, of which there is plenty to talk about out separately. You can find out more about that in the forthcoming videos. This is more about what the cons felt like subjectively.

Continue reading A Personal Reflection: AX, Comic-Con, and What We’re Here For

Comic Con: Some Rambling Final Thoughts

Sign of the times.
Sign of the times.

I remember after last year’s Anime Expo hearing that, by comparison, the well-run Comic Con was a paradise compared to AX: the lines weren’t nearly as long, there were far more people but it didn’t descend into chaos, and they had professional staff running the whole show. I asked myself, wouldn’t it be nice if one day we could go and cover it, too? Finally, this year, Anime Diet had the chance to do just that.

Continue reading Comic Con: Some Rambling Final Thoughts

Comic Con Video Diary – Day 1: Starring Stan Lee and Samuel L. Jackson

Well, tiredness, bad Internet connections in San Diego, and life got a little in the way–but here’s the Day 1 video diary for this year’s Comic Con! Days 2 and 3 should be ready tomorrow. This episode is notable for having some big names in the video, namely Stan Lee and Samuel L. Jackson for Afro Samurai! (Which IS a real anime–it was conceived and written by a Japanese person, Takashi Okazaki, and animated by Gonzo. Plus, I reviewed the first episode long ago.) Comic Con, in general, has much more liberal film and photography rules–this sort of thing would not be possible for equivalent Japanese guests at AX or at Comic Con either (witness our lack of footage for Tite Kubo).

Incidentally–Paul screened this before I published this so hopefully, no hard feelings. :) He was a really cool guy to hang out with.

Days 2 and 3 will feature a lot more of the usual fan interviews. But this is the celebrity footage edition. Only from Anime Diet. :)

Comic Con: Tite Kubo (Bleach) Panel Liveblog

No video or photos were allowed. I guess this is the way Japanese guests are usually handled–it’s like AX. Starting in about 5 minutes.

1:15 PM – Kubo has entered the stage in sunglasses. Looks like a pop star or something.

1:16 PM – Kubo presented with an award from Comic Con Int’l. From the cheers I can tell the audience just got much younger than from the preceding Transformers panel.

1:19 PM – 10 kids from Japan are here, Shounen Jump essay winners. Also, we will be getting limited edition posters as we leave.

1:20 PM – “I am very glad to see you all, thank you very much” –Kubo

1:22 PM – Kubo thinks this is “immensely huge” compared to Japanese events. First impressions of being in America: he had to get his passport for this. Strong sunlight makes everything colorful here.

1:25 PM – Has Kubo done any drawing in his time here? (He has to produce 19 pages a week, after all.) He actually worked ahead of time so he could home here. Not a procrastinator (unlike me).

1:26 PM – Footage of his workspace. World exclusive. There are desks for his assistants as well, a big screen TV. Pictures of his chairs and metal suitcase he bought to come ovr here. A miniature TV just as decoration. A rare Bleach watch. Oddly enough, Bobobobo in some background art; he had asked a sketch/autograph exchange. The man has a vast CD collection, too (1200-1300 on a shelf; others stacked up). Picture of a kitchen, which is clean because they never cook!

1:32 PM – Upstairs: Kubo’s actual work area. Footage of him working with a ton of markers next to him. He’s coloring. HIs work chair was chosen based on design and he drew Aizen’s chair like it. Handing manuscripts and fan letters to his editor.

1:35 PM – Video portion over. Now questions from audience.

1:35 PMWhat inspired him to become a manga artist? Decided when he was in elementary school. He became interested in architecture and design after he had already become a manga artist.

1:37 PM Inspriation for Bleach: inspired by the image of Soul Reapers in kimonos. Wanted to draw something no one had seen before.

1:38 PM – Kubo puts character, not plot, first.

1:39 PM – What inspired him to put Spanish/Mexican culture in Bleach? Nothing intentional with the character Chad. However, he just sensed he had a Mexican heritage. Someone in audience shouts “Viva La Raza!”

1:40 PMWhere does he come up with the opening drawings? He puts characters in clothes he can’t get.

1:40 PMAdvice for aspiring manga artists: Seems stumped…”believe in your talent.” Do something you yourself must enjoy; otherwise it’s dishonest to charge someone for your story.

