Monday, September 29, 2008

NYAF 2008 in review

Now that I'm back to the daily grind (or perhaps because I'm not in the mood to do work), I'll talk about my experience at New York Anime Festival (NYAF).

I got there a bit late on Friday, catching the last 30 minutes of the Bandai panel. You can read about the announcements at ANN, but I was actually kind of disappointed they didn't announce more stuff on Blu-ray (like The Girl Who Lept Through Time). I stayed a bit for Funimation's panel (see the ANN for a review of the announcements). I think there were a couple bloggers in the front row live-blogging the event. The Funimation guy was a lot cooler than the Bandai guys. I wandered around the Dealer's room for a bit, then got tired and went over to the Claymore panel, where they showed the first dubbed episode of the series. I left after that to eat and watch the first presidential debate.

Cosplays from Friday:
From NYAF 2008
From NYAF 2008
From NYAF 2008

The only thing I cared about seeing was Rie Tanaka at the Masquerade. I got there in the mid-afternoon, walked around the dealer's room again, and sat in a few panels to kill time. I started lining up for the Masquerade around 6, an hour before it was to start. This is the line that greeted me:
From NYAF 2008
Anyway, I saw Rie Tanaka sing, and it was awesome. I stayed for the rest of the masquerade, where there was an actual, real marriage proposal! (The cosplayers were dressed up as Rock Lee and his teacher, whoever that was, and Rock Lee started on his lines about the dude, and then got on his knees and busted out the ring.)

Cosplays from Saturday:
From NYAF 2008
From NYAF 2008
From NYAF 2008
From NYAF 2008
From NYAF 2008
From NYAF 2008
From NYAF 2008
From NYAF 2008

I got my ass up at 8am, waited for the damn PATH train for 15 minutes, and got to the convention center at around 10am. I went into the opening line that snaked through the second floor, missed getting an autograph ticket, then went to the Rie Tanka panel. I was probably around the 60th person in line or so, and this was the line behind me:
From NYAF 2008
Around 10:45am they started letting people in, and they had somebody directing people where to sit to make sure there weren't any gaps. It turns out that about the last 4 or 5 rows were empty at the start of the panel, though those mostly filled in as the panel went on. The panel was mostly just Q&A, with the usual assortment of voices and typical seiyu questions. Some random fans gave her toys!
From NYAF 2008
(Random note: that picture was taken from probably about 30 ft away, and I have a regular P&S digital cam! Go Fuji F30!). She did sing about a minute of a song though, without music, and my friends, she is the real deal. I'd buy a CD full of her singing a capella. There was a rock-paper-scissors tournament at the end, and I lost after the second round :(. So somewhat dejected for lack of an autograph ticket, I wandered around for a bit and left shortly after.

Comments on the con itself
I'm a bit bitter at not getting an autograph from Rie -- I'm not too bothered by the VIP pass thing, but I thought NYAF should have had at least 2 sessions for her. In the end, it's only an autograph, I guess... I keep telling myself that at least. I had no problems getting Morio Asaka's or Noto Mamiko's autographs at Otakon 2007, for example, mostly because they had multiple autograph sessions.

Line management could also have been better. The line for the masquarade was ridiculously long, and they let the 2nd line in before the 1st line (worked well for me because I was in the 2nd line, but not very fair nonetheless). I kind of like the idea I saw at Otakon for tape lines on the floor indicating where to queue up; there were no signs for the end of the masquerade line, and they moved parts of the line multiple times.

Programming seemed a bit sparse at times; there were a few times I had nothing to do while waiting between panels I wanted to see, and going through the dealer's room gets boring after the 3rd or 4th time. Otakon had many more options (though they didn't have Rie Tanaka).

Overall, I accomplished my goal of seeing Rie Tanaka. Next time though, I may actually shell out the $$$ for a VIP ticket, even though it rubs me the wrong way...

Friday, September 5, 2008

Anime rentals -- Blockbuster availability

Renting anime is pretty useful for checking out series you're not sure about, or watching series you want to see but don't want to own. There's two big mail rental companies -- Netflix and Blockbuster. My friend already has Netflix, and as they're going to be charging extra for Blu-ray, I figured I'd give Blockbuster a shot.
So let's look at anime availability.
  • Mushishi vol. 1 - Available, and I received it. Rather poor condition however, it gives my DVD player problems
  • Ghost in the Shell: Solid state society - Very long wait (i.e. months)
  • Tekkon Kinkreet (blu-ray) - Available
  • Appleseed: Ex Machina (blu-ray) - Short wait (seems to mean a few days wait)
  • Utawarerumono vol. 3 - Long wait (weeks)
  • Fantastic Children vol. 1 - Very long wait
  • Rozen Maiden vol. 1 - Very long wait
  • Azumanga Daioh vol. 1 - Long wait
  • Shana vol. 1 - Available
  • Shuffle vol. 1 - Unavailable (this means they don't have ANY!)
  • Zegapain vol. 1 - Unavailable
  • Howl's Moving Castle - Available
  • Full Moon vol. 1 - Unavailable
  • Kaleido Star vol. 1 - Available
  • Outlaw Star vol. 2 - Unavailable
  • Emma - not even able to add to queue
So far it seems that Blockbuster isn't too great for anime selection. I may keep it around for blu-rays and get the cheap netflix account for the rest of the anime I want...