Saturday was a day with much shiny. Due to some insane inability to read on our part, we thought it was going to be the day Gonzo had a Romeo x Juliet day, and for some reason I thought it would be appropriate to be Eisen and Yasuaki from HaruToki for that. So we put on the millions of layers and set out. But first, we went to the... what did they call that? It was like the "Keynote Speaker Panel" or something for that day, which was entitled Manga Mania, and our editor from CMX specifically told us he'd be there, so we figured we'd stop by.
The keynote speaker wasn't feeling well, so we still don't know what exactly the keynote speaker thing was, but the panel was very interesting. They had representatives from Go! Comi, CMX, Yaoi Press, Infinity Studios, and Digital Manga, and there was another guy who I think used to/still works for Viz and has written a bunch of books about manga. There was a time I thought I was better at remembering names, but more and more I'm realizing I'm better at remembering faces. I wonder if the discussion would have gone differently if they'd had representatives from Viz and/or TokyoPop. They closed the panel off to non industry/press people, but since the press was allowed, I figure I'm allowed to talk about it.
The main things Athena learned are that scanslations help rather than hinder the market (although she still doesn't like them and won't read them herself) and that slash existed in America as early as 1974 with Captain Kirk and Dr. Spock. Most of the discussion seemed to focus on the market, and it started out with the question of whether or not it's really saturated. The idea of the manga market being saturated sounded like something ADV made up as an excuse for not doing very well in it from the moment we heard it, so we were glad that all the representatives present debunked that myth. The problem is not so much that the market is saturated as that there's a bazillion potential customers out there who haven't realized they like manga yet. So the different companies all have different strategies for expanding the market, like donating posters to libraries, trying to get more "mainstream" titles to appeal to people who aren't already obsessed, and letting the fans do all the advertising by talking about things and translating stuff on the Internet.
There was also talk about global manga, or whatever you want to call it (Go! Comi calls it "manga-I" or "manga inspired comics," which we really like the best). It seems like the general consensus there is that all the companies will do it eventually, because it's a lot easier than getting the license for a series from Japan, and that while there seems to be an elitism among the fans saying "if it's not from Japan it's not real manga," the fans seem to be getting over themselves and manga-i will catch on and be more accepted.
After the panel, we figured we had some time to pop into the dealers' room, find Yen Press, and give them one of the business cards we finally remembered to carry around with us. (Convention badge holders are such handy devices.) We were thwarted in this endeavor by the vastness of the dealers' room, however. It was really weird--we just couldn't find the booth! It was like all those fairy tales and things where the guy comes across this magic house or shop or something in the woods or the city or somewhere, and then they try to go back there and it's vanished! Ooooooohhhhh!!! We even pulled out our directory, and they weren't listed! They weren't even listed on the insert with corrections and additions! Very strange. But then we wanted to go to the CMX panel, so we left.
As it turns out, we misremembered the time for the CMX panel and made it for the second half of the Go! Comi panel instead, which, once we got there, we remembered we had wanted to attend, so at least we got the second half. When we walked in, they were talking about their new web comic, Masque of the Red Death, which is by the creator of ElfQuest, who was also at the panel. It looked really interesting, but when I went to the website just now to check the spelling, it told me I have to be logged in to read the comic, and I don't want to deal with that right now. So anyway, they talked about another new title of theirs about saving the world from evil appliances or something? Which also seems pretty awesome and I find myself wishing we could find all these manga in Japanese before they had to go and translate them. Ah well.
There was a little bit of time between the Go! Comi panel and the CMX panel, so we wandered the halls, and that may or may not have been when we spotted a red mage from Final Fantasy XI hanging out with a Squall and got his picture for the Square-Enix lottery thingie thing. The CMX panel was pretty interesting--they seem to have a lot of interesting titles, too. (But I read their sampler later, and sometimes the characters talk funny.) Our editor pointed out that we were there when they talked about I Hate You More Than Anyone, but nobody seemed to care, alas.
After the panel, it was back to the dealers' room! This time we were determined to find the Yen Press booth! And to see if we could win another prize at the Square-Enix booth, since we now had two FF11 cosplay pics on our camera. We wandered around for a while and still weren't able to find the Yen Press booth, so we told ourselves we were not to be distracted by shiny anymore and we would go through aisle by aisle until we finally found it. And it was elusive, but we did indeed find it! Yay! And the guy remembered us from before! Yay! So we gave him a card and told him we've translated stuff like Fruits Basket and Saiyuki, and he said, "I think I have some work for you," and we're like, "Sweet!" And we're also like, "Is there someone we can contact?" because experience from last year (Viiiizzz! *shakes fist*) tells us that just because you hand someone a card doesn't mean they'll get back to you. So he gave us the card of the person in charge of freelancers, and we left, adding, "By the way, if your translator on Spiral ever wants to stop for any reason..." to which he responded, "I think you'd have to pry it out of her cold, dead hands." Darn it!! Oh well.
