Sunday, September 18, 2011

my yearly excuse

Every year for the past, oh, 17 years, I have the same excuse as to why I can’t get much of anything done in the late August-September time frame. It’s all because I helped start an anime convention in Atlanta back in 1995, and AWA has been such a blast every year that I continue to be involved.

This year is no different, I’m handling several events and panels over the course of the weekend, and preparation for same has taken up the free time I’d normally use to write Let’s Anime columns.

What’s happening this year at AWA 2011? Thursday night at 7 we do this thing called the SUPER HAPPY FUN SELL, where anime fans dig through their closets and bring out their pre-loved manga, DVDs, old VHS and laserdiscs, toys, games, plushies, model kits, prints, cassette tapes, fans, kimono, record albums, and other less identifiable items to sell to you at bargain prices. I find neat stuff at this sale every year and I predict this one will not be any different. Bring money!

Then later on Thursday it’s Dave’s Old School Classroom. I wasn’t going to do it this year, mainly because at previous shows it’s always been this late night Saturday thing and I was tired of spending my Saturday night catching-up-with-friends time in a video room showing “Legend Of Marine Snow”. So this year it’s moved to Thursday at 10pm in the Kennesaw room and I’m going to take the audience through the anime work of Shotaro Ishinomori, including little-seen gems like Sabu & Ichi’s Detective Stories and 30,000 Miles Under The Sea. You’ll need your AWA badge for these events so show up early Thursday to get squared away!

Friday night is of course Japanese Anime Hell; I’ve been doing it at AWA since 1997, a two-hour compilation of entertaining and inexplicable found video that works within the themes of Japan or animation or both. Or neither. To be honest I never thought it would become as popular as it has, but I could say that about AWA in general, which will have more than 12,000 attendees this year.

There’s a whole bunch of stuff going on at the show on Saturday but all I’m responsible for (other than a certain gathering for fans of a certain show) is a panel at 7pm titled “Stone Age Mecha”, anime and manga robots of the pre-Mazinger Z era. Expect some Mitsuteru Yokoyama action in this one.

On Sunday at 1pm I’m on a panel with representatives from other Atlanta anime conventions, and we compare and contrast our various shows, talk about dealing with hotels and vendors, and generally swap trade secrets. I don’t live in Atlanta any more, so my eligibility as an AWA representative is dubious at best, but this gives me a chance to catch up on all the gossip. And that’s important.

At 3:30 there’s a talk entitled “My Life On The Super Robot D-List”, where experts like Richard Hoelsher and Drew Sutton and me discuss various robot anime shows that never quite caught on with the public. And there were a surprising number of these near-misses, some entertaining, some terrible. Then I have to run over next door at 4pm and do a panel on “Spooky Classic Anime”, all about Shigeru Mizuki’s Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro and Akuma-Kun, other shows like Yokai Ningen Bem, Obake Q-Taro and Kaibutsu-Kun, and even some Dororon Enma-Kun thrown in for good measure. And then before you know it the con is over for another year!

Of course AWA’s packed with attractions besides my humble involvement; guests include seiyu Naoko Matsui (Dream Hunter Rem, Katsumi Liqueur in Silent Mobius), artist Yoshitoshi “Serial Experiments Lain” Abe, voice actors Todd Haberkorn, Vic Mignogna, Amy “Nova” Howard-Wilson and Brina Palencia, industry figures like Carl Horn, Neil “Totally Lame Anime” Nadelman and David Williams, animation director Tim Eldred, artist Bob DeJesus, musical acts MOON STREAM and The Suzan, among others. There’s a formal ball, the famous AMV awards, a giant artists alley, classy costume contest, karaoke, maid cafes, video games, a manga library, a huge dealers hall, RPG games, three 24 hour anime video rooms showing damn near everything, a whole programming track dealing with cosplay, Midnight anime parody Madness, several loud dances, and this year a skit event, so you can shut up about your damn skits.

AWA 2011 happens September 29-October 2 at the Cobb Galleria Convention Center/Renaissance Waverly Hotel in what’s technically Atlanta GA! See you there!