Anime NYC, Day One

It’s Anime NYC weekend! I’m here to cover everything for you – at least, everything I can get to. We’re starting early, though, as I’m typing this before the con begins. That’s because Seven Seas, which is not allowed to leave California due to some agreement with a lich, I believe, has announced a giant pile of titles every day this week, including some absolute stunners.

We start with Dragon, Ie wo Kau (Dragon Goes House Hunting), which sounds absolutely hilarious based on title alone. It’s a Mag Garden title that runs in Comic Blade, and a fairly recent series. As for the premise, well, I’d hate to spoil…

Do you like sports manga? Have you been thinking “I like sports manga, but there’s not enough fanservice? Where are my girls in swimsuits”? In that case, we have Harukana Receive, a beach volleyball manga that takes place in Okinawa. It runs in Houbunsha’s Manga Time Kirara Forward, and has 4 volumes to date.

I greatly enjoyed My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness when it came out earlier this year, and so am delighted to hear Seven Seas has licensed the sequel, My Solo Exchange Diary, which only comes out in Japan next month. Judging by the title, it promises to be as emotionally compelling as the previous book (exchange diaries by definition requiring another person).

I have often begged for licenses from Shogakukan’s Big Comic Superior, one of the more overlooked seinen magazines. And, well, OK, I asked for it. Now we have Wonderland, which manages to turn Alice in Wonderland into a horror thriller sort of deal, as humanity shrinks all of a sudden and has to fight to survive. The author may be best known over here for Fighting Beauty Wulong.

How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom has been one of J-Novel Club’s breakaway hits, so it’s no surprise that Seven Seas will be releasing it in print. Get ready to hear about Machivelli’s The Prince a lot and ask yourself “Isn’t that Saber?”.

This should not be a surprise anymore given the number of classic titles Seven Seas has announced, but it still surprised me. Space Battleship Yamoto will be coming out as one omnibus manga! From 1974, it ran in Akita Shoten’s now defunct Bouken Ou magazine, though I believe Media Factory may have the rights now. The anime version may be better known to Western fans as old as I am as Star Blazers.

Udon still has the rights to Rose of Versailles, though it’s been significantly delayed. But Seven Seas teased us with two sort-of-related titles. The first is Versailles of the Dead, combining 18th century France with zombies. It runs in Shogakukan’s Hibana, and is from the creator of After School Charisma.

And we may not have Rose of Versailles yet, but we are getting a Ryoko Ikeda title, as we have Claudine! This single volume shoujo manga is considered a pioneer in the field of LGBT manga, meaning of course that it’s going to end unhappily for all concerned, like most pioneers of LGBT manga. Claudine ran in Shueisha’s Margaret, and will be complete in one volume.

Who wanted a combination of beloved fairy tales and survival game manga? Certainly not me, but there’s definitely a market for it, and they should be delighted with Fairy Tale Battle Royale, a Kadokawa title that runs in Gene Pixiv.

If you liked The Heiress and the Chauffeur, Seven Seas has a new shoujo series by the same author (and that also ran in LaLa from Hakusensha). The Bride and the Exorcist Knight is about a young woman who attracts demons, and the boy who rescues her… and then says they should get married. The boy’s age worries me (he’s apparently 12), but we’ll see how this is handled.

The biggest surprise so far (I may have to edit this when Friday’s titles come out) is the license of the Shin Tenchi Muyo novels. These novels expand on the past of the original OAV series, with one devoted to Aeka’s family, one to Tenchi’s grandfather, and one to Washuu. (Romanization may vary depending on when you got obsessed with Tenchi Muyo). These came out in the 1990s, and were on no one’s radar, so I was stunned. But I will absolutely pick them up.

Friday brings us the final Seven Seas titles. First we have Elf-san wa Yaserarenai (Plus-Sized Elf), a comedy manga from Comic Gum. Dieting elves seem to be the comedy du jour.

Ojojojo proves that the Dragon Maid author can still get things licensed, but at least it doesn’t seem to feature monster girls. Outcast girl meets outcast boy in this 4-volume series from Takeshobo’s Manga Life.

Lastly, there is Hanayome wa Motodanshi (The Bride was a Boy), an Asuka Shinsha title about the titular bride, who was assigned male at birth but has decided to transition, and her husband who finds out about this but falls for her anyway. It’s apparently autobiographical, and should appeal to fans of My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness-style manga.