Moving on, we found the Square-Enix booth, which was pretty crowded, like it had been before. We showed the one girl the pictures we'd taken and got our ticket. Athena won FF11 for X-Box, so we decided I would be the one to turn the thingie this time. It stopped and... another yellow marble came out!! Aww, we already had FF11 for X-Box. But then! a pink marble came out, too!!!! And the girl handed us Final Fantasy XI for PC!!! Yay! Now we can play it!! But we weren't sure what the rules were, so we were a little worried we had gotten the game unfairly, but they seemed to kind of be rushing us off, so we rushed off. But first, we stopped by the trivia contest to see what the question would be, and I was very proud of myself for remembering who the first Esper you get in FF12 is. The group didn't have any idea, so I offered to be a summon, but they didn't go for it. They guessed Shiva, alas. Apparently none of them had even played FF12.
We continued to wander the dealers' room and came across the booth for someplace called Mad Gear, that sold new and used import video games. I really wish I could remember exactly how this encounter went, because it was pretty awesome. I remember the guy asking us if we knew what a certain tune was, which he then proceeded to play on his DS, and thinking, "I don't know what it is, but I'm sure I'll kick myself when I find out," and it was the Pokemon theme! Augh! So we kicked ourselves and then he asked if we liked music. And I'm like, "I like video game music..." because more and more lately I'm realizing that I know nothing of any music not related to some non-music-specific thing I already love. And he said, "So what's the best game ever?" And I was kind of dazed at the time, so I was like, "Uhhh..." I'm sure somewhere in my mind I knew he was going to tell us, but some part of me thought maybe he really wanted to know my opinion. Really not sure why that was.
But he then proceeded to introduce us to an out-of-print Japanese DS game called Daigassou (big ensemble) Band Brothers. It's a rhythm game where you can play video game music. He started out by showing us the Zelda medley, and then he asked, "Do you know the song Ready Steady Go?" And I was like, "!!!!" And he started playing it! And he was like, "And I don't have to play the guitar. If I want, I can play the drums." And he started playing the drums. I asked if it had download play...? Up to eight players! Does it have, like, Kingdom Hearts? No, but you can add it yourself. !!!! This game is too good to be true! He even showed us download play and how to add songs to prove he wasn't lying, and he said it came with a guarantee that if we didn't like it, we could kick him in the nuts. He said this guarantee was an especially good one, because it affects him personally. So we bought a copy and were very excited to play it, and hurried out of the dealers' room so as not to be tempted by the other myriads of shiny.
As we had been wandering around as Goku and Hakkai on Friday (I forgot to mention at some point we changed out of our Zorn and Thorn costumes), we ran into a Gojyo who told us that there would be a Saiyuki gathering at six on Saturday. Since we were invited, we figured we may as well go, so that was the next thing on our agenda. We changed into our Goku and Hakkai costumes again, and then we had a little time, so we played Band Brothers! And we sucked at it. But that's what happens when you're not used to a new game. But we got to see what songs are on it, and it has Melissa, Kirari Sailor Dream, and, I'm sure baranoneko and setra will appreciate, Sakuranbo. Our favorite one to play is the Zelda medley. It's just so Zelda-y good!
We arrived at the gathering early, and hung out with the same Gojyo who had told us about it until the rest of the cosplayers arrived. She found out we translate the manga and said she was impressed with how accurate our translations were. Her reasoning was that she would read text translations, and ours were closest to those. But this brings up a little hangup of ours, in that fans seem to think that the translation they saw first is the right one. But unless you know Japanese, there's no way you can really know that. Heck, if you've seen our own Saiyuki translations before the TokyoPop versions, there's a chance you've got some inaccuracies. (In fact, we happen to know we made a mistake in the little extra story at the end of Reload 8. Eheh) Fans are so silly sometimes.
