It’s mania! Animania!

October 2, 2006 at 8:53 am | Posted in animania, anime, Anime & Manga, Animes, Pop-cult, Sydney | 2 Comments

For my first ever anime convention/festival (and return to Sydney-things) I went to Animania. Overall it was very cool and I’ll go through my thoughts on this two day event below. I’ll also state that while I’ve watched anime for a while I’ve never tried to get a deeper understanding or appreciation, which is why I decided to come this year.

Panels

The two main panels I went to were:

  • Investigating Anime Ghost Worlds: In this panel Dr Hill from UTS gave a presentation on the spiritual world’s representation in anime. Personally, I found him to be a poor orator and had I not later checked out his profile I would never have believed that he was a fan of animation. Perhaps, naively, I thought there might have been more passion and less nerves. As to the content of the presentation, it was ok. He used Princess Mononoke to represent natural spirituality, Ghost in the Shell for industrialism/ mechanical views of spirit and machines, lastly Bleach was used for a more general spirit/heaven exemplar. I didn’t think there was too much depth too what he said. Yes, he raised Shintoism but it lacked a successful interplay and flow between religious/spiritual ideas and anime.  A greater range of anime and religious stories would have benefited the talk. Moreso, there was no comment on the issue of other philosophies and their impact on anime and Japanese culture (what with Full Metal Alchemist, and others use of these images this is startling). An audience member did ask but was told that this wasn’t his focus rather it was on local spirituality. Which seems odd and poor sentiment. Eh, the topic is fascinating but it could have been done so much better.
  • A cosy conversation with Queenie Chan: Technically, this forum was called “An Interview with Queenie Chan” but there were only a few of us so we pulled up chairs into a small circle with the facilitator, Queenie and the last forum’s speaker.  Queenie is the author of the manga “Dreaming”and was an enthusiastic speaker, and it was more of a chat about manga and anime in general. Some of the main points were the blandness of most manga, with an unfortunate focus on flash and not substantive storytelling. Drawing, developing your skills as an artist and a need to develop your own identity rather than copy others’ style. All in all, it was a good chat which was quite engaging.

Screenings

  • Otogi Zoshi: I didn’t see too much of this anime, partly because it was in the main hall pre-cosplay so there were many distractions and also as the second episode cut out half way through. On the plus side they started showing Elemental Gelade.  This anime looks like it has potential, with political intrigue and action (blood!) – even though I’m not really sure what the hell is going on. I’ll try and track down some more episodes before making a final call.
  • Elemental Gelade: Yes it was quite flashy and bright – contrasted starkly with Otogi Zoshi’s muted appearance – but there was action right from the start as the sky pirates stole from some airship before getting some weird guests and …a njnja attack? I’m willing to watch this series to see what happens, at least until I understand its unique vocabulary!
  • Gilgamesh: I caught bits and pieces of this anime while waiting for the line at the food stall to die down. The big heading blocking the subtitles (and the giant cement pole in the middle of the room) kind of hampered my comprehension. Still, it seems like something happened that turned off electronic devices leading to a return to the stone age. There are the usual forces of good and evil and a brother and sister caught in the middle. I’d like to watch the first few episodes again to get a better grasp on it, but then maybe I’m getting over the ‘special/secret power’ child (related to the villain?) genre. Then again it might just be the oppressive dark colouring because…well read the next comment. 
  • Kyo Kara Maoh!: The Demon King’s child (who has powers – sigh-) is born on Earth then returned to his ‘real’ word to take up his duties where he must prove himself and manage the competing and priorities of those that ‘serve’ him. I think what makes this series tolerable is the humour. There are large doses of it – something I missed with Gilgamesh- that help to distract from some clear (and self referenced) absurdities. Then again this was only 3 episodes in, well before the central action that presumably will involve a war with the humans. Presumably there’ll also be an explanation why the demons all like humans too.

Given that it’s an anime festival you would have thought I’d see more anime, right? Well that’s true but I’m a bit of a dabbler and prefer to see a wide range of things at the festival. Also there are some anime like Narutothat everyone’s seen. I’ll be checking out all of the above series’ if I can find them for at least the first 7 episodes and see what happens.  