Now onto Anime NYC proper. After a bit of line wackiness (better signage was desperately needed), I got into the Exhibit Hall, grabbed a copy of Nekomonogatari Back (likely my sole purchase this weekend), and headed to the panel on Anime Fandom 15 years ago, run by Doug Wilder of Animecons.com.

It really is startling to see how far we’ve come in that time. 15 years ago, VHS was dying and DVDs were the new thing, but they were frequently high-priced and sometimes came with a box to hold the remaining volumes… which may not always have come out if sales were really poor. Streaming was being talked about, but that’s all. It was a physical media world.

There were magazines! Animerica, Protoculture Addicts, Newtype USA. Wizard magazine devoted part of its content to anime, which makes me sad as it means I have to remember Wizard magazine. You still had Toonami and Adult Swim, but ADV Films (remember them?) was starting up The Anime Network. We had the Lupin dub! Which changed so much dialogue it could have been a different series.

There were the usual gateways. Sailor Moon, etc. Gundam Wing was HUGE at the time. I noted from the audience that it was the Gundam series that attracted a lot of female viewers. Doug also discussed other robot series like G Gundam and Battler Aura Dunbine, which tried to sell itself as being similar to Gundam Wing, which… it wasn’t.

After this nostalgic trip, I toured the show floor a bit. Spoke to Mangagamer about the delays on the Higurashi re-release (their programmer is very busy with other titles, so Tsumihoroboshi may take a few more months.) Got a hot dog, because the days when I try to power through an entire day on water are long gone. Then camped for Viz, which meant seeing Funimation Favorites, which was fun. They’re excited about the Nichijou re-release.

Viz had a lot of people at its panel, though the only panelist was Charlene Ingram, their marketing director. Most of the announcements were things that had been mentioned at prior events, such as Infini-T Force and the Homestuck print omnibuses. A lot of anime clips, which the audience appreciated. The Terra Formars one was quite violent.

A big announcement was that Viz has partnered with Pluto TV, an app that allows you to watch various titles whenever you want, including Viz titles. They were also very excited about Osomatsu-san, the very popular comedy manga that sort of came out of nowhere this past year.

On the manga front, we talked about to My Hero Academia speedup starting in 2018, as well as the Vigilantes spinoff being licensed. The one new series that they announced was That Blue Sky Feeling (Sorairo Flutter), an LGBT series that runs in Square Enix’s Gangan Joker. It’s about a boy drawn to the school outcast, who may be gay but that’s not stopping our hero getting close to him. It looks quite interesting.

After the Viz panel I went to dinner with two friends at a pub on 46th street nowhere near the con, which I always recommend when you do NYC cons – the convention center is near absolutely nothing. Fish and chips were eaten, rum and coke was drank, and a good time was had by all.

Then back to the con for the One Piece 20th anniversary panel, which had a considerable line, but everyone managed to get in. (By the way, the con had about 20,000 people, which is not bad given it’s a first-year con. The panel was run by the One Piece Podcast, and the hosts were Zach and Kelly. They oddly tried to keep it a spoiler-free con, which was increasingly difficult as the panel went on.

A lot of the events going on in Japan for the anniversary were discussed. One Piece is big business there, with shops, restaurants (one restaurant is run by a guy dressed as Sanji, who flirts with the women but is hirrible to any male customers. That sounds… a bit too accurate for my taste) and the like.

There’s an exhibit at Tokyo Tower. There’s a kabuki show, though the lead actor recently got injured. One Piece is used in tons of ads – Coke, Nippon Ham, and a ludicrous ad in appalling Engrish for a pen, ending with “THIS IS A PEN!” declaimed. (That phrase is the standard opener for Japanese kids learning English.)

The live-action One Piece is in production for North America, and few fans seem excited, even with Oda supervising it. Too many people remember Dragon Ball… and Ghost in the Shell… and Death Note. Still, hope springs eternal. Oh yes, and they also showed the 4Kids opening – a surprising number of people grooved along. I guess it didn’t kill the fandom after all!

They had a history of the One Piece anime and manga over the years after this, which got increasingly vague as we tried not to spoil. Unfortunately, I had to cut out before the panel ended, so that I could come back here and write all of this up for you.

Tomorrow brings us Kodansha, Yen, and other assorted fun things. Who’s gonna be there with me?

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