The gathering... reiterated why we don't like going to gatherings. Nobody ever listens to our awesome photo ideas. We feel so invisible. But there was a kitty, so I guess it wasn't an entire bust. We also ran into Hazel from 2005, who was Ukoku Sanzo this year. We told her we sent a picture with her in it to Kazuya Minekura and were glad she wasn't upset. She asked us if we'd help fansub the "burial" OVA, but we're still not sure how we feel about fansubbing OVAs, since you have to buy them in Japan, unlike with TV shows that you can watch on TV. She hasn't contacted us yet, though, so we still have time to decide.
Also at the gathering was a group of four girls who stole our Chick Sanzo Ikkou idea! We console ourselves by telling ourselves that our designs were much cuter, which I still think they are. Plus they kept in mind the characters' original costumes and personalities better.
After the gathering, it was back to the hotel room to change into our Risa and Riku costumes for The Meet the Guests Reception: Where Fangirl Delusions Are Born.
While looking for the reception, there was an amusing encounter with a group of Naruto cosplayers who were staying at the Hyatt. The reception was at the Hyatt's Rainbow Pavilion, which we sort of remembered from AX01 and AX02, but we didn't quite remember how to get there. We asked the Naruto cosplayers, because they were sitting around the area we remembered waiting in line at one year, and they said we had to go all the way around like everything. It was a long walk, trust us. At that point, Athena noticed another door that led right to it (it even said "Rainbow Pavilion" on it), and as we headed out, Tsunade cursed at us, but in a friendly way.
As we waited in line for the reception to start, we saw an adorable little girl dressed as Kourin from Saiunkoku Monogatari, and as we took her picture, another girl dressed as Tenma from HaruToki came up and took her picture as well. I didn't even notice her until Athena pointed her out to me, and we started talking and found out she had a Yorihisa with her. We said we had been Eisen and Yasuaki earlier. We tend to have bad timing for meeting fellow cosplayers from a series--it was Sunday that we ran into the guy dressed as Kuja. (You heard me. It was a man dressed as Kuja.) We were all very sad that we weren't HaruToki characters together, and one of them mentioned that it was also too bad their other friends couldn't be there--one cosplays as Inori and Hinoe, and the other as Akram. And we're like, "Dude! That's baranoneko and setra! We know them!!" And then we told each other our LJ names and I immediately forgot them. Sorry!! We started making plans for us to have a mini HaruToki gathering, but then we decided we'd best be in our places in line.
They let us into the reception before the guests got there, which was weird because in our eight years at AX we can't remember them ever doing that. We were a little disappointed to see that none of the voice actresses would be at the reception (the SOS Brigade was still doing their concert stuff, and Halko Momoi was getting ready for her secret concert for AX Idol), so we were at a loss as to where to sit. Somehow we ended up at Chiaki Ishikawa's table. She sat down with her entourage of Victor Entertainment people, and one of them asked the interpretor what series we were cosplaying. She asked us and we told them DN Angel, and I said to the man who had asked that we were the twins Risa and Riku, and he said, "I know." He then asked "Do you know Shunichi Miyamoto?" And I'm sure this wasn't my reaction at the time, but when I remember the question, my reaction is, "!!!!"
We told him we were fans, and that we have Miyamoto-kun's Anges album and that we listened to Boys' Angel. He was impressed that we could understand Japanese well enough for that, and I should have said we even sent an e-mail that was read on the air. But the point is Victor comes to AX at least every other year (this we know for a fact), and Shunichi Miyamoto works for them. And now they know he has at least two fans in America. So... will they bring him one year? They'd probably have to have him sing a few more anime themes first. I would have no problem with that.
At Ishikawa-san's table it was kind of nice, because it was like we were all having a conversation. One guy kept talking about how American animation doesn't do any of this stuff they do in Japan, and I kept interrupting him because I disagreed, but it was very fun. But he was right that with American animation they'll usually have one theme song that they use forever and ever and ever, while in Japan they have different songs, and everybody cares who sings it and stuff. They should do that more in America. I guess first they'd have to make more Americans care about cartoons again.
After the first rotation, the tables... seemed to fill up quickly, but they actually didn't because the guy just went to each table individually telling them to rotate, so really we just got up before any of the other tables did. At any rate, the guest tables were full, so we sat down with Tenma and Yorihisa and tried to work out a time again. We didn't get very far, though, because I realized I needed some more of the amaaaazing crackers they had, and on my way, I ran into Translator Guy. He had his ukelele, as always, and (on Athena's suggestion) I said to him that we were wondering if he knew any songs we knew, because then he could play and we could have a sing-along. He immediately started playing Star Wars by Moosebutter.
