Anime Talk: Anime Overdose 2005
a bi-weekly column by Don Houston, John Sinnott and Chris Tribbey
Welcome to the first installment of a new column here on
With anime becoming so popular, a couple of reviewers here thought it
high time for this genre to have a column all to itself. So after
a little cajoling, a little pleading, and finally a lot of blackmail,
managed to create a regular feature devoted to anime here at
DVDTalk. We envision this as being a place where you can get all
the information you need concerning anime DVDs in a brief and concise
In this inaugural issue you'll find the latest anime bargains, reviews of the latest DVDs, a list of upcoming releases, and a look at the 2005 Anime Overdose
Convention by Chris Tribbey. If there is something you'd like
up to cover in the column, have comments or questions, or just want to
tell us what you think of this new endeavor, please e-mail us. We'd love to hear
Anime fans were excited when Disney recently released three more Studio Ghibli movies on DVD. As with the first wave, Disney did a fine job on these classic movies. Find out more in our review of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Porco Rosso, and The Cat Returns. The journey of two girls, one guy, and no birth certificates continues in Please Twins Vol 2, and Rosette gets closer to finding her lost brother in Chrono Crusade Vol. 4. The rather mediocre series Gravion returns with the first volume from the second season; Gravion Zwei: Eye of the Storm, and the fifth volume of fan favorite Ghost in the Shell, Stand Alone Complex is given the once over. We also have reviews of two anime features, the new Spriggian 2-disc SE and Saiyuki: Requiem: The Movie. We round off this week's list of reviews on a low point with Go Naggi's Kekko Kamen, a fighting anime from 1991 that just doesn't hold up very well.
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Avalible at Overstock.com:
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For more anime deals check out the Official - ANIME Bargains! - Thread. Updated daily.
What started as a small gathering of anime fans in Campbell, Calif. In 1997 has quickly turned into a mecca for San Francisco Bay Area anime faithful. DVDTalk reviewer Chris Tribbey, on assignment for another publication, gives us a brief look at the first day of Anime Overdose.
1:15 p.m. The opening ceremonies for Anime Overdose 2005 are already underway, and Iím still haggling with the desk clerk at the Golden Gateway Holiday Inn in downtown. The fax confirming payment for my room (Queen bed, smoking, no mini bar) is nowhere to be found, the clerk tells me. Between helping other customers, she checks the fax machine, which my editor tells me has been rung three times now.
Iím thinking two things after I get off the phone with the person footing the bill: I should have paid for the damn room myself, and I should have worn jeans, a Samurai Deeper Kyo T-shirt, and tennis shoes, instead of a button-down, slacks and Alfanis. Iím easily the most overdressed person in the lobby, and one of only a handful that isnít dressed in Cosplay.
Cosplay, for you non-anime fans out there, is where fans dress up like their favorite characters. These fans look incredibly bright and colorful, and wear perpetual smiles. Everyone seems, well, happy. Theyíre like the opposite of Rocky Horror Picture Show fanatics (and first-timers to Cosplay donít have to paint a red ďVĒ on their foreheads).
Iím here for the DVD Release Report, an industry and retailer publication that focuses on new DVD news and announcements. I have meetings scheduled with people from FUNimation and ADV, though this is mostly a meet and greet; Iím not expecting much in the way of announcements, since this is a small convention, compared to the Anime Expo in Anaheim or Otakon in Baltimore. Only a few studios are represented at Anime Overdose; itís a fan convention for the most part. The editor of the Release Report could care less about the fans; I say Cosplay, he thinks of a childrenís play area at a big retail store. He doesnít know anything about anime, and Iím pretty sure he finds the entire genre to be both silly and frightening.
Just a glance around the lobby shows several Inuyashas, more than one character from Fullmetal Alchemist, and at least one Rurouni Kenshin. Some people have gone the simple route, and are wearing just a Cosplay cap, while others have gone full out, sporting face make-up, elaborate costumes, fangs, hooks, and hair dos that would make many stylists cringe in horror. These kids could care less what anyone else thinks: this is their idea of a vacation, a non-stop party celebrating their favorite form of entertainment. For me, anime is just another fun set of shows, something to be enjoyed between other movies. For these guys, this is a way of life.
Finally the clerk comes out of the back room with a fax, confirming that, yes, indeed, Iím not a crazy person off the streets wasting her time. She gives me my room key, and I head to the elevators. Winding my way through all the anime fans, itís easy to spot the ďregularĒ hotel guests. They have looks in their eyes that could be amusement or simple caution. One of them asks me whatís going on, apparently because I look like a sane, normal person in his eyes. ďItís an anime convention.Ē ďAnime?Ē he says. ďYeah, Japanese cartoons.Ē ďOh. I thought I had wandered into the Castro,Ē he jokes, referring to the homosexual district of San Francisco. Two girls, one dressed like Sailor Moon, the other dressed like some sort of demon, hear him, and give him a nasty look. I wait for the next elevator.
3 p.m. Iíve checked in, dropped off my bags in the room, and armed myself with camera, notebook and laptop. Iíve covered pro sports, political conventions, large-scale protests, the VSDA video trade show in Vegas, and a myriad of other gatherings over the years, but this will be my first anime convention. Iím not sure what to expect.