1:42 PMHow did Quincy and its name come about (JEREMY’S QUESTION!): “I created Uryu to be Ichigo’s rival character, so, for that, I put him in white clothing.” He uses arrows because it’s long range, and it will be difficult for Ichigo to fight him. The Quincys’ name is from his five point star; in Japan this is a symbol. If you call every archer a “Quincy Archer” it sounds like a person’s name, so he liked it.

1:45 PMHow do you draw action scenes? Plays rock music in his head as he draws it. He pauses the action and try to swing around in 3D mentally to find the best angle.

1:46 PMWhen did he realize he had such a big fanbase in the US? Yesterday!

1:47 PM – Pancha Diaz, Viz editor asks: What part of the process does he enjoy the most? When thinking of the story, if it’s something he’s been waiting to do for a while, he enjoys it very much. Usually has a scene rundown of things to draw in his head. Connecting scenes are a bit harder. Inking is also enjoyable for him.

1:49 PM – Pancha Diaz again: How long between drawing and publication? Between 2-3 weeks. Diaz, by contrast notes, has to do 6 months in advance.

1:50 PMWill there be an Isshin backstory? Yes! He knew from the start he was a Soul Reaper.

1:51 PM – Three minutes left. Is the Kon doll inspired by something from his childhood? Wanted to create something fake looking, where you put random things together–like a sewing line in the middle of the face. Backstory: a father bought a cheap stuffed animal for his child, and the child threw it away because it was ugly–that’s why he is on the street.

1:54 PMIdea for Hell Butterflies: Looked up in a dictionary for word that goes well with “Soul Reaper.” It is a kind of butterfly that is another name for a real butterfly species. Prefers to fly in the dark, and it fits well with the Soul Reapers. End of panel.

Comic Con: Viz Industry Panel Liveblog

3:06 PM – Introduction, sweepstakes introduction

3:08 PM – Information about Bleach Day and the screening of Bleach movie, Kubo appearances. I will be going to the afternoon signing at 3:30-4:30 PM.

3:10 PMSlam Dunk related events. Apparently Greg Oden, NBA star, will be helping promote it.

3:12 PM – Info about the Portfolio Review; Viz is making a venture into original comics publications. All kinds welcome, not necessarily manga-style. First to appear in their magazine Shojo Beat.

3:15 PM – Anime news: Blue Dragon, Vol 1 release (Sept. 16, 2008). Followed by a technical glitch. (Nothing new here for industry panels I’ve seen….)

3:18 PM – Naruto Movie 2, released July 29, 2008. To include the Japanese movie program booklet. (They should do that for all movies.)

3:19 PM – Naruto Movie 3, November 11th.

3:20 PM – Bleach Movie, Oct 14th.

3:20 PM – Buso Renkin Box Set, Vol. 2

3:21 PM – InuYasha Season 6 Box Set

3:21 PM – Hunter x Hunter, Vol. 1 (Dec 2008)

3:22 PM – Death Note Box Set Vol. 1 (episodes 1-20; Nov 18). Will include fancy box.

3:23 PM – Moving on to manga news. Shounen Jump 5th anniversary collector’s edition of Issue 1 (American).

3:24 PM – Shounen Jump Box Sets. We covered much of this info in the Viz Panel at AX 2008. New Info: Kubo brought some exclusive HD footage of his office and his home. :)

3:25 PM – Pokemon kids’ releases.

3:27 PM – Naruto “chapter books” (ie prose for children). This is a format created for the American audience.

3:27 PM – Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time manga. To be released in October.

3:28 PM – Spring 09 releases: BakeGyamon, Happy Happy Clover, Dinosaur Hour!, Leave it to PET! (a recycling adventure)

3:30 PM – Shojo Beat announcements: Fushigi Yugi 3-in-1 volume, Hot Gimmick 3-in-1, Heaven’s Will (Jan 2009), Magic Touch–a manga about massage (Jan 12 09), Otomen (notice the pun?, Jan 12 09–the guy IS straight though), Honey Hunt (Mar 16, 2009)

3:33 PM – Viz has permission to show Vampire Knight clips–but they have NOT licensed it.

3:34 PM – Rumiko Takahashi’s One Pound Gospel

3:34 PM – Black Lagoon manga (Aug 2008)

3:35 PM – Gestalt, Jun 2009. Sexy elves! Sexy, sexy elves

3:36 PM – Dogs, Volume 0. Dystopian. Apr 2009. Guns, swords, and action

3:36 PM – Ikigami (Death Paper): May 2009. Interesting premise.