For those of you who don't know the story, we weren't on speaking terms with Translator Guy until AX03, when the City of Hope people were around getting donations. In order to relate to the anime fans without blending too much, they were all dressed as Star Wars people. Back then, the Posse was still going pretty strong, and we had all learned the Star Wars song, which we decided all the Star Wars cosplayers just had to hear. So we're singing it to them, and Translator Guy walks up and starts taking pictures. I don't remember how the conversation went, but he was very excited that other people knew about Moosebutter, and it basically all went from there.
After we sang the first part of that, he told us about how he had been in Salt Lake City recently, and found out that Moosebutter was performing, but was very sad because his flight left twelve hours before their performance. So we said we should get them to do some anime songs and bring them to AX. He was really cool with that idea, but when we ran into chibidrunksanzo, whose brother is/was in Moosebutter, on Monday, she said the group is kind of dispersed now. Alas.
Next we went to Tetsuro Araki's table. Someone asked why he became a director, and he said that doing character design and storyboards and the like is great, but you don't have any say in anything unless you're the director. So I asked if there were any times he saw something and thought, "If I was the director, this would have been so much better!" He said that yes there are, but there are also times when he messes up and thinks, "If this other guy were the director (specifically his Shishou, the director of CardCaptor Sakura and Nana), it would have been so much better."
Eisaku Inoue's table was also pretty fun. He told about what a pervert the creator of One Piece is, but I seem to remember the interpretor saying something about being off the record, so if anyone's interested I think I'll have to friends-lock that stuff.
At the Oreska Band table, one of the members of the band asked if it's true that Americans don't get stiff shoulders. Apparently someone had told her that Americans don't get stiff shoulders because their faces aren't as big as Japanese people's. As we were talking about it, the man in question walked up, and she pointed him out. I called him a liar, so he asked if my shoulders get stiff, and mine don't really, so then he called me a liar, but I know a ton of American people whose shoulders do get stiff. And mine happened to get stiff that weekend, ironically enough.
Everybody was leaving early, which is why we didn't go to the other Death Note guy's table, and by the end, Eisaku Inoue was the only one left, so we went and stood around his table. Apparently he had just been asked by an attendee if it's difficult to draw Shanks. He couldn't remember for sure, so he took the interpreter's notepad and started to draw him. When he was done, he took the drawing off the notepad and handed it to the guy who asked the question. Really makes me wish I'd thought of that. Only I'm not a huge One Piece fan, so it's probably for the best. We'll have to keep it in mind for when they get Kumiko Takahashi. But as he was drawing, we discussed how much one could sell that drawing for, and once he was finished, the interpretor let him know what we were talking about. I feel a little bad, because I told the guy who got the drawing that he could sell it for a lot of money, and he's like, "I would never sell this!" all appalled. And I didn't mean it like that! It was all hypothetical! At any rate, Inoue-san asked if anyone would really buy it, at which point Yorihisa, who happened to be there as well, shyly raised her hand. So he said that kind of thing makes him think about quitting his job and making a living selling sketches on eBay. He could only get away with it because he's the official character designer.
The reception ended and we found ourselves wandering again, this time in the direction of the matsuri. They were having the how-many-marbles-can-you-pick-up-with-ch
The MC asked for volunteers to help pull tickets and stuff, and I think we were in it mostly for the attention, so we volunteered, which I think worked out very nicely, since we were in our matching sailor school girl uniforms. Also! We got to touch all the prizes! Take that, not-letting-us-touch guy! They had a set of Elemental Gelade manga, which we were very excited about because we translated it. I think everybody was a little extra tired, but we managed to finish the raffle safely. Most of the prizes (including the fancy kimono, obi, Japanese parasol, and fancy lacquer clock) went to one of three women who had bought like twelve million tickets each. Or you know, sixty. And afterward, to thank us for our help and enthusiasm, the MC (who was also in charge of the matsuri in general) took us to the storage room and gave us some of the less awe-inspiring prizes (she could only give us things that weren't inventoried). We felt a little awkward accepting gifts, but we're also too opportunistic to say no, so we gratefully accepted.
And then, tired, we made our way back to our hotel room and played some more Band Brothers before going to bed.
Wow, that was kind of tiring. But fun. I guess it kind of makes sense that it would be a little tiring to write about a long day after which you were tired. Today I'm thankful for having versions of FF11 we can actually play, Daigassou Band Brothers!!!!, fangirl delusions, getting to be the Twin Vannas, and finally finding mystery magical booths.