Friday is a light day on the schedule: only a handful of events are lined up, with all the industry panels, anime experts and the like appearing on Saturday and Sunday. Right now, there are two events going on: Japanese Video Games with producers Saki Nimiya and Hirofumi Murasaki, and Introduction to Psycho le Cemu, the big-name Japanese band that will be performing twice this weekend. I drop by both.
At the intro to the band event, the room is pretty packed, with maybe 50 fans seated, while two Overdose people Ė dressed like members of the band Ė work to get the audio and video working for a presentation. While they call a tech guy in to rework the wiring, they entertain the fans with an impromptu puppet show. When they finally get the presentation up and running, fans begin clapping and moving along with the music video, which shows Psycho le Cemu in a futuristic world battling CGI monsters. The people in the room obviously love this band. Iíve never heard of them, but theyíre playing tonight and Saturday. Iíll check them out.
I head over to the other room. There are about two dozen people, all guys, listening to Nimiya talk about Playstation and Nintendo hand-held systems in Japan. These things are TINY, and put your basic Gameboy to shame. He passes a couple of the systems out to the crowd, who ooh and ahhh over the toys. ďItís exciting stuff,Ē Nimiya says. Iím not overly interested in this panel, so I head out to interview some of the Cosplay kids.
I chat and photograph about a dozen Cosplay fans, who are simply swarming the convention at this point. They donít mind be photographed at all, though not all of them want to be fully identified. ďI donít have anything to hide, but some people at work may not like what Iím into,Ē one girl tells me. So you dress up like an anime character Ö whatís so wrong with that?
I have a few minutes before Iím supposed to meet with FUNimation, so I wander around the exhibit hall. DVDs from several regions, toys and posters galore, collectibles, wall scrolls, even swords are on sale. I see a ton of DVDs Iíd love to own, and if that Battle Royale DVD isnít a bootleg, itís coming home with me. Iím glad I brought some cash, cause I can fill several holes in my collection. That and one guy is willing to trade DVDs, and Iíve brought a dozen Iíd like to get rid of. Who says I canít have fun while working?
4 p.m. Jon Baumgardner, marketing and media specialist with FUNimation, takes a break from running the companyís booth, and we head to the Cosplay contest sign-up room to chat. FUNimation is the only American studio here in force, which is surprising. Where there are anime fans, thereís money. More studios should be working the room.
Baumgardner and I chat for about 45 minutes, talking about future releases from the company, the industry in general, and some current titles out in the market. ďWe want to play a part in growing the industry itself,Ē he tells me, while he grabs a snack of soda and a Snickers. ďAnd thatís the way the industry should be.Ē He points to companies like his and ADV, which have been packaging special edition DVD releases with manga from companies like VIZ and Tokyopop.
He expresses a lot of excitement about the DVD releases of Fullmetal Alchemist, which is getting just as much press in Japan as the U.S. right now. The series is being aired (and edited for content) on Cartoon Network right now, and the episodes are outpacing those that are available on DVD. ďItís one of those titles that lends itself to a much more wide audience,Ē he says. Part sci-fi, part horror, part comedy, part drama, Fullmetal truly is a good series. FUNimation should start sending DVDs to DVDTalk, so our anime reviewers can write about them.
Baumgardner is in charge of marketing a new girls with guns series, Burst Angel. ďItís a little mature, though it doesnít have nudity or sex scenes,Ē he says. Iíve gotten the advanced press kit for this series, and it looks bad-ass. I canít wait to give it a full viewing. Heís excited about it because itís one of those titles Ė like Samurai Champloo and Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex - which have separate audio tracks for voice actors, music and ambient noises, giving companies the opportunity to really separate the audio channels. ďIn house we canít do it, but when we get the separate tracks from Japan, our sound engineers can improve on the sound ten-fold,Ē Baumgardner said.
The conversation moves to box sets, which are getting more elaborate each month, with new goodies included. ďOther companies and ourselves have put out a number of different box sets,Ē Baumgardner said. ďWeíve taken the time, energy and marketing to treat these titles right.Ē Thereís the Fullmetal collectorís tin, Burst Angel will include a matt-basing box set, glossy, with a cell phone strap, two charms, and the first DVD volume, and Gunslinger Girl will include a high-quality cloth poster. Most of the companies are getting more inventive with their box sets and SEís, and Baumgardner expresses excitement about the way the domestic anime industry is treating its releases. ďItís showing weíre all moving in the right direction,Ē he said. We chat about his companyís anime club group, convention habits, and plans for the summer, before we wrap it up.
A viewing of Tree of Palme is going on when I finish, but Iíve already seen it. In fact, I have the DVD with me. I decide to start writing.
8:30 p.m. Two Negra Modelos and three-quarters of a pepperoni pizza later, Iíve written enough to give DVDTalkís inaugural anime column a little spice. Iíve got a karaoke contest downstairs to check out, and Iím still lively enough to pay a visit to the dance party going on until 2 a.m. I freshen up, walk outside my room, and see this Ö
I make him wait long enough so I can grab my camera and take his picture. He nods to me after I shoot, and heads back down the hall. I head downstairs.
Well that's it for our first column. Next time around we should have reviews of several new titles including Cyberteam in Akihabara Vol 3, Stellvia - Foundation III, and the feature film, Tree of Palme. We'll also start to look at some older releases that may have slipped by some people, but are definitely worth checking out.
What do you think about the column? Like what you see? Don't like it? Have a comment or suggestion? Drop us an e-mail and let us know!
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