3:37 PM – Viz Signature line: for more “sophisticated” type of stories. My guess is that this is aimed at adults and a bit more literary? Example: Real, by Takehiko Inoue (Slam Dunk). Also Vagabond by the same author.

3:40 PM – Inoue’s artbooks

3:41 PMSolanin, by Asano Inio. Contemporary fiction. Oishinbo, the food manga that explains Japanese food.

3:44 PM20th Century Boys clip/preview. To be released in Feb 2009. “Rock and roll realism.”

3:48 PM – Another Naoki Urusawa project, Pluto, based on Tezuka’s Astro Boy. A reimagining of a story by Tezuka in Astro Boy.

3:51 PM – Only time for ONE question, from a manga newbie, about the lag time between publishing in Japan and publishing in the US. Usual answer: translation issues, distribution issues.

3:53 PM – End.

Comic Con Video Diary, Day 0 (Preview Night): More Than Zero

It’s the first day of Comic Con for press and 4-day-pass holders–not for anyone else! And really, the “Day 0” moniker does not at all apply–you’ll see how crowded the Exhibit Hall is, and how long I had to wait in line just to get a press badge. This calvacade of a convention has already started, really…preview night was intended to give a few people a look at the hall before the crowds showed up. And all I have to say is: if this isn’t a crowd, what is??

Enjoy the video. I’m going to try to post one every night.

Anime Diet Goes to Comic-Con: Tentative Schedule

I've got my eye on you, Comic Con
I've got my eye on you, Comic Con

This year, for the first time ever, Anime Diet is going to go to San Diego Comic Con–the biggest convention of any pop culture kind in America! From all the bombardments of email that I and the other press members of our humble site are receiving, it is definitely on a totally different scale than even Anime Expo. For one, the vast majority of the events going on don’t have much or anything to do with anime, and plus, there are many, many more tons of events than any one organization can cover. So we have to be selective about what we attend.

But with that in mind, here are the list of things that Anime Diet officially intends to cover. The three of us who are going (Jeremy, Matt, and myself) also plan to go to other events for various sci-fi things that we are interested in as individuals. But this is what the website will officially be doing and will appear as liveblogs, posts, and (of course) videos.

Thursday (July 24)

  • Afro Samurai Resurrection Panel (Room 6B, 4:15PM-5:15PM): I’m not really a fan of Afro Samurai. I gave it a rather mediocre review, for one. The only reason I’m even considering coming to this one is because Samuel L. Muthaf%!#@$% Jackson is actually going to be present! I suspect, however, we may not be able to get in the door, and probably not going to be taking any video. Which, if that’s the case, I’ll just head on over to the
  • Bandai Panel (Room 4, 5PM-6PM): this year’s AX Bandai Panel had only one licensing announcement for Hayate no Gotoku. Will they announce anything else this time? After all, Funimation isn’t here to spoil the party like at AX…

Friday (July 25)

  • Viz Panel (Room 2, 3PM-4PM): this is the main Viz panel, where licensing announcements and such happen. This, of course, is going to be overshadowed by

Saturday (July 26)

  • Tite Kubo Panel (Room 7AB, 1PM-2PM): We are at Comic Con mainly because of this man, the creator of Bleach. Unfortunately, we are not going to be able to get a private interview as the slots filled up extremely quickly. However, we can at least try to get a question and signing in sometime during the week of the con. But we will definitely be liveblogging this at least, if not posting videos and pictures (depends on policy).
  • Masquerade (Ballroom 20, 8:30PM-11:30PM): Let’s see how this masquerade is run compared to anime cons. Especially since this year’s AX one was so short.

I will be trying to get signing tickets early for the Tite Kubo signings as well, which are taking place twice during the con, in which only 100 people get a signature. It will help make up for a lack of an interview.

I will also be trying my best to put out the video diaries on the same day, if at all possible. My extreme weariness prevented me from doing the same at AX, and it cost us a lot of viewers as a result. I’ll try not to make the same mistake again. I will also try not just to interview anime/manga cosplayers, but some of the other nerds dressed up in other franchises too. We are all united, in the end, by our geek culture!

Anyways, I will be heading to San Diego on Wednesday to pick up my press badge and get a nose in for Preview Night–and then the festivities begin on Thursday. Stay tuned!