Cosplay

I’ve had limited exposure to cosplay but the final awardees for day 1 of the festival are below. I’ve linked to the photos were I found them online (ie they’re not my photos, big thanks to people for taking them).  Currently photos can be found on these:

If any of the photo takers want the links removed let me know. Now, onto the winners:

  • Most original‘Anime Translator’ kind of corny, kind of funny. We have a girl in (generic?) costume with a range of anime “emoticons” that the translator then talked about in response to questions from the compere. It would have been a lot funnier had there been a specific skit. Still congratulations.
  • Runner up male – ‘Jin Roh’ this was one cool costume. Full armour, all black and helmet, deep resonating voice. A tough call between this and the winner.
  • Winner, male – ‘Alphonse, Full Metal Alchemist’. Even though he’d lost a leg (or is that added realism to the character?) the costume was amazing for all being made out of steel! Yes clanking, heavy steel! Seriously a very difficult decision with Jin Roh.
  • Runner up female – ‘Cat bus’ from ‘My neighbour Totoro’ very fun.
  • Winner, female –Princess Ai’ from the Princess Ai manga. Her costume was fantastic and very intricate. I was suprised to later learn that the manga is based on Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain. Weird.
  • Runner up skit – ‘Cardcaptor‘ did a very cool dance, they were the second group up so it was tough for anyone to top them.
  • Winner, skit‘Kingdom Hearts’ ‘Donald’ and ‘Riku’ singing and dancing a humorous “I’m not gay” song. Although, oddly Donald’s costume lacked a bill.
  • Runner up group –Tekken‘ fight scene
  • Winner, group – ‘Ooran Host Club’ I’ve never seen the series so can’t comment too much on it but the group seemed very enthusiastic and into it.

Kudos to everyone, there are plenty of other awesome cosplayers. My favourites were this guy and this guy.  There were also several Lacus Klines from ‘Gundam Seed’, several ‘Narutos’ and ‘Bleach’ shinigamis.

Some people who came up could have shown better sportsmanship but I’ll put that down to lack of sleep preparing their costumes.  

Sword Demonstration and Animania Fusion

There was a display of Iaido during cosplay intermission was interesting but I think kendo is more fun. while I appreciate the art form techniques of unsheathing, striking and re-sheathing the sword but wouldn’t choose it to be my sport.

Animania Fusion was shown while the cosplay results were being tabulated. Basically, they were a variety of videos prepared by fans on any number of topics. I only watched a few but some were quite funny.  

AMVs and Karaoke

I watched a few music videos that were very good and professional looking. Some others lacked an overall sense of quality and music/image cohesion.

Karaoke finals were of high quality – although the actual pronunciation of the Japanese is something I can’t comment on – meanwhile the karaoke room was pretty fun to sit around and watch people give it ago.

Stallholders, Game Room and Food

The stalls had a variety of goods with a particularly large range from Madman. Manga, DVDs, posters and anything else you’d expect at this sort of event were here.

Game room was a lot of fun and a gaood place to chill (the DS people even had their own corner!) and it was a chance to play a bunch of games or watch others. As usual the most fun to watch were the dance games, as people showed their stuff!

The food stalls had a mixture of snacks (Pocky anyone?), Anglo (sausage sizzle), Turkish and Japanese (takoyaki and obanyaki were my choices). Other than burning my mouth on a piece of takoyaki it was all good and reasonably priced.

Festival Organisation

The Festival had many volunteers on hand to help out with things and they all seemed friendly and dedicated even if it meant standing by the food stall doors for a few hours. 

The panel facilitator was cool, originally I thought she was too talky but quickly realised that it was through both a love of the topic and because the audience (often quite small) lacked many questions.  Also, the cosplay host was good as well, chatting with everyone and doing a reasonable job given that there was range of personalities on stage.

General Comments

There were some other things I didn’t get a chance to see like the drawing competition but all in all Animania was fun and something I’d like to check out again next year.

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2 Comments »

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  1. Hey, I just spotted this while browing randomly. The ??? You mentioned is called Riku who was cosplayed my my bestie Cattypatra on the Animania Forums. Hope I was of some help.

  2. Thanks very much! I’ve updated the post and coincidentally, have finally gotten around to finishing off KH2.

    Hope you and Cattypatra had a good time at animania!


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