A few quick reflections, since I’m home a little earlier on this, the second night of the Big Apple Anime Fest (BAAF for short). While there are things to be said about going to a con with friends (most of them good, of course), there are equally good things to be said about going to a con within easy commuting distance of one’s home, so that one can actually go and *sleep* (yes, God, sleep, real sleep, thankyouthankyouthankyou!) in one’s own bed in between.
My first impression of BAAF was that it was a LOT bigger than any other anime con I’d been to. (For size comparison’s sake– I’ve been to Katsu several times, Otakon… once? and Anime Central once, as well as several much smaller cons.) Well… as far as size of the hotel (37 stories, 4 of which were taken up by con activities), location (right in the middle of Times Square), number of screening rooms (6, plus a video game room, and an RPG room, and a manga reading room, and 5 rooms’ worth of panels), and the fact that they’ve got 2 theaters in the the Loews/Virgin Megastore aaaaalll to themselves… yeah, I’d have to say it’s a pretty big con. And the crowds today *certainly* outstripped anything I’ve seen at other cons.
Part of it, too, is just that this con is less… self-contained? than others I’ve been to. There were lots of day- and half-day visitors today… so many that I wasn’t even allowed *on* to the fifth floor on my first try, because it was too crowded. I suppose that was one of the major drawbacks of the con… so many people meant I couldn’t even attend some of the events or screenings I wanted to. From comments I overheard in both halls and screening rooms (yes, the amount of regular-volume talking AND celphone calls in the screening rooms has got to rate a pretty hefty black mark against this con so far), a lot of these people were relative newcomers to anime. Which is a good thing. I really love anime, and I want other people to love anime, too. I just… wish they were a little more discreet about it…. not calling their buddies in the middle of the movie to talk about it, or making loud comments to their neighbors…. anyway, I digress.
As I was saying, the venue was huge, the crowds were huge… but individual aspects of the con weren’t. Dealer’s room was on the small side for such a large draw (tho’ lots of big-name booths). The big guest-of-honor panels– which I’ve seen held in the largest room available (often the ballroom or somesuch) at other cons– were in decent-sized rooms, but… not all that large, really. The room was pretty full. Some of the screening rooms were *really* small, so much so that a relatively little audience put them at over-capacity. And yes, there were a lot of rooms for screenings, but the screenings themselves only go ’til 1 am, and the panels are over by 6 pm. It’s just sort of weird to me that an open-all-night town like NY should have such an early-to-bed con. Heh.
So far, it’s been tiring, but fun. I safely made it into the City– only the second time I’ve driven myself (and oddly enough, the last time was for an anime event, too… my otaku powers give me strength to do battle with NYC traffic. HEH). Times Square, which I’d never visited before, is a trip. Smaller than it looks on TV space-wise, but teeming with life and excitement… huge in personality. The signs are so bright at night that I mistakenly thought the sun was still up, when I stepped out of the hotel last night at a little after midnight. And the streets and sidewalks were even busier at the midnight hour than they’d been at noon. (I imagine this is what Vegas must be like all the time.) Even though I got there later than I wanted to on Friday, I still got to see a *lot* of different anime titles I’d been hoping to get a taste of, and a few old favorites. The screening room atmosphere wasn’t always the greatest, but the anime generally was.
Even though I was frustrated in my attempts to see much anime today, I *did* get a nice spate of shopping in. I got to meet and gush at and get a book signed by Rod Espinosa (Neotopia, Courageous Princess, Battle Girlz). I picked up a new (well, started in March) Antarctic title as well, Counter Ops, which I got signed by the artist (Jin Song Kim) and writer (J. Ang) as well. Actually, I’d swung back by the Antartic booth to get their autographs, since they’d just stepped out when I stopped the first time– Mr. Espinosa was sort of a bonus. ^_^ In hindsight, I hope I didn’t make them feel bad, since on first glance-through the art in Counter Ops looked exceptionally cool (I won’t comment on a story I haven’t read yet). I was likewise delighted to get into the Tsukasa Hojo panel… he’s just as cool in person as the creator of City Hunter *should* be, which is a pretty amazing accomplishment, when you think about it.
I wrapped my day on a truly superb note– a big-screen viewing of Millenium Actress, with introduction by the director, Satoshi Kon (who also did Perfect Blue, if that gives you any indication of the quality you should expect, here). It was… wow. ::grin:: He warned us that anyone who needed to should go to the bathroom instead of listening to him talk, because stepping out for a few minutes would mean missing about 100 years in the movie. Chiyoko’s life story, as she tells it to the documentary filmmaker who so deeply admires her, comes alive for her listeners (and for us, the audience). It twines in and out of the present, just as real life and fantasy (the roles played in her movies, and Chiyoko’s own imagination) twine together, until you reach the point where the differences– present, past, far future, fantasy, history, reality– don’t really matter anymore. It’s funny and tragic and hopeful and (for me, at least) deeply moving. I *really* want to see it again.
And on that note… bed. Sleep. Sleep good. One more day….