Thursday, March 29, 2012
Tokyo International Anime Fair 2012
Well, it's been one week to the day since I popped in to this year's Tokyo International Anime Fair (東京国際アニメフェア), held as always at Tokyo Big Sight.
When I say always, however, I lie. The event was called off last year (for the first time in a decade), since it was scheduled a couple of weeks after the big Tōhoku earthquake.
It's nice to see it back.
We call this "TAF" for short; for reasons as-yet-unknown, the organizers drop the “I” bit, maybe because it just looks better in terms of logo concepts.
Think displays by anime producers like Production I.G, Gonzo, Madhouse, Toei, Studio Ghibli, Aniplex, Sunrise, Bones and Bandai flaunting their upcoming wares, and not just via the scantily clad pseudo-cosplay girls outside their booths.
Here's my overview of the last serving, back in 2010. You might even find I nicked some of the editorial there for this piece, since time is previous right now - I'm in the middle of finishing off my next novel, One Hundred Years of Vicissitude, and in fact was editing the bugger on the sidelines of TAF.
“TAF is the Mecca for anime fans around the world,” Makoto Tsumita - the former marketing manager for the international division of essential anime production house Gonzo - mentioned to me about five years ago.
At that time, Japan produced almost two thirds of the animation watched around the globe “and 70 percent of this is produced in Tokyo,” a spokesperson for the TAF Executive Committee Secretariat told me in article that year for the now defunct Geek Monthly, making the argument that this city was the natural setting for the hugely successful anime trade affair.
“It’s the best place for foreign buyers to find everything under the same roof,” reported Stephane-Enric Beaulieu, a spokesperson for the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo.
According to the organizers, TAF2012 attracted 98,923 visitors during the four days of the Fair - less than that of the previous Fair in 2010, but the number of visitors on the Business Days were about the same, with an increase in foreign reps.
This year, the best displays were devoted to perennial favourites Lupin III, Smile PreCure!, and the zany merchandise for Hayao Miyazaki's old 1972 classic Panda! Go, Panda! (パンダ・コパンダ).
And I think that's half the problem: the things that excited me most this year are, well, three ageing franchises.
When I first started going to TAF events here in March, from 2002 on, there was a helluva lot of excitement about the brand new, innovative TV shows and feature films that would be unveiled for the first time.
Ten years on, with the changes in the anime/media industry and after the cancellation last year, things have changed.
While the pomp and ceremony, and definitely the professionalism, is still there - it all feels a little jaded and lacking oomph. Just a little. It takes more than cute poster girls, anime character suitcases, and flash cars to keep this wunderbar industry alive.
I know several of these companies, including I.G, Gonzo, Madhouse and Bones, will be working to rectify the problem - so here's to supporting them in these endeavours.
TAF2013 will be held from March 21 to March 24